paradigm shift

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Coined by American historian, physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962).


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paradigm shift (plural paradigm shifts)

  1. (sciences) A radical change in thinking from an accepted point of view to a new one, necessitated when new scientific discoveries produce anomalies in the current paradigm. [from 1962]
    • 1996, Shahariz Abdul Aziz, Jeyakody Parthiban, Fuzzy Sets and Operations[1]:
      Fuzzy Set Theory was formalised by Professor Lofti Zadeh at the University of California in 1965. What Zadeh proposed is very much a paradigm shift that first gained acceptance in the Far East and its successful application has ensured its adoption around the world.
    • 2007 June 27, Douglas H. Erwin, “Darwin still rules, but some biologists dream of a paradigm shift”, in The New York Times[2], →ISSN:
      The foundations for a paradigm shift may be in place, but it may be some time before we see whether a truly novel perspective develops or these tensions are accommodated within an expanded modern synthesis.
    • 2012 August 12, John Naughton, “Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science”, in The Guardian[3]:
      The trouble is that over longer periods unresolved anomalies accumulate and eventually get to the point where some scientists begin to question the paradigm itself. [] In the end, the crisis is resolved by a revolutionary change in world-view in which the now-deficient paradigm is replaced by a newer one. This is the paradigm shift of modern parlance and after it has happened the scientific field returns to normal science, based on the new framework. And so it goes on.
  2. (by extension) Any radical change, especially in politics or technology.
    • 2019 June 20, Kyle Buchanan, “Octavia Spencer: Studios Are Calling Me. That’s a Paradigm Shift.”, in The New York Times[4], →ISSN:
      So the fact that people are calling me, a woman of a certain age and demographic, to sit down on studio films — which have not been my bread and butter — there’s definitely a paradigm shift.
    • 2022 March 9, Patrick Wintour, “Ukraine war marks paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11, says Liz Truss”, in The Guardian[5], →ISSN:
      The Russian invasion of Ukraine is causing a paradigm shift on the scale of 9/11 in how democracy will confront future threats, the foreign secretary, Liz Truss, will predict in Washington on Thursday.
    • 2023 February 7, James Vincent, “Microsoft announces new Bing and Edge browser powered by upgraded ChatGPT AI”, in The Verge[6]:
      Google, meanwhile, has been caught off guard by what some are claiming is a paradigm shift in how users find information on the web.


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See also[edit]


  • Joe Miller (9 February 2018), “Are these the worst examples of business jargon?”, in BBC News[7], BBC

Further reading[edit]