The Creation of Paradigms

What is a Paradigm?

The alarm is set for 6 AM. You’ve told yourself tomorrow is the day to become an early riser. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, it goes off. You get up congratulating yourself for the small win. Barely able to keep your eyes open, you truck through the day. At night you’re beat and fall asleep as you hit the pillow. BEEP, BEEP, BEEP, this time you hit the snooze button and do it again and again, until the alarm clock gives up on you; it is useless anyway. One day becoming an early riser doesn’t really make you an early riser, does it? All your life you’ve been sleeping in so you’re not a morning person. That’s your paradigm. 

Paradigm’s run the show. When that 6 AM alarm clock goes off, paradigms operate covertly to keep you under the covers. That is if your paradigm tells you that you’re not a morning person. Paradigms can be as simple as a statement like that while others help you make sense of the world around you. They are important because I believe that without them people would be lost and confused. Making sense of the world around you often relies on obtaining the information to form that paradigm, and repetition of its maxim until it is fully ingrained. These paradigms can be constructive or destructive. Constructive when they are beneficial to the world and yourself. Destructive when they’re not. Paradigms are sneaky because they operate under conscious awareness so changing them often requires some level of introspection. 

Paradigms are not always a product of the individual but the collective culture as well. These cultural paradigms are commonly accepted beliefs about anything – the sky is blue, Canada is in North America, plants photosynthesize. Increased credibility of these paradigms directly correlates with how many people accept them. When Issac Newton came along, his ideas were accepted as scientific paradigms for almost a whole century. That is until a guy named Albert Einstein disrupted them to create a new paradigm. This is what science is all about. Nowadays, with the increased availability of information, people are subjected to a wide array of new paradigms. There is also an increased amount of people, organizations, and corporations aiming to spread their paradigms through all forms of media. Paradigms operate in what I like to envision as frame works. Each time some piece of new information, data, or observation enters the mind, that framework widens, or dissolves. However, I noticed that there are many contradictory, polarizing paradigms out there to make sense of the world around us, and since paradigms are formed unconsciously, how do we choose what to believe? I’ll attempt to get to that later, but first, I’d like to explain how individual paradigm formation is akin to the process of forming cultural paradigms. 

Disruptive Paradigms

I’m going to limit myself to talking about the formation of scientific paradigms. They all start with discourse. This encompasses general conversation and contemplation on a new thought, idea or what have you. Next comes testing, a way to validate discourse. If there is evidence for the new idea, you may be on the verge of creating a new paradigm. This is when another could test your claim for themselves to prove its credibility. Paradigm formation hinges on if others find it credible. If they do, frameworks within that field will be widened. Novel paradigms can do that, but disruptive paradigms can result in a paradigm shift, which can be seen as revolutionary. This is what happened when Newton came along, and then Einstein. It takes some time for disruptive paradigm shifts to occur and when they do, the fabric of cultural paradigms do not acquire a new stitch, but a whole makeover. Disruptive paradigm shifts act on both the collective unconscious and the individual exposed to the truths of the paradigm. 

How to Avoid Destructive Paradigms

The individual who is not an early riser has a simple paradigm express itself as an automatic thought in the morning, “I do not want to get up.” If desired, simple paradigms like this can be altered by modifying your self-concept to be an early riser. Done through habit and repetition, this can be achieved. However, there isn’t conclusive science on how long it takes to change these paradigms. Disruptive paradigms are not as menial as changing personal paradigms and they do not come around that often. It takes a revolutionary idea and subsequent action for a disruptive paradigm to be conceived. Even then, the disruptive paradigm must spread through the canals of modern culture to take hold. The internet is one example of this in the 1990s towards the turn of the millennium. Now, the internet is the medium by which disruptive paradigms can spread. Contrast this to ancient times where the practice of rhetoric was used for the same ends. These paradigms, once widely accepted, can influence those paradigms on the individual level. Think of the impact that Malcolm X or MLK had to that degree. Or even how Donald Trump and Q Anon catalyzed a self-perpetuating movement that culminated in the Capitol protests and riots. Disruptive paradigms can be dangerous or beneficial because of their inherent nature to alter the status quo. 

Internet access exposes people to an enormous amount of information. This was not possible 30 years ago. With this technology, anybody can write and talk about their ideas. Again, almost anybody can to this, so that means the internet is likely ridden with false claims. False claims, lead to false frameworks, and this leads to false paradigms. There are fact checkers all over the planet, so the credibility process will likely do its thing. The problem lies in the predisposition of many people accepting these claims as true before they are made false. Let’s push for people to question the information their exposed to in forming their own paradigms and the ability to modify paradigms that are not serving them – this is how we choose to believe in constructive paradigms. 

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