Sunday, 30 September 2012

How Open-minded am I? Paradigms & Dogmas

     “A paradigm, most simply, is both a model of and a template for reality. Complementary terms include ‘belief system’ and ‘worldview.’ Just as a fish cannot breathe outside of the water it swims in, so an individual operating within a paradigm is subject to the illusion that the paradigm represents the whole of reality. But no paradigm does. All models of reality, no matter how complex, are bound to leave out some aspects of the ‘reality’ they are attempting to model. Many paradigms come to constitute relatively closed conceptual systems that discount or exclude incompatible information, regardless of its potential validity within another paradigm. In the Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1970), philosopher Thomas Kuhn demonstrated that, far from being an accurate model of reality, the most a paradigm can be is a set of beliefs about the nature of an ultimately unknowable universe.
     The limitations of paradigms are counterbalanced by their advantages: paradigms provide clear conceptual models that facilitate one’s movement in the world. In acting not only as models of – but also as templates for – reality, paradigms enable us to behave in organized ways, to take action that make sense under a given set of principles. ‘To paradigm,’ if you will, is to create the world through the story we tell about it. We then can live as cultural beings in the organized and coherent paradigmatic world we have created. We cannot live without paradigms. But we can learn to be conscious and aware of how they influence our thoughts and shape our experience, to understand that they open some possibilities while closing others. That awareness can bring a rare kind of freedom – the freedom to ‘think beyond.’
     Davis-Floyd R, St. John G. “From doctor to healer. The transformative journey.” Rutgers University Press, London, 1998.

     “… the open-minded person is one who is able and willing to form an opinion, or revise it, in the light of evidence and argument.” William Hare
       Sellman D. Open-mindedness: a virtue for professional practice. Nurs Philos 2003; 4(1): 17-24.

     “persons who exhibited ‘intolerance of ambiguity’ were disinclined to think in terms of probability, tended to favor stereotypes and showed a marked discomfort with ambiguity by escaping into whatever seemed concrete. … intolerance for ambiguity (has been defined) as ‘the tendency to perceive situations that are novel, complex or insoluble, as sources of threat.’ Moreover, intolerance of ambiguity has been associated with a constellation of other personality traits including rigidity, authoritarianism, dogmatism and ethnocentrism, with socially relevant phenomena such as religiosity and conventionality, and with the inability to adapt to cognitive stimuli that are at variance with conventional reality.”
       Geller G. et al. Measuring physicians' tolerance for ambiguity and its relationship to their reported practices regarding genetic testing. Med Care 1993; 31(11): 989-1001.

      See also:

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