Saturday, April 22, 2017

Paradigm Shifts

Since my post referencing Jung was thoroughly trashed and then ignored, here is one that Jerry (and Stuart?) won't be able to resist.  (Jim's in Bali so he's off the hook this time.)  I ran across this in a discussion of the sorry state of conventional economic wisdom.

Three before their time: neuroscientists whose ideas were ignored by their contemporaries

I discuss three examples of neuroscientists whose ideas were ignored by their contemporaries but were accepted as major insights decades or even centuries later. 
  1. The first is Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) whose ideas on the functions of the cerebral cortex were amazingly prescient. 
  2. The second is Claude Bernard (1813–1878) whose maxim that the constancy of the internal environment is the condition for the free life was not understood for about 50 years when it came to dominate the development of modern physiology. 
  3. The third is Joseph Altman (1925–) who overturned the traditional dogma that no new neurons are made in the adult mammalian brain and was vindicated several decades later.
Here's a good article if anyone wants to see how a similar situation is playing out in economics:  
MMT is what is, not what might be (warning, it's rather long).  Here's a relatively brief excerpt describing the general phenomenon of scientific revolutions:

Academic disciplines (such as, neurobiologists, archaeology, economists etc.) work within organised ‘paradigms’, which philosopher Thomas Kuhn identified in his 1962 book – The Structure of Scientific Revolutions – as “universally recognized scientific achievements that, for a time, provide model problems and solutions for a community of practitioners”...
Rather, Kuhn said that dominant viewpoints persist until they are confronted with insurmountable anomalies, whereupon a revolution (paradigm shift) occurs. The new paradigm exposes the old theories as inapplicable, introduces new concepts, asks new questions and provides students with a new way of thinking with a new language and explanatory metaphors...
The work of Joseph Altman, Jacques Cinq-Mars, Barry Marshall and countless others across all discplines represented the potential for a paradigm shift and was resisted by the mob until change became ineluctable.
Not all novel ideas face this sort of brick wall. But when the professional bodies become trapped by Groupthink and, typically, there is status and money at stake (particularly, commercial edge) then resistance can be fierce and prolonged...
The following discusses the above with respect to economics, so you can ignore it if you've had enough (c:

The point to understand is that MMT is a system of thought that allows us to understand how a fiat currency monetary system operates and the central role that government can play in a modern monetary economy...
What is mostly ignored in mainstream economic commentary is that in August 1971, the monetary system agreed at the famous Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, which required the central banks of participating nations to maintain their currencies at agreed fixed rates against the US dollar, collapsed.
The system proved unworkable and when President Nixon abandoned the convertibility of the US dollar into gold, most nations moved to a fiat currency system...
Different nations (or blocs of nations) structure and use the capacity possessed by a fiat currency in different ways. The Eurozone Member States voluntarily ceded the capacity to Frankfurt and then imposed harsh rules on themselves with respect to net spending.
Other nations have evolved differently.
But the point is that every day, across every nation, monetary systems are in place that operate along the lines described and explained by MMT...
MMT, as a new powerful lens, makes things that are obscured by neo-liberal narratives more transparent.
It means that the series of interlinked myths that are advanced by conservative forces to distract us from understanding causality and consequence in policy-making and non-government sector decision-making are exposed.
There is much similarity with traditional religion, as I see it.


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