If you really want to teach someone something, starting with a misconception and working backwards is one of the best techniques.
A new video from Veritasium does just that. In the new segment, host Derek Muller debunks one of the most common misconceptions about science – namely, that science is simply a steady, gradual way of accumulating knowledge.
According to Thomas Kuhn, author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, this conventional view of science isn't entirely accurate.
Instead, Kuhn proposes two different types of science. The first is normal science, which is the slow, steady progression of ideas that most people associate with science.
The second, however, is called revolutionary science, and it's entirely different from what we commonly imagine science is.
Most scientists work within normal science, but when an anomaly pops up, or the study doesn't really fit into the pre-existing paradigm, scientists must turn to revolutionary science.
Before Copernicus, for instance, we thought Earth was the center of the universe, with other stars and planets revolving around it. Then Copernicus came along and suggested that maybe Earth was just another planet that revolved around the sun.
You'd think that everyone would see the logic of Copernicus' idea straight away, but that wasn't how it all shook out.
By the time Copernicus built his theory, the older Ptolemaic model of the universe had existed for so long and had been refined so much that it actually created better predictions than the Copernican model.
As a result, it took a long time for scientists to abandon their pre-existing paradigm and subscribe to Copernicus' revolutionary new model.
"That's what I call revolutionary science," said Muller.
"That's a period where our entire notions of the universe change."