Title 5 – K Q 3 : How does duration of Historical development impact production of knowledge?




Over a long duration of time the best of theories have been shown to be incomplete especially in the areas of Natural sciences , Social sciences and History. The theories might explain a lot of phenomena using a few basic principles, predict new results but sooner or later with time , new and more precise experiments show a discrepancy between the workings of nature and the predictions of these theories. It may appear that the theories were not ‘Accurate’ to begin with , in spite of the fact that these were very good approximation of the truth or the reality addressed to understand and know but could not stand the test of time.


Similarly , over a long duration, the Evidence gathered through observations or data inspire, lend support to, or help refute scientific hypotheses and theories. Evidence has been the foundational element for testing of hypotheses and theories in areas of Natural sciences , Social sciences and History. This knowledge, built over centuries, has been continously tested and refined through a very rigorous scientific method that derives its power and legistimacy from evidence.

On the other hand , there are Areas of knowledge where the argument of “ the lack of Empirical Evidence” figures very strongly and persists even after long duration of time affecting the “ Quality of knowledge production”. For instance in case of Religious systems , Atheists and Believers debate that there has not been any reliable , testable evidence to support the hypothesis that God exists and it is therefore NOT rational to believe that there is a God. Because , if God exists and interacts with us , then God’s interactions must be measurable and detectable in some way but no such interactions have been observed or measured till date. The Atheists further argue that Faith , being personal , private and unmeasurable , is a great excuse to evade the need to bring in evidence in Religion.

In the past century or so, doubts have been raised on the efficacy of the tests and methods based entirely on Evidence itself . “In 1958, Norwood Hanson in  Patterns of Discovery undermined the division of observation versus theory, as one can predict, collect, prioritize, and assess data only via some horizon of expectation set by a theory. Thus, any dataset—the direct observations, the scientific facts—is laden with theory.” Norwood Russell Hanson first coined the term ‘ theory laden character of observation’ suggesting the idea that the observations is dependent on the initial set conceptual framework of the observer. Basically you will look only for what you have thought or known or conceptualised ; our preconceptions affect our observation and description.