THE FIVE STAGES OF ANY USEFUL PHENOMENON


There are five stages of any useful phenomenon:

1. To not be aware of its existence at all.  (pre-history)

2. To occasionally become aware that it exists as a stand-alone phenomenon, thus recognizing its unique existence.  (pseudo science -> discovery)

3. To consciously look for its existence.  (discovery -> research)

4. To find ways it can be intentionally and consistently repeated.  (scientific development -> engineering)

5. It is widely used, with some people unaware there was ever a time when they didn’t have it.  (engineering -> ubiquity)

When in stage 1, no one knows it exists.

When in stage 2, not everyone accepts that it exists.

When in stage 3, science has begun.

When in stage 4, engineering has begun.

With stage 5, it has, in part, become part of the background again.

Yes, I am saying that pseudo science is a stage of science.  The pseudo stage may be long, or it may be essentially non-existent when it is an accidental discovery such as white light LEDs or the semi-accidental discovery of graphene, for which the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded.  Or the quick discovery of PCR, the DNA chain reaction that makes genetics such a tool today.

Let us not forget that several sciences of today were frowned upon for decades – psychology and psychiatry, for example.  Even medicine as we know it was fraught with things like bleeding and ‘vapors’ for much of its existence.  It was a long, slow slog from Galen to, say, Pasteur.

— Steve Garcia

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