Page 202 - MODES of EXPLANATION

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in a word meaning “to view” or “to make a spectacle”. Thus, it might be said that a
theory is primarily a form of
insight
, i.e. a way of looking at the world, and not a form
of
knowledge
of how the world is. (1980: 4)
Bohm is likening a theory to a set of models cast in comparable terms. This allows models
and experiments to be set in each other’s context. While models improve narratives by
grounding them, theories are actually tested in experiment.
[insert Figure 5]
Figure 14.5
Models, questions, and experiments are not simply different, they are
different as logical types. The same applies to the narrative, theory, hypothesis
relationship. It is hard to cross levels, and that has hidden the commonality heretofore
and led to some muddled use of the terminology. Local narratives build
metanarratives (Zellmer et al., 2006).
Figure 14.5 stacks up four levels of point of view, and the devices for testing ideas. As an
example of a metanarrative at the top of the figure is Kuhn’s notion of paradigm shifts. His
metanarrative is built from local examples of rapid scientific change, where defensive
subterfuge and misrepresentation abound. Kuhn’s most energetic critics show that his own
examples did not work the way he says. The same can happen when models generally
support but do not completely agree with the narrative. Lower-level devices can assist their
upper-level account, but they do not have to fit exactly because of the uncertainty that
accompanies level change. Experience the idiocy of peer review, and you know that Kuhn’s
grand narrative of endemic unfairness in paradigm fights rings true even if his examples do
not.
There are high- and low-quality narratives. Models raise narrative quality by inviting
them to be consistent with something held with some confidence. For instance, Allen
predicted that a mix of plant types would increase complexity, which should increase the
capacity of vegetation to do work (Allen et al., 2003). The work the plants did was by using
heat to evaporate water. Therefore, more work was signaled by a cooler vegetation surface,
because of the consumption of heat in the active process of evaporation. The experiment
showed Allen that he was wrong: the vegetation made of mixed fast and slow wind-reared
plants was warm at all wind speeds. It appeared that diversity lowered the work achieved,
against expectations. Nevertheless, being human and a storyteller, Allen said to himself, “I
can’t be
that
wrong.” So he wrestled with the experimental result, which led him to realize
that he had mistaken complicatedness for complexity.
Complexity is not just diverse, but also costly and efficiently organized; meanwhile,
something only complicated is simply a sum of parts with no increased organization. As an
example, the expeditionary Allied Force landing at Casablanca in the Second World War was
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