Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Opinions Not Backed By Facts: Changing Paradigms
One of the biggest hurdles in research is the fact that lay people tend to have opinions about a subject without regarding the scientific literature. Therefore, a paradigm is created that is contrary to actual scientific findings. Historically this has occurred readily as when the world was discovered to be round instead of flat, or that the earth revolved around the sun and was not the only planet in the universe. Many scientists were killed over the years for revealing a "new findings". We see the resistance to new findings currently in dream research as people hold onto their paradigms. For example, there is a large body of literature that has shown that dream imagery is: a) linked to mental illness, b) specific to illnesses, and c) can aid in both diagnosis and treatment. For examples from the literature see: Beck, 1971; Bonime, 1962, Boss & Kenney, 1987; Brown & Donderi, 1986; Cartwright et al., 2006; Crook & Hill, 2003; Flowers & Zweben, 1996. As we study the scientific literature we can see that research findings reveal information that people cannot always accept; even when the findings are clear and repeated often. How can scientists help change the paradigms that popular culture hold when new research findings are revealed?