Evolutionary Moments

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By Karen Henry
Karen Henry

In a world where change buzzes, sometimes almost dizzyingly, around us, our belief systems—our fundamental ways of understanding the world and our place in it—ground us. But when an established belief system is confronted with a new way of thinking, conflict often ensues. As more evidence emerges to support the validity of a new belief system, the conflict reaches a crescendo, and in the end, either the original belief system is maintained or a new belief system is adopted.

In his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996), refers to these evolutionary moments, when the fundamental understanding of a scientific theory, a social construct, or even a profession changes, as paradigm shifts. These shifts are happening all around us. Newspapers and magazines are rethinking the traditional print delivery model. Movie studios and major media outlets are rethinking their content distribution models. And as the debate about healthcare reform rages on, our ideas about wellness and healthcare delivery are in flux.

This month, The O&P EDGE turns its attention to the pedorthic profession, which seems to be going through its own paradigm shift of sorts. Betta Ferrendelli takes a look at how the Pedorthic Footcare Association (PFA) is responding to changes in the pedorthic profession in her article,"What's in a Name? How the Pedorthic Footcare Association Has Evolved from a Footwear to a Footcare Model". As the pedorthic profession finds its footing in this new model, there has also been a shift, for some, in business practices, which Miki Fairley highlights in her article, "Finding the Right Fit: How to Create a Pedorthic Practice/Business Model that Works in Today's Market". In his article, "Exploring a New Paradigm in Biomechanics," Séamus Kennedy, BEng (Mech), CPed, asks whether current theories of biomechanics adequately describe the functioning foot and lower limb.

Kuhn argues that the typical developmental pattern of a mature science is the successive transition from one paradigm to another through a process of revolution. When a paradigm shift takes place, "a scientist's world is qualitatively transformed [and] quantitatively enriched by fundamental novelties of either fact or theory."

I agree with this, but I would also argue that regardless of the outcome—whether the current paradigm is maintained or a new one takes hold—our understanding and knowledge is enriched and our sense of purpose is reinvigorated.

Thanks for reading.

Karen Henry