The reading list
“Fifty years ago this month, one of the most influential books of the 20th century was published by the University of Chicago Press. Many if not most lay people have probably never heard of its author, Thomas Kuhn, or of his book, 'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions,' but their thinking has almost certainly been influenced by his ideas. The litmus test is whether you've ever heard or used the term 'paradigm shift,' probably the most used – and abused – term in contemporary discussions of organisational change and intellectual progress.
“… The real measure of Kuhn's importance, however, lies not in the infectiousness of one of his concepts but in the fact that he singlehandedly changed the way we think about mankind's most organised attempt to understand the world. Before Kuhn, our view of science was dominated by philosophical ideas about how it ought to develop ('the scientific method'), together with a heroic narrative of scientific progress as 'the addition of new truths to the stock of old truths, or the increasing approximation of theories to the truth, and in the odd case, the correction of past errors,' as the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy puts it. Before Kuhn, in other words, we had what amounted to the Whig interpretation of scientific history …”
– From “Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science” at guardian.co.uk
What percentage of people worldwide are left-handed?
Wisdom of the ages
“It is better to live rich than to die rich.” – Samuel Johnson
“We can no longer push off the tough decisions until tomorrow. It's time to address the serious fiscal challenges we face and stop spending money we don't have.” — No. 2 House Republican Eric Cantor, after the Treasury Department said that the national debt has topped $16 trillion.
Between 10 and 12 percent, with women slightly more likely to be lefties.
gull (guhl), v. – to deceive, trick or cheat, as in: “The editorial writer wondered what lie about new taxes the politician would try to gull him with.” Of uncertain origin, but “gullible” comes from the same place.
Today in history
On this date in 1939, President Roosevelt declared a “limited national emergency” due to the war in Europe; “limited” obviously once meant something entirely different.
Now you know
The first woman to run for U.S. president was Victoria Woodhull, who campaigned for the office in 1872 under the National Woman’s Suffrage Association. While women would not be granted the right to vote by a constitutional amendment for nearly 50 years, there were no laws prohibiting a woman from running for the chief executive position.