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In the following, I will use indiscriminately the words narrative and paradigm, because in this case a narrative is the rhetorical form of a paradigm.

Any new narrative/paradigm requires a leap of faith in the beginning. Verification/proof comes only afterwards. And this for very rational epistemological reasons.

First, we all believe in science, not as a religious belief, but as trust, because we are not able to make all the experiments which prove the laws of physics, chemicals, biology... We can learn which has been the process of a demonstration or experiment, but we nevertheless have to believe/trust the scientists. What makes us trust them is the specific culture and methods of the scientific community (openness, peer review, debate, reproducibility) but, at the end of the day we have to believe/trust them. Hence the scandal when a fraud is unveiled.

Second, the question of the proof is a very peculiar one in social sciences. It is very difficult to demonstrate/proof something in the field of social sciences. What they can do is propose models which have a good explanatory/heuristic power for a givens set of facts/phenomena. Only certain social sciences like experimental psychology and economy can demonstrate some  "laws", but these are "demonstrated" only within the conditions of the experimentation, and their transposition in real life is very problematic. (to use a quantum mechanics metaphor, the decoherence delay is very short...).

Third, and this has been clearly explained by Thomas Kuhn and Edgar Morin, there is a logical impossibility to demonstrate/prove the efficiency of a new narrative/paradigm. Why? Because, as it is new, it has not been widely tested/experimented. Even if the new narrative/paradigm is promising, its promises will only  be held in the future. And to test/experiment/prove it, you have to convince a significant number of persons (in Kuhn's case, scientists) who accept to drop the certainties/habits of the old narrative/paradigm and to adopt the uncertainties of the new one.

It's even more true if it's a new economic/social narrative, because you can only test/experiment it in real conditions, which means involving a number of people and institutions. For sure, your new paradigm will eventually have to deliver, otherwise, people will go back to the ancient one but, at the beginning, you have to rely upon a leap of faith.

That's the reason why I said that you have to seduce a significant number of people in order to make possible a  narrative change in the socio-economic domain.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Thu Mar 8th, 2007 at 03:27:48 PM EST
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