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Nick Enfield contributes to Edge.org’s Annual Question

MPI senior investigator Nick Enfield is an invited contributor to the famous “Annual Question” on the science forum Edge.org. This year’s question is ‘What scientific idea is ready for retirement?'
Nick Enfield contributes to Edge.org’s Annual Question

Nick Enfield Foto: Bert Beelen

January 17, 2014

This year the question has its origin in a remark made by theoretical physicist Max Planck: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." Edge.org adds: "Why wait that long? What scientific idea is ready for retirement? Ideas change, and the times we live in change. Perhaps the biggest change today is the rate of change. What established scientific idea is ready to be moved aside so that science can advance?”

Science advances by discovering new things and developing new ideas. Few truly new ideas are developed without abandoning old ones first. Enfield’s contribution captures an important element of research going on at the MPI Nijmegen within his European Research Council project ‘Human Sociality and Systems of Language Use’, and the Interactional Foundations of Language project in the Language and Cognition Department. The idea for retirement? "A Science of Language Should Be Concerned Only With 'Competence' and not with 'Performance'"

The full set of responses to the Edge.org Annual Question can be viewed here: http://www.edge.org

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