30 Jun 2010

Paradigm erm what? A word adventure.

I have been thinking again.................. I know, I know, what am I doing that for?

It all started with a simple tweet from @zebraspolkadots, and a link to her blog post Claiming A New Paradigm...For Myself. This post intrigued me, in fact just the word 'paradigm' grabbed my attention. So then she wrote this post Claiming A New Paradigm For Myself-Part 2  and finally part 3.

Paradigm is/was one of those words that registered somewhere is this brain of mine, but I wasn't sure why and it what context I had heard the word previously. So I decided to go on a google adventure of sorts, find the origin of my paradigm memory and then try to understand the context in which @zebraspolkadots intended in her posts. My brain has felt more than flabby lately and I fully admit to not knowing everything, even though at times I act like the worlds biggest smart arse. Why pretend to understand something when I plainly don't?  It is exciting and challenging learning new things,so hold onto your hats, because I may confuse you, as much as I confuse myself with this post.

First I insert 'Paradigm' into the great googly moogly and trawl through the results until I get a 'Bingo!' moment. That is when I read something that either tickles a memory and/or makes sense to me.

The bare bones definition is:
The word paradigm ( Greek:παράδειγμα (paradigma),composite from para- and the verb δείχνυμι "to show", as a whole -roughly- meaning "example") has been used in linguistics and science to describe distinct concepts.

A more realistic definition for me:
The most annoying and misused word in the English language; used intentionally by stupid people to sound smart or by smart people to sound unintentionally stupid. Urban Dictionary

The first thing that tickled a memory was seeing these images whilst reading about 'Paradigm Shift'
Old Woman and Young Woman My Wife and My Mother-In-Law, by the cartoonist W. E. Hill, 1915 (adapted from a picture going back at least to a 1888 German postcard)

Duck/Rabbit Source: Jastrow, J. (1899). The mind's eye. Popular Science Monthly, 54, 299-312.

Both of these images, show how you can look at the same thing and in turn 'see' two different things. Nothing about the image changes, just your perception of it. A dude called Thomas Kuhn, knows a lot more about this subject than  I do 'Paradigm Shifts'.

But that is not the paradigm you are looking for.....(said in Obi-Wan Kenobi stylee)

So on I plod in search of this elusive Paradigm definition that would make sense to me and I try not to get ahead of myself with 'paradigm shifts', before I actually know what a Paradigm really is.

It seems that I have wandered into the world of, god forbid, buzzwords... You know those horrid things that sales and marketing people love to use, as they target us poor members of the public. People really don't like buzzwords and jargon, as seen here , but underneath all the bullshit, they are metaphors that can be applied to all sorts of life situations.

Heard of the term 'Thinking outside the box' ? Did you ever wonder what the box was, what was inside that box? Well it turns out the 'box' is in fact a bloody paradigm! Who would of thunk it, that bloody box holds a lot of information. In that box a lot of things lurk, dark nasty things, like:
  • The World is flat
  • Creation instead of Evolution
  • Moon is made of cheese
  • Other evil things 
Outside the box, lives Blue Skies and all sorts of lovely things, in fact, outside the box the possibilities are endless. It even holds the key to solving the Nine Dots Puzzle! woo hoo.

So it seems, that I am in fact leaving the science behind and in fact talking about labels that people stick on you, as you plod through life. Think of yourself sat in the box, what labels, or to be fancy, what paradigms have been stuck on you?

Nobody puts Claire in a box! ( Must be said in a Patrick Swayze style R.I.P Mr Swayze)

Actually I am pretty sure people have put me in a box, in fact I have put myself in a box many times over my life. The 'I am ugly' , ' I am worthless', 'I am stupid' and 'I am fat' box, to name but a few. I also know that other people get labelled with damaging things like 'You are mental' 'You are crazy' 'You are broken' 'You are damaged goods' and I am sure you can add a shit load to that list.

People eventually accepted that the earth was not flat, does this mean that eventually people will accept that the labels you are given in this life, are not stuck on with superglue and you can rip them off. I am sure ripping the labels off can be painful, but surely once the sting has gone, the scab really heals over the wounds left by those labels and you can flick it off? Was that a scab metaphor to far? 

I created the doodle during the weekend just gone and to decided to test my twitter followers doodle guessing skills,to see if they could guess what one word prompted the above doodle, without any other information than the actual doodle itself.

After quite a few guesses, one person got it right, so I am sending them the doodle for their hard work, lucky them?

Paradigm Doodle explained: It makes sense to me and that is what really matters......
Click image to make it BIG

Other interesting and far more sensible paradigm like articles are here and here, also a fascinating video featuring Ken Robinson here (really worth a watch).

I don't know what the point of this post was really, I just found the subject rather bloody interesting and would hate to be sat in a box all alone, never to be shifted.


  1. Rubbing my eyes in astonishment at this post. A Claire with this many brains is a decidedly daunting parad... concept, and I am forced to admit I did have you stuck in a particular box. Now that you are no longer in that box, in my mind, I'm not quite sure where to put you now. In a place with more respect, to be sure. I really liked this post. I think I actually understand it, too.

  2. Crikey young Claire ..... up to now I had no idea you might have a brain .... *reassesses whole belief system* ..... tee heee heeeeeee ..... and don't mention boxes to me!!!

  3. Brilliant :)

    I can't decide whether it's a rabbit or a duck, but I have decided that in the paradigm-shifted world where blue skies, endless possibilities and freedom from the frustration of the nine dot puzzle lie, you do not live in a box and are Minister of Deconstructing Buzzwords.


  4. Our brains are amazing things! I found something similar a few weeks ago that grabbed my attention just as much about why the moon ~looks~ so huge on the horizon -- turns out there is a name for it to: Ponzo Illusion. Search Bad Astronomer Ponzo Illusion (the url is huge) to find the blog entry.

    Great post! I love the Doodle and I am jelly of the winner.

  5. Yeah, I admit it you totally lost me with that one. Clearly you are operating on a different intellectual plain. :)

    But now that you explain it... no, you're still on your own. But you are unique in your brilliance so that's ok.


  6. Cracking post - learned something I needed to learn today. I'm bored of the same old same old, time that paradigm got changed. Hmmm. I guess it's probably impossible to chuck out all paradigms tho, as you'd just replace them with new ones, or even worse, wouldn't notice that you had a paradigm to start with. Erm...oh.

  7. Love the doodle. Is it more colorful and cheerful than usual, or am I having an out of box experience? Ever since you used my rainbow aphorism in a previous post, I knew you were a wise woman at heart, and since then my only paradigm for you has been: "Magnificent."

  8. in a box all alone - depending on the size it might be better to be alone in there.

    Boxes are packaging and people should not be packaged. So run free and see rabbits, ducks, young and old women all at the same time.
    nice post - good thinking

  9. What an inspiring post Claire! I had a paradigm shift moment myself a few weeks ago. I decided to not let my "good girl" box constrain me anymore and just enjoy what life brings.

    Right now I'm in the "failed grad student" box and it feels awful, pass me a box cutter, will ya?

  10. My aren't we a little para... thingy. Wonderful post. The best thing I like about paramathimgies is that life itself is a paradigm; we tend to put things in boxes and limit their possibilities, which is a shame really, because we supress our individuality by doing that.
    Great post, enjoyed your observations.


  11. Love the doodle Claire and the post was great. I've been trying this week to change my perspective on myself as I was challenged by my psychologist to put all my dark thoughts about myself into a lock box at the back of my mind and try to remain positive about myself and my situation. Does this make my dark thought lock box a paradigm and I'm thinking outside of it? I'm on a twelve day no sleep marathon so my brain isn't working quite as quick as usual but reading this post has cheered me up due to the great writing and great art so I thank you Claire.

  12. I love hate/comments at the moment! I REALLY wish blogger would sort out a decent reply system!!!!

    So yet again I am inflicting a humongous all in one reply, that I usually end up deleting about three times and wonder if anyone even reads it.

    @Relax Max, you really should know by now that I full of surprises :)

    @DaddyP, I think people that wear boxes on their head are making a radical statement to the world, that no one puts them in a box!

    @James, I think it is more rabbit like to me, the duck looks weird? I want to be Minister of Deconstructing Buzzwords! That would such a wonderful job! Love your comment :) :)

    , Ponzo Illusion, that was cool! I have always wondered why the moon looks so huge! You are right about our brains, they are amazing and I hope that I always find new things out and keep my brain in working order. Glad you like the doodles! :)

    @WoundedGenius, Not sure its the intellectual plain that is different, just the way of processing information, as I know you have a HUMONGOUS brain :)

    @Aethernaut, I am SO pleased that firstly people understand this post and I didn't make a total hash of it, secondly that you want to shift something. I think my head may explode if I thought to much about getting rid of all paradigms and starting from scratch.

    @NP 'Out of box experience' that made laugh. It is more colourful than usual, but that is probably down to changing my doodle equipment, as I have been practising watercolours. Although it was done whilst sat outside in the sunshine and that no doubt influenced it.

    @lisleman You are so right in saying that people should not be packaged, but I think we shall continue to do it anyways! Thanks for reading :)

    @Deray, Oh how exciting! Are you going to write about it? Would love to read more about what got you there? Unless it is private and I shall just cheer you along :)

    Hmm make room for me in that failed student box!

    @Argentum, What a great comment, yes life is a paradigm that we set for ourselves, or our parents set for us. We go along to the box store and pick out the box that will house us for the rest of our lives, without even knowing it most of the time.

    @Jean Luc, Thanks! Hope that is a good wow?

    @Andrew, Hey Andrew, I think your psychologist is indeed challenging you to shift what you think about yourself. It is very hard to write or even think nice things about yourself, in college we were challenged to write two lists, one positive and one negative about ourselves. It was far easier to write the negative one. But then when we were asked to do the lists for someone else, it was MUCH easier to write the positive things about someone else. So now after a lot of practice I can write nice/positive things about myself without feeling daft and I also hold onto the nice things that people say about me. It is a challenge, but there are positive things about everyone and I know there are lots of positive things about you! Good luck with it :) :) :)

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  14. Well Claire! What a wonderful lot of friends you have here in your world of bits and pieces! I actually thought I'd posted a comment the day you put this up - but in hindsight realized that was my tweet-fest with you....:)

    And...I am totally thrilled that you found such a wonderfully creative use for that-word-that-shall-no-longer-be-mentioned here today! I am excited to share this doodle with my readers and hopefully a few will stop and comment...I asked them to let you know that they came from via the house where that really cool Zebra lives!

    Lovelovelovelove your doodles!


  15. love it Claire - I talk about paradigms in the workshops I run and this is just fab at explaining it - sometimes so difficult to get your head around it but this does it brilliantly

  16. It's the longest comment response list in history.. let's make it longer.

    Carpitt- what is the meaning of life please?

  17. Hi Rebekah! Great to see you here!

    Jenny! thank you for sharing the link!


  18. What the heck a doodle!!! I replied to the latest comments, where the hell are my comments.

    /checks behind sofa

    Hmmmm mysterious!