Building a Body of Knowledge in Sport Science: A Return to Platt and Kuhn. (Sociocultural Aspects of Physical Activity)

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New knowledge is continually being developed in the exercise, sport, and movement sciences. Yet, these scientific endeavors may not be as efficient or productive as possible. Revisiting the writings of philosophers of science, such as John Platt (1964) and Thomas Kuhn (1962), offers a roadmap for more sophisticated inquiry that will produce enhanced understanding of sport and movement. For example, Platt warned about the pitfalls of "the frozen method" and "the all encompassing theory which can never be falsified" (p. 350). He suggested scientists should design crucial experiments that test competing explanations. This method, called "strong inference," focuses on designing studies that eliminate alternative hypotheses. Kuhn described the role of scientific paradigms in shaping how we do science and how we interpret data. He explained that "normal science" provides a set of rules grounded in an accepted paradigm. A paradigm refers to the accepted rules, standards, methodologies, and theories used when engaged in normal science (e.g., logical positivism is a paradigm). On one hand, shared paradigms provide a common foundation for examining research questions in that researchers test current, accepted theories with conventional methods. On the other hand, Kuhn warned that paradigms also limit creativity in theorizing and in methodology. Kuhn further explained that a scientific crisis occurs when there is a proliferation of new theories attempting to explain a phenomenon or when a commonly accepted theory fails to explain new data. …