Emergence and Decline of Scientific Paradigms and Epidemics

Mogens H. Jensen

Short Abstract
Scientific paradigms have a tendency to rise fast and decline slowly. This asymmetry reflects the difficulty in developing a truly original idea. We describe a model for the emergence and spread of ideas where the likelihood of spread is proportional to the 'size' of the idea but where it is forbidden to return to an already abandoned concept [1]. We obtain a fairly regular pattern of global paradigm shifts, where older paradigms are eroded and subsequently replaced by new ones. The model allows for frozen events in terms of the coexistence of multiple metastable states [1]. We discussion a similar model where the ability to transmit a particular epidemic disease depends on competing infections as well as on the status of host immunity [2]. The model exhibits an unlimited number of unrelated pathogens whose interaction is simplified to simple mutual exclusion. The model incorporates an immunity (like for paradigms) to past diseases, while leaving the system open for emergence of new diseases. We find a rich dynamical behavior with interacting infection waves, leaving broad trails of immunization in the host population [2]. If time allows we briefly discuss how coherence effects lead to a gain-loss asymmetry in the stock markets [3].

[1] S. Bornholdt, M. H. Jensen, and K. Sneppen Emergence and Decline of Scientific Paradigms Phys. Rev. Lett. 106, 058701 (2011)

[2] K. Sneppen, A. Trusina, M.H. Jensen and S. Bornholdt S A Minimal Model for Multiple Epidemics and Immunity Spreading. PLoS ONE 5(10): e13326 (2010)

[3] R Donangelo, M.H. Jensen I. Simonsen and K. Sneppen, Synchronization Model for Stock Market Asymmetry, J. Stat. Mech. 11, L11001 (2006).