Are We in the Middle of a Paradigm Shift?

In 1905, Albert Einstein blew up the basic fabric of scientific thinking and paved the shift from Newtonian physics to quantum physics as a more accurate explanation for how the world works. Surprisingly, some implications of the new paradigm were too alien and disturbing for Einstein to accept. Quantum physics introduced uncertainty and chaos as essential aspects of the reality we live in. As genius as Einstein was, he couldn’t accept the idea that the world was fundamentally chaotic. In 1926, he wrote that God “does not play dice” with the universe. 1

If Einstein was such a creative thinker that he literally redefined our view of the world, why did he reject one of the basic implications of quantum physics?

What Exactly Is a Paradigm Shift?

Einstein was only human, and resistance is built in to the human brain. This means that we are uncomfortable with major changes. In his book Paradigms, Joel A. Barker observes, “A paradigm shift is a change to a new game, a new set of rules.” 2 He points out that when the rules change, the big winners in the old paradigm are seldom as successful: “When a paradigm shifts, everyone goes back to zero.” 3

A paradigm shift is an enormous process for any industry. Large companies fail and new ones take over: Netflix replaced Blockbuster; Google replaced AltaVista. These shifts happen when a series of innovative steps coalesce into a new set of operating assumptions.