Rather, I’d like to take this opportunity to bemoan the fact that Pullum is uncritically invoking Kuhnian philosophy of science:
Maybe revolution is not quite the right metaphor. I know Thomas Kuhn taught us that science develops through revolutions, the detailed work being done under the assumptions of the last one during periods of “normal science.” And it’s an exciting thought, the idea of an annus mirabilis when the whole conceptual world turns upside down, and what was formerly nonsense becomes accepted science (and vice versa), and old guys who don’t get with the program are left to face an embittered retirement. But I’m inclined to think it isn’t quite like that in this case.
I’d give him credit for challenging the idea that “it isn’t quite like that in this case” if I wasn’t already convinced that it’s never quite like that. As Larry Laudan wrote in 1986 (for the record, that’s 27 years ago) in Science and Values (p. xii, in the preface; emphasis mine):
In sum, this is a book about the role of cognitive values in the shaping of scientific rationality. Among recent writers, no one has done more to direct our attention to the role of cognitive standards and values in science than Thomas Kuhn. Indeed, for more than two decades, the views of Thomas Kuhn – and reactions to them – have occupied center stage in accounts of scientific change and scientific rationality. That is as it should be, for Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions caused us all to rethink our image of what science is and how it works. There can be no on active in philosophy, history, or sociology of science whose approach to the problem of scientific rationality has not been shaped by the Gestalt switch Kuhn wrought on our perspective on science. This debt is so broadly recognized that there is no need to document it here. Less frequently admitted is the fact that, in the twenty-two years since the appearance of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, a great deal of historical scholarship and analytic spadework has moved our understanding of the processes of scientific rationality and scientific change considerably beyond the point where Kuhn left it.
Indeed, we are now in a position to state pretty unequivocally that Kuhn’s model of scientific change, as developed in Structure and elaborated in The Essential Tension, is deeply flawed, not only in its specifics but in its central framework assumptions. It is thus time to acknowledge that, for all its pioneering virtue, Kuhn’s Structure ought no longer be regarded as the locus classicus, the origin and fount, for treatments of these questions. It is time to say so publicly and openly, lest that larger community of scientists and interested laymen, who have neither the time nor the inclination to follow the esoteric technical literature of these fields, continues to imagine that Kuhn’s writings represent the last (or at least the latest) word on these matters.
Some simple math puts the origins of Kuhn’s ideas right around the time the so-called cognitive revolution began (though, as argued by Pullum, it’s not clear exactly when the cognitive revolution started, or even if it has a discernible beginning). It seems that Laudan’s nearly thirty year old call to move past Kuhn’s Structure either wasn’t heard or wasn’t heeded.