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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

Disproving the Hierarchical Model of Science and Proposing a New Model of Science: The Overlapping Proteiform Bubble Model of Science

Abstract

The current research tested the validity of the traditional Compteian hierarchical model of science that parses science into a hard, medium, and soft taxonomy. Categorical typicality demonstrates conceptual structures and each category has a prototype with some members of a category better representing the prototype than other members. It was assumed that science is a social construct and the overarching concept of science results from a social agreement derived from the combination of individual conceptual structures of science. As such, the structure of science could be investigated by examining the categorical representations of various sciences held by individuals. Participants (N = 188) ranked 15 fields from most sciency to least sciency. Spearman’s rho was calculated to examine the relationships between the rankings of the fields. There were two ways the correlations could have supported the existence of a hierarchical model of science. First, if science was made of fields on a linear continuum from hard to soft, the correlations should be greatest between items that were adjacent one another in the linear hierarchy than the correlations with fields not adjacent to one another. Second, if science was hierarchical and clustered in horizontal dimensions of hard, medium, and soft, the correlations of the fields inside each horizontal cluster should have been higher with one another than the correlations with fields in the other clusters. Typicality rankings failed to confirm the traditional hierarchical model of science. The Overlapping Proteiform Bubble Model of Science was proposed that assumes science is organic and, as opposed to an externally defined artificial concept, is a natural concept that results from an implicit social agreement derived from the combination of individual conceptual structures of science, which allows singular instances of knowledge to be shared by multiple fields of science.

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