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Paradigm Inertia: Science of Reading

You See What Your Knowledge Tells You To See

Paradigms are the mental infrastructures that connect and unify the mental models through which we experience the world. Because paradigms, like religious beliefs, can become so deeply rooted in our identities, they can be very hard to change.  Sometimes they are hard to change for scientific reasons, but the most powerful form of resistance is personal, emotional, and thoroughly unscientific. Throughout history scientists and scholars have resisted changing paradigms when their egos, reputations, and incomes depended on defending them.

See post: Paradigm Inertia: Unscientific Learning

(See post: Paradigm Inertia: Oppenheimer)

The same is true for reading science. The unscientific, self-serving, defense of established reading science paradigms is the main impediment to our progress in reading.

Though each side in the so-called reading wars claims to have science on its side, all sides proceed from and defend the same underlying paradigm and its bedrock assumption:

Note: See Paradigm Inertia In Reading Science and Policy – Part 3: Learning Disabled Science ( for a more thorough exposition of the paradigm inertia that plagues scientific thought about reading. See also: How Do Kids Learn to Read? What the Science DOESN’T Say ( for a more thorough exposition of the assumption and a pathway to breaking through it.

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  1. John Steinbeck on "The Horrible Task of Learning to Read" - Learning Stewards - October 31, 2023

    […] understand what’s involved in the effort. And that’s the problem. It’s the “paradigm inertia” that disables our learning and by extension our children’s. Today’s national […]

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