Archive for May 16th, 2014

May 16, 2014

Ortega Hypothesis

revolt of the masses

Jose Ortega y Gasset

The Ortega hypothesis holds that average or mediocre scientists contribute substantially to the advancement of science. According to this hypothesis, scientific progress occurs mainly by the accumulation of a mass of modest, narrowly specialized intellectual contributions. On this view, major breakthroughs draw heavily upon a large body of minor and little-known work, without which the major advances could not happen.

The Ortega hypothesis is widely held, but a number of systematic studies of scientific citations have favored the opposing ‘Newton hypothesis,’ which says that scientific progress is mostly the work of a relatively small number of great scientists (after Isaac Newton’s statement that he ‘stood on the shoulders of giants’).

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