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Plank's principle

The Plank's principle suggests that age of the members of scientific community largely defines their acceptance or rejection of new ideas: they tend to be accepted by the youth and rejected by older scientists. The original formulation of Plank's principle is found in his Scientific biography (Plank, 1949: 33-34) in which he describes how it took him twenty years to convince his conservative colleagues of the value of his quantum hypothesis and concluded that: "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."

Plank's principle has been empirically confirmed by Hull, Tessner and Diamond (1978) who studied reception of Darwin's theory of natural selection. They discovered a ten-years difference in age of those who rejected and accepted Darwin's position and concluded that younger scientists did accept new ideas with greater alacrity than older scientists. To explain this phenomenon, Barber (1961) suggested that a key factor is not age but rather social variables connected with age such as the longer commitment of older scientists to the established paradigm expressed in a series publications, high professional standing, membership of established organizations and association with 'a school'.

Plank's principle is probably applicable not only to science but also to other domains of creativity. It may also offer insights into the creation of new ideas and explain why the diversity of creative ideas with age narrows to a single path (Simonton, 1994: 2002-203).

Plank's principle. Dictionary of Creativity: Terms, Concepts, Theories & Findings in Creativity Research / Compiled and edited by Eugene Gorny., 2007.
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