Measured Against Reality

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science

Here's a cool paper from Science about why adults can be so hostile to scientific ideas. Unfortunately subscription is required (at least I think it is, it's hard to tell), but here's the abstract:

Resistance to certain scientific ideas derives in large part from assumptions and biases that can be demonstrated experimentally in young children and that may persist into adulthood. In particular, both adults and children resist acquiring scientific information that clashes with common-sense intuitions about the physical and psychological domains. Additionally, when learning information from other people, both adults and children are sensitive to the trustworthiness of the source of that information. Resistance to science, then, is particularly exaggerated in societies where nonscientific ideologies have the advantages of being both grounded in common sense and transmitted by trustworthy sources.

The article discusses some interesting research into how receptive people are to ideas as children and adults (using some experiments I hadn't heard of before), how we learn, and how we evaluate information. It's pretty good, I recommend reading it if you can.



  • To be honest, I was quite surprised at the findings about how some children saw the world, perhaps because I didn't have the sort of upbringing that precluded evidence-based learning.

    The article doesn't seem very complimentary to the state of science education in the USA. I suppose that this is one of the reasons that so much effort is being expended in trying to rectify this aberration.

    By Blogger nullifidian, at 7:12 PM, May 19, 2007  

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