Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science
Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg
Science 316: 996-997, 2007 (18 May)
(excerpts for discussion)
"Here we review evidence from developmental psychology suggesting that some resistance to scientific ideas is a human universal ... even 1-year olds possess a rich understand of both the physical world ("a naive physics") and the social world ("a naive psychology") ... The problem with teaching science to children is thus "not what the student lacks, but what the student has ... alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding the phenomena covered by the theories we are trying to teach" (S. Carey, J. Appl. Dev. Psychol. 21, 2000).
The examples so far concern people's common-sense understanding of the physical world, but their intuitive psychology also contributes to their resistance to science ... children naturally see the world in terms of design and purpose ... dualism, the belief that the mind is fundamentally different from the brain, comes naturally to children ...
Adults ... rely on the trustworthiness of the source when deciding which asserted claims to believe. Do children do the same? Recent studies suggest that they do ...
These developmental data suggest that resistance to science will arise in children when scientific claims clash with early emerging, intuitive explanations. This resistance will persist through adulthood if the scientific claims are contested within a society, and it will be especially strong if there is a nonscientific alternative that is rooted in common sense and championed by people who are thought of as reliable and trustworthy."