Dan Vergano in USA Today:
“Scientists, educators and policymakers have long been concerned about American adults’ resistance to certain scientific ideas,” note Yale psychologists Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg in the review published in the current Science magazine. In 2005 for example, the Pew Trust found that 42% of poll respondents think people and animals have existed in their present form since the beginning of time, a view that is tough to reconcile with evidence from fossils. Many people believe in ghosts, fairies and astrology. “This resistance to science has important social implications because a scientifically ignorant public is unprepared to evaluate policies about global warming, vaccination, genetically modified organisms, stem cell research, and cloning,” the psychologists say.
In the last three decades, studies of children show that they quickly pick up an intuitive understanding of how the world works, say the researchers. For example, babies know that objects fall and are real and solid (even though physics experiments show they are mostly made of atoms containing empty space.) “These intuitions give children a head start when it comes to understanding and learning about objects and people. However, they also sometimes clash with scientific discoveries about the nature of the world, making certain scientific facts difficult to learn,” the review says.