The Corpus Callosum

I am
on call today, so I am about to go in to the hospital for a full day of
work.  But while drinking my coffee I encountered an article
that I need to get back to.  Maybe some of you could take a
look at it too, if you have subscriber or academic access to Science.

Origins of Adult Resistance to Science

Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg
Science 18 May 2007:
Vol. 316. no. 5827, pp. 996 – 997
DOI: 10.1126/science.1133398

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.

Department of Psychology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.

Being ever so cynical, it occurs to me that such findings could be used
intentionally to foster a disbelief in rational thought in general, and
to science in particular.


  1. #1 MarkH
    May 28, 2007

    Man, I’ll have to blog about this.

  2. #2 Greg P
    May 28, 2007

    Hmm. Well maybe, but it’s more complicated, I think.

    I recall from taking psychology years ago that one of the studies done which impressed me quite a bit was one in which it was shown that the memory of information that we are given outlasts our sense of the reliability of the source of that information. In other words, we are likely to recall something as being true once we forget that it came from an unreliable source.

    I always took this as one of the bases of the power of propaganda — if you keep telling lies over and over, people begin to think they are true.

  3. #3 Dunc
    May 28, 2007

    Greg: I recently saw a study (no cite handy, sorry) that indicated that when judging the validity of a piece of information, people don’t acurrately distinguish bewteen hearing the same info repeatedly from multiple independant sources and hearing it reapetedly from the same source.

  4. #4 EnzotheGreyhound
    May 28, 2007

    If I were an executive at HP, Intel, et al. I would be exremely interested in where these non-scientific societies flourished. “Note to self, build chip plant elsewhere”.

  5. #5 Irony
    May 31, 2007

    “a study (no cite handy, sorry) that indicated that when judging the validity of a piece of information”


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