Our Many Misunderstandings
of the World Around Us
A Review of
Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong
Hardback: Basic Books, 2017
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Reviewed by Alisa Williams
In an age where scientific information is readily at our fingertips, why do so many people resist or flat-out deny scientific explanations for everything from pasteurization and immunization to geology and genetics? This is the question Andrew Shtulman, a cognitive and developmental psychologist, seeks to answer in his book Scienceblind.
The quick answer is intuitive theories, our “untutored explanations for how the world works,” get in the way of reality (4). These intuitive theories are pervasive and indiscriminate – even scientists with years of study subconsciously resort to false intuitive theories when tested. This alone seems cause for alarm, but Shtulman offers hope. If we can understand why our minds insist on carving “up the world into entities and processes that do not actually exist” then we can also course correct our minds by dismantling those pesky intuitive theories so we can “rebuild them from their foundations” (5).