How Lay Cognition Constrains Scientific Cognition

Philosophy Compass 10 (11):785-798 (2015)
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Scientific cognition is a hard-won achievement, both from a historical point of view and a developmental point of view. Here, I review seven facets of lay cognition that run counter to, and often impede, scientific cognition: incompatible folk theories, missing ontologies, tolerance for shallow explanations, tolerance for contradictory explanations, privileging explanation over empirical data, privileging testimony over empirical data, and misconceiving the nature of science itself. Most of these facets have been investigated independent of the others, and I propose directions for future research that might integrate them so as to explore potential commonalities among seemingly disparate obstacles to science learning, as well as potential strategies for bridging lay cognition and scientific cognition in the context of science education.



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