Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Starting at square one -- Part 2

Yesterday I took note of a review article in Science called "Childhood Origins of Adult Resistance to Science," by Yale psychologists Paul Bloom and Deena Skolnick Weisberg. Bloom, by the way, is the author of the exceedingly interesting book Descartes Baby. (I will have more to say about this book in the future.)

In addition to the "naive physics" and "naive psychology" of children, the authors offer another reason for adult resistance to science: the authority that people ascribe to sources of information.

Certain invisible entities are believed in explicitly, in the absence of personal evidence, because they are "common knowledge." Examples are germs and electricity. There is no conflict of authority. Other things are believed on the perceived superior authority of parents, teachers, church leaders, scientists, etc. Examples include the origin of human beings, the existence of ghosts, or the effectiveness of an unorthodox medical treatment. When authorities come into conflict, it is only natural that people will conform with those who lives are more intimately connected with their own. For example, the factor that most overwhelmingly determines a person's religious beliefs is the accident of birth.

It is in this regard that an Institute of Creation Research and an International Journal of Creation Research are important. They attach a phony imprimatur of science to what is not at all scientific, buttressing the authority of parents, teachers or co-religionists.