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Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong
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Scienceblind: Why Our Intuitive Theories About the World Are So Often Wrong

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  356 ratings  ·  40 reviews
"A fascinating, empathetic book" -- Wall Street Journal

Humans are born to create theories about the world -- unfortunately, we're usually wrong and bad theories keep us from understanding science as it really is

Why do we catch colds? What causes seasons to change? And if you fire a bullet from a gun and drop one from your hand, which bullet hits the ground first? In a pi
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 25th 2017 by Basic Books
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Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anyone who relies on intuitive deduction (and there’s a lot about intuitive theories in this book), will instantly surmise that I am related to the author, Andrew Shtulman. That much is true: Andrew and I are cousins (although Andrew might argue that all humankind is composed of cousins, even if it’s thirty times removed). What is also true is that even if we weren’t, I would still 5-star this book because it’s thought-provoking, intelligently written, fascinating in parts, and also carries an i ...more
Will Ansbacher
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: politics, society, science
Bookblind: Why are my Theories about the World between the Covers so Often Wrong?

“Still, resistance to science in today’s age – an age flush with scientific information and science education – requires explanation. Many ... point to ideology as an explanation,” writes Andrew Shtulman in his introduction, “Others point to misinformation, as when vaccines were falsely linked to autism ...” YES!, I thought, this is the book we all need to read; god knows we need to raise the level of scientific
Danny Strickland
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. It was clear and cogent, entertaining and enlightening. The content is deep, and the writing is lucid. It's a guiding light in our troubled times of science denial.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Interesting, informative, eloquent. A must-read for anyone who values science.
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book skillfully accomplishes two goals: it shows us how we misunderstand several scientific topics and it shows us the right way to think about those topics. Highly recommended for anyone interested in psychology in particular or science in general.
Sam Benson
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
There were parts of this that I really liked, and on the whole, it’s fascinating stuff. Sometimes it got a little cringy (e.g. there was an example that felt pretty fat shame-y and another that seemed to simplify and equate gender to chromosomal sex). And he got a bit self righteous with his “science is the only way to know the big T truth” thing. I just found it a bit heavy handed at times and think he didn’t really acknowledge other types of truly valuable knowledge that intuition or tradition ...more
Mar 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, lib-kcls
My summary: in the absence of learned knowledge, human intuition is an adaptation that helps us make sense of the world (a fundamentally flawed sense). Even when we are privy to the evidence-based models, we fall back to our (incorrect) intuitive models of reality when under stress. These are formed during our developmental years, and are merely suppressed, not erased, as we age. We use these in everyday reasoning, subconsciously, even if we think we know better.

As someone with little (read: no)
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science

A well-researched, interesting book, but it fails to live up to its thesis and praise. The author simply doesn't concentrate enough on adults and why they "deny science in the teeth of overwhelming evidence," as one reviewer puts it on the back of the book. There is too much emphasis on what children believe, especially with regard to concepts they clearly outgrow. For example, the book's aim is not furthered by giving page after page (with diagrams) explaining that small children believe that t

Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmmm. Maybe it’s just the way Barry Abrams read the audiobook but it all comes across as high and mighty, science is everything preaching. Shtulman cites numerous studies, including his own, as he warbles on about how silly our intuition is and how important the scientific method is. He makes some fine points yet I feel that I could have just jumped right to the conclusion for the gist of the whole thing. Not a complete waste of time and certainly not the best book I’ve read this week.

Three sta
Dan Graser
Jul 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, I probably would have given this book 5 stars regardless since this is a topic I've wanted explored in great depth for a long time. Frequently, in the works of great writers on science such as Pinker, Dawkins, Dennett, Tyson, and Krauss, you are briefly told that many of their concepts will seem non-intuitive due to certain features of our brains and development that make grasping such in-depth scientific notions quite difficult. However, there really hasn't been a full exploration ...more
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Very good book on how our intuitions about physics and biology get in the way of actually understanding real physics and real biology. It spends a lot of time on our concepts that we develop as children and assume without a good science education and goes a long way in explaining the public misunderstandings which go beyond mere political or religious ideology. Don't get me wrong politics and religion are major culprits in our misunderstandings of science but these misunderstandings are easily e ...more
Nigel Senton
Mar 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: unfinished, 2018
It’s hard to rate I kept getting it confused with the authors legibility if he was using connotations or a contronyms examples so the book title kept going to blind science or science blind which I guess is the point of a thesis or Socrates teaching of trail for not keeping records of knowledge questions or being any psychologist thought of conservative thinking. I really thought the author put to much on addressing intuitive knowledge when he was wanting to give more introspective knowledge. Wh ...more
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is about research done to uncover how we understand the world before formal instruction, and how those ideas tend to persist (causing a lot of problems). Most of the research centers around children, but as an adult, I still recognize how a few of these still trip me up. There are some examples though that I am convinced are just the result of poor questionnaires, polling, or the American Education System, because there's no 'psychological' reason for that category of ignorance. As an ...more
Shane Orr
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd never really thought about why our gut instincts on the way things work in this world are often wrong. But when you consider how many hundreds of years (in many cases) it took scientists and thinkers to arrive at currently accepted answers, it makes sense. If the accepted science was intuitive, it would have been obvious even to them. This book covers theories of the physical and biological world and talks about not only what the common misconceptions are, but what types of teaching or tools ...more
Roo Phillips
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
A helpful guide to showing that we all see the world through imperfect lenses. These filters are constructed by our biases, intuition, childhood instruction, natural selection, etc. Schtulman starts of strong, with insightful examples as to why we very naturally and understandably view parts of our world incorrectly. For example, watch this (short) video of a feather and bowling ball fall at the same rate in a vacuum...

How does it make you feel? Our intui
Jack Wolfe
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Occasionally I read a science book! This one's good. It doesn't do the "social media science" thing, blaming people and insulting people for their inability to grasp complex scientific theories. Shtulman's view is much more decent and much more scientific: he describes intuitive theories that are embedded in humans at birth, theories that are very difficult to get rid of, even after years of careful instruction. Each chapter takes a look at a different phenomenon-- the first half is about the ph ...more
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
When I first picked up this book, I didn’t expect there would be so much emphasis on what children believe and the misconceptions about science that children have. I was a science teacher for 35 years and I am probably more aware of children’s misconceptions about science than most, so much of this was not news to me. I did learn some interesting things from the section dealing with physics, “Intuitive Theories of the Physical World” (my background is in Biology and Chemistry) but I didn’t learn ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
A very accessible and cogent look at how we develop theories of the world, and why they are really hard to change - even when we learn and know about science that contradicts them.

Shtulman gives lots of research examples that are trying to uncover mental models in physics, biology, chemistry. He also spends some time writing about how our everyday analogies reflect or maybe dictate the models - something I really got into when I was in school.

There's also some side-by insight here that we might
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazon, true, science
(I apparently took a hiatus from the end of October until early December. Time to get back to it…)
This book was totally different than what I expected. Chapters 1 through 10 seemed more like an introduction to the actual meat of the argument/book, and chapter 12 gave the best discussion of evolution that I have ever seen thus far. In the conclusion of the book, the "science blindness" was actually pointed out from the beginning, but some of the assumed conclusions from the first part really need
Phil Scrivano
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for every elementary multi subject teacher!

Science and math are the least taught well subjects in elementary school. This one book gives educators the background knowledge and instruction to master these subjects in the classroom. For years there has been emphasis on the need to teach "hands-on" science and math without explaining to the teacher the "why" this is important. As a former sixth grade educator, I recommend this book for college credential programs and every teacher who c
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has interesting content, and did raise a lot of questions about my own biases toward the world. The writing is mundane and deteriorated over the course of the book. Beginning had more interesting topics on common misconceptions, lots of examples and logical arguments. Last few chapters seemed stitched together to pad volume. I guess this mirrors readers’ fatigue over time too. Still worth reading especially if you are a superstitious person that always have a saying for everything. But ...more
anna b
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Mind opening book about various scientific topics and how as adults, we have conceptual blindness to them. A great part of the book also tells how children rationalise scientific definitions within themselves (without schooling) and how their thought process is different from adults, how they associate their intuition to their observations of the world around them. Good read.
Sean Holland
Oct 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
A better title would be "Conversations With Stupid Children."

This book has nothing to do with the tagline, and is rather about child psychology. If you're all about listening to vapid conversations with the barely-coherent, then this is the book for you.

Children have all the intelligence and sentience of a houseplant.

This book is physically painful to sit through.
Stephen Douglas Rowland
May 28, 2017 rated it did not like it
Boring, incredibly dry, with its thesis proven in the first two chapters then mercilessly repeated for 200 more pages.
Tamara Dahling
Sep 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting book about the assumptions we carry from our childhood science lessons into adulthood and how often those assumptions are incomplete or just plain wrong. Very eye opening!
Ryan Wyatt
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, mind, society
A must read for science educators!
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-science
The book is for total nerds and I enjoyed it. There are so many things we take for granted.

Super science book.
Tai Tai
Nov 20, 2017 rated it liked it
should have been titled: "How Children Think about Science"
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
Interesting book but it is mainly focused on children. The author try to link the assumptions and misconceptions developed in childhood are then carried over in adulthood.
Katharine Rudzitis
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly detailed breakdown of some flaws in our understanding (even for adults). Got caught by surprise when I recognized myself making similar mistakes!
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