Trees, Fish, and Other Fictions

John D. Coley and Tara M. Muratore

in Evolution Challenges

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730421
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949557 | DOI:
Trees, Fish, and Other Fictions

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In this chapter it is argued that the difficulty in understanding evolution by natural selection does not stem solely from the complexity of the theory. Rather, the difficulty in teaching, learning, and understanding evolutionary biology can be traced to a clash between the basic tenets of evolutionary theory and the basic architecture of the cognitive systems used to understand the world in general, and the biological world in particular. Evidence from cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and cognitive anthropology is presented that shows that people naturally develop a sophisticated conceptual system, or folk biology, that allows us to intuitively categorize, reason about, and understand the biological world. These same intuitive ways of understanding the biological world may be largely responsible for the difficulty in teaching, learning and understanding evolution

Keywords: cognitive architecture; cognitive systems; folk biology; categorization; teaching evolution; understanding evolution

Chapter.  11299 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Developmental Psychology

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