Crossing a cognitive chasm . . .
Apparently, roughly 10% of humans still believe that the Earth is larger than the Sun. Do they believe this because they haven’t been properly educated? Possibly. Do they believe this because they’re stupid? Probably not.
In fact, the most likely explanation is that the individuals concerned just haven’t thought that much about it. The Earth looks big; the Sun looks like a small disc in the sky; ergo, the Sun is smaller than the Earth.
The individuals are relying on what Andrea diSessa (1988) would call a phenomenological primitive or p-prim: “These are simple abstractions from common experiences that are taken as relatively primitive in the sense that they generally need no explanation; they simply happen.”
What is a p-prim (phenomenological primitive)?
A p-prim is a pattern of thought that is applied across a range of contexts. For example, the “Ohm’s Law” p-prim…
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