Just the facts, man… The persistence of misconceptions

Derek Muller writes (and explains in more detail than I’m presenting here): “It is a common view that ‘if only someone could break this down and explain it clearly enough, more people would understand.’ However it is debatable whether clear, concise explanations really work…. People have existing ideas about real world phenomena before they encounter scientific explanations.” Muller gives this example. Australians were asked “How long does it take the earth to go around the sun?” This video shows some of their opinions:

(HT Jennifer Ouellette)

Some years ago, at Harvard’s commencement, graduating students were asked to explain what causes the seasons. This video shows some of their explanations:

RELATED (in a slightly twisty, yet direct way): Some people are mistaken about mistakes

BONUS [lengthy, and only tangentially related]: Sgt. Joe Friday, famous for the (if not his) suggestion “Just the facts, ma’am”, engages in tenacious pursuit of some facts:

BONUS: “How to humble a wing nut” [HT Jess Zimmerman]