Field Note #72. On "Illusion of Explanatory Depth"

Source: Leonid Rozenblit & Frank Keil, "The Misunderstood Limits of Folk Science: An Illusion of Explanatory Depth" in Cogn. Sci. (2002)

The Main Ideas.

  1. We are uniquely overconfident when it comes to explanatory knowledge (knowledge that involves complicated causal links even in areas where complexity is minimized)
  2. Some causes for this particular overconfidence include assuming that understanding higher level structure necessarily extends to subcomponents and lack of opportunities to test one's explanatory accuracy.
  3. Writing and debate help with the second cause, perhaps I hold both in high regard.
  4. It's important not to dismiss heuristics; the illusion of explanatory depth is problematic when using heuristics carelessly or failing to understand that a heuristic is being used to begin with (e.g., the map != territory).

The Details.

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