Here's the heart of the "trickier, abstract stuff."  Stuff at the edges of human comprehension where different people often know the same thing in very different ways.  One way might be "better than" another; or it might be just different.  Usually, however, one way will make the knowledge useful in some situation while the other way will not (but may make it useful in a different situation).  Keys to understanding science, to using science, and to advancing science are hidden in these nooks and crannies of the human mind.


Who understands science?

Misunderstanding of science is even more widespread than generally recognized.  Consider that Richard Feynman found all of the authors of seventeen shelf-feet of K-12 science textbooks submitted to the California State Curriculum Commission "were teaching something they didn't understand  ... didn't know what the hell [they were] talking about, so it was a little bit wrong, always!"  The entire group of texts submitted were "UNIVERSALLY LOUSY!"  "Perpetual absurdity."  ("Judging Books by their Covers," in Surely, You're Joking, Mr. Feynman, Bantam Books, pp 262 - 276.)

This is simple science, not college-level high powered stuff.  The authors were highly educated, many holding academic positions.  But we can see from Feynman's accounts of their errors, they could not have been working scientists; they could not have been using those principles.

Percy C. Wason's famous (among cognitive psychologists) card selection puzzle can shine some light into the corners of the human mind struggling to understand something just a bit out of easy reach.  It shows a little of why science is so difficult, even when extremely simple.  And it speaks simply, but subtly, to the hypothesis that reality is only a mental construct with no existence "out there."

Seeing the cards . . .


It was in 1963 that Glen Canyon began to be filled with the waters of Powell Reservoir.
Some people saw something wrong with that act.

Some did not.