Folkbiology: The Importance of How People Understand Nature

  • Serrelli E
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Abstract

Review of The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature, by Scott Atran and Douglas Medin. Cambridge, Massachussets: The MIT Press, 2008. Although this is a long review, I only cover perhaps two thirds of the contents of The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature, and very briefly indeed. As the press release informs us, this book draws on two decades of research and contains a huge yield of data, analyses, research protocols, and theoretical background. Folkbiology is the interdisciplinary perspective on how people ordinarily understand the biological world (Medin and Atran 1999). In The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature, we appreciate how far the implications of this field can go. In this overview, I choose a geographical approach: we fly from Guatemala, to Wisconsin, then to the Middle East. We then land in university classes and end up in school classrooms. This tour gives me a minimum basis for a tentative critical summary of the book. In the tour, I include not only findings but also research methods that I hope will be stimulating for readers of this journal.

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Serrelli, E. (2011). Folkbiology: The Importance of How People Understand Nature. Evolution: Education and Outreach, 4(1), 158–167. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12052-010-0245-x

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