Talk:Naïve physics

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Centrifugal Force does not belong on this list[edit]

Well meaning but confused science teachers tell their students that the centrifugal force is a fictional force, as if it were some kind of psychological effect. This is not true. The centrifugal force is an inertial force, meaning that it is a frame-dependent force that arises from the body's own inertia. It's true that the centrifugal force is not fundamental like gravity, but neither is friction or rope tension. Centrifugal force is every bit as real as other forces in the frame that it appears. A machine such as a spring scale can measure the centrifugal force independent of any human psychology. The centrifugal force can also be derived mathematically without any gimmicks or approximations by transforming Newton's law into a spinning reference frame. (talk) 15:59, 4 April 2013 (UTC)


It is surprising that "tool-making" ability is not listed. And just when thought that it was only humans, monkeys, etc; the crow bent a wire for food; making any modern-day attempt to define folk physics bunk. Just as referenced by the example of a flat earth.

Is this the same as intuitive physics? I think that Stephen Pinker prefers that term in his popularisations of evolutionary psychology. Analogous are intuitive engineering, intuitive biology, intuitive economics -- Alan Peakall 17:29 9 Jul 2003 (UTC)

The article stub as-is certainly gives that impression. I have encountered the term in a different setting, though, in a late-70s or so artificial intelligence article by Patrick Hayes called the Naïve Physics Manifesto.
Here is a link:
I also think that folk something-or-other is a synonym for intuitive something-or-other, as in folk psychology, a term often used in cognitive science. -- Are Sørli 18:01, 6 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Exactly what is this page about? "Naive" is a word generally regarded as unfavorable in learned circles; to use it in regard to the work of Newton and Feynman et al. produces a strong impression that somebody has an ax to grind. There could be such a thing as naive physics in reality: the ideas of physics that people hold intuitively (or anyway it looks like intuition). What makes this page most remarkably silly to an outsider is that its first example is a crucial and famous rejection of the naive physics of Aristotle. But I don't mean to slight Newton, the second example, in his major piece of counter-intuitive work, which apparently is naive because he couldn't afford a spectrophotometer. Dandrake 21:37, May 9, 2004 (UTC)

Well, after two months, if no one can defend that list of "simple models" that is in fact a list of highly sophisticated (though now in part obsolete) physics, then I'll just delete it. For theories that turned out to be too simple to last until now (when we know everything and nothing we say will in the future be found too simple), there's always Obsolete scientific theories (to which I'll make a pointer), not that it doesn't have its own problems. Dandrake 00:06, Jul 14, 2004 (UTC)

No one having defended them, I removed the examples of obsolete or deliberately simplified physical models as used by incredibly non-naive physicists, and put in a list of actual folk physical ideas. I don't understand how the old list fit into either folk physics or the AI study referred to.

I'd like to put in a modern example: the Stanford fans' version of The Play of some years ago, in which a football was passed to the side (the rules forbidding a forward pass), and the play was ruled valid; but the forward motion of the passer actually caused the ball to be moving downfield (say the Stanfordians), and the play should have been called back. But the above shows that one can't state it clearly without too much verbosity.

We need more on the AI work which tries to codify common-sense knowledge. Dandrake 06:12, Aug 16, 2004 (UTC)

Would it be okay to add the widespread idea that the earths rotation causes gravity?

Citation Needed?!?[edit]

"A dropped object falls straight down.[citation needed]" Citation needed? CITATION NEEDED?!? WHY in the world would a citation be needed here? And who or what should we cite? It is silly things like this that make Wikipedia unrespected in academia. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 20:42, 9 February 2007 (UTC).

I'm confused about that one, too. Is someone looking for proof that people think this, or proof that it isn't true? As none of these other list items have been tagged, I'm just going to remove that one.

Zadeez 04:09, 17 February 2007 (UTC)

"Two events are simultaneous or they are not."[edit]

I'm a bit confused as to why "Two events are simultaneous or they are not. " is listed here. Isn't this an example of the tautology "A or NOT A" and therefore inherently true? Sgt. Muffles 01:36, 10 April 2007 (UTC)

Simultaneity is not well defined once things are moving at the speed of light. Or something... it can depend on your frame of reference, and something seen as simultaneous by someone at point A might not be seen as simultaneous by someone at point B, yet neither party is right or wrong. --Kirkjerk 18:02, 13 April 2007 (UTC)
Tautologies run into trouble when the predicates involved are not well-defined, or when boundaries are fuzzy, or when they blend fictional and non-fictional domains, and on and on. Simultaneity is not well-defined in special relativity. There has to be a reference to an inertial frame (no matter what speed you're moving at).

Which means it's not the person who thinks something is either simultaneous or not who is wrong, it's the person who thinks simultaniety means anything on its own, making it more of a naive semantics than a naive physics. ˜˜˜ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:46, 4 January 2008 (UTC)

"A coin will hit the ground before a feather when both are dropped at the same time from the same height."[edit]

Errr... this is true, unless you're ignoring air resistance and terminal velocity and all that good stuff! --Kirkjerk 18:04, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

I'd agree that that entry is worded rather poorly. There needs to be some sort of categorical certainty in the statement to make it properly false, for example, "A coin will always hit the ground...". Possibly, a better example would be "When two objects are dropped from the same height, the heavier object will always hit the ground first". Reveilled 12:01, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I would have thought that one is the other way round (the first thing you get taught in highschool physics is that the coin and the feather fall at the same speed, even though it's blatantly untrue...). I suppose that's more "just-enough-knowledge-to-be-dangerous physics" rather than "naive physics" though. FiggyBee 01:43, 1 September 2007 (UTC)


"The ideas of absolute motion and absolute simultaneity survived until 1905"

Err - absolute motion was disposed of by Newton, way before 1905. (talk) 01:08, 28 July 2008 (UTC)