In Folk Science, Michael Shermer explains why our intuitions about how the world works are often wrong:
Folk astronomy, for example, told us that the world is flat, celestial bodies revolve around the earth, and the planets are wandering gods who determine our future. Folk biology intuited an élan vital flowing through all living things, which in their functional design were believed to have been created ex nihilo by an intelligent designer. Folk psychology compelled us to search for the homunculus in the brain — a ghost in the machine — a mind somehow disconnected from the brain. Folk economics caused us to disdain excessive wealth, label usury a sin and mistrust the invisible hand of the market.
The reason folk science so often gets it wrong is that we evolved in an environment radically different from the one in which we now live. Our senses are geared for perceiving objects of middling size — between, say, ants and mountains — not bacteria, molecules and atoms on one end of the scale and stars and galaxies on the other end. We live a scant three score and 10 years, far too short a time to witness evolution, continental drift or long-term environmental changes.
Causal inference in folk science is equally untrustworthy. We correctly surmise designed objects, such as stone tools, to be the product of an intelligent designer and thus naturally assume that all functional objects, such as eyes, must have also been intelligently designed. Lacking a cogent theory of how neural activity gives rise to consciousness, we imagine mental spirits floating within our heads. We lived in small bands of roaming hunter-gatherers that accumulated little wealth and had no experience of free markets and economic growth.