Ryan D. Tweney is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Bowling Green State University. He currently lives and works in Beatty, Nevada, on the edge of Death Valley National Park. Following his B.A. at the University of Chicago and his Ph.D. at Wayne State University, he did research in psycholinguistics, then turned to research on the cognitive underpinnings of scientific thinking. Using a variety of field and laboratory methods, he contributed to understanding of the role of confirmation and disconfirmation heuristics in science. Using cognitive-historical methods (including replications), Tweney conducted many studies of the diaries and laboratory methods of the English physicist Michael Faraday. In the early years of the 2000s, he conducted experimental research on the cognitive foundations of religious beliefs. At present, he is working on cognitive models of mathematical physics, centering on James Clerk Maxwell and the “intuitive” mathematics used by Faraday. Tweney’s research has many implications for science teaching, and he is currently writing about some of these. He is the editor of 6 books and the author of over 120 published papers. He is a Founding Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, a member of the Psychonomic Society, and a member of societies in the history of science, cognitive science, and psychology.
My current interests in evolution center on the relation between statistical ideas (population, distribution, changes in central tendency across time, etc.) and the teaching of evolution. Historically, Darwin’s ideas emerged at a time when statistical accounts of the “accumulation of small effects” (as in Adam Smith’s economic theory) were gaining traction. For educators, one challenge is to insure the understanding of the relevant statistical concepts, along with the biological claims made by Darwinian and post-Darwinian accounts of evolution. In part, this project is a reflection of my ongoing interests in understanding the uses of mathematics in science; in this case, the use of statistical mathematics to represent changes in species and species characteristics across time.
R.D. Tweney (2011). Toward a cognitive understanding of science and religion. In Roger Taylor & Michel Ferrari (Eds.), Epistemology and science education: Understanding the evolution vs. intelligent design controversy, pp. 197-212. New York: Routledge.
R.D. Tweney (2011). Representing the electromagnetic field: How Maxwell's mathematics empowered Faraday's field theory. Science & Education, 20 (7-8), 687-700.
M.A. Upal, L. O. Gonce, R.D. Tweney, & D.J. Slone (2007). Contextualizing counterintuitiveness: How context affects comprehension and memorability of counterintuitive concepts. Cognitive Science, 31 (3), 415-439.