... Scientific American's treatment of Bjorn Lomborg (see Defending science and The litany and the heretic, both from The Economist), will not be surprised at this dim-witted piece: Folk Science.
Ptolemy may have been wrong, but he was hardly a "folk scientist." And I would submit that ancient astronomers did quite a creditable job given their lack of instruments. "Folk astronomy, for example, told us that the world is flat," the piece asserts. Now when would that have been exactly? On my vacation I read a volume of ancient Greek poems. I remember one - dating several hundred years B.C. - that referred to the Earth's globe. I also remember that at the very beginning of the Summa Theologiae Aquinas bases an argument on the roundness of the Earth. Eratosthenes (third century B.C.) accurately calculated the size of our planet and Aristarchus (same time) advanced a heliocentric theory. Astronomers in ancient India postulated such a theory even earlier.
Then there's the inevitable evolutionary explanation. Only that explanation doesn't explain Aristarchus or Eratosthenes - and doesn't address the actual problems born of observation that led Ptolemy to devise his system. Instead, we have an assertion - in this case one with little or no factual data to back it up - and then an evolutionary fairy tale to explain it. As for how we get from Ptolemy to intercessory prayer is anybody's guess. The folk science here is Michael Schermer's.