I often arrive at a debate with people on whether common sense exists or not. I believe it does not. Definitions of the concept I came across include “a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things, which is shared by nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly all people without any need for debate”. And here is where the problem starts… Basic ability??? What constitutes a ‘basic ability’ and according to whom is it ‘basic’? Second problem: ‘reasonably expected’… Again, reasonably according to whom? Expected? Don’t get me started on this one… Expectations and assumptions are the biggest trap in a personal or professional relationship. You enter into a relationship whether it’s a new job or a new friendship and you are carrying this huge luggage with you full of expectations and assumptions about this other company or person. And it’s great you have those. They become problematic because you keep them to yourself and never articulate them! The counterpart is not a mind reader… they end up being at the receiving end of what YOU expected of them that they didn’t even know about or never signed up for. The result is disappointment because your expectations are not met…

Another definition I came across was that common sense is “sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence; the ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions; sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts”. This simply doesn’t exist. What may be reasonable for me, may not be reasonable for you. If we are 10 people in a room, there are 10 different perceptions. As human beings we see what we WANT to see. Each one of us has a different reality of what is happening. There is no such think as an objective reality.

As Albert Einstein said, ‘common sense is the collection of prejudice acquired by the age of 18’. I couldn’t agree more with this statement; what I WOULD, however, change is the age. I would put it at a much earlier age.

So, common sense, is neither common, nor sense. If common sense existed, the whole world would not be at this financial and political mess it finds itself today, people would not be buying the things they can’t afford, we wouldn’t be smoking nor eating junk food. We all make decisions based on our experiences, and these differ from individual to individual. Our brains work in such a way that if the facts (what WE believe to be the facts) don’t fit our theory, we throw out the facts.

I openly invite anyone to provide me with evidence for the existence of common sense. I will close with a last example: During the last week I visited 3 different organizations, and I visited their WC/Bathroom. ALL of them had a sign on the toilet door, which said: “Do not forget to Flush the toilet”. Isn’t THIS ‘supposed’ to be common sense? I say, forget common sense and embrace unsound judgment!

 

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