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Appeals To Common Sense


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A lot of people, even around these parts, like to appeal to common sense when evaluating the world around us. How valuable a tool is this? In some cases, it can help cut through the chaos and can be a useful shortcut. I argue, it can also be quite misleading. Our brains are not equipped to accurately assess reality without the use of tools. Those tools include rules of logic, scientific theories, collaboration amongst other brains and more. Without these, we are no different from your common ape, which is capable of escaping predictors, procreating and generally surviving, but which can't build the Golden Gate Bridge or program a computer. I'd argue that when we appeal to common sense, oftentimes, we're merely appealing to that lower self, which can do some things, but which limits a higher understanding of the world as it shirks those higher tools, which are needed to more accurately assess reality.

 

Dennett here gets into this idea in much more detail:

 

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Thanks Vigile. Sounds real interesting! Going to watch this later. I'll be back to comment......

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An example of common sense. A little boy during lunch at school eats his cookie in the shape of a handgun. No crime has been committed. The little boy didn't bring a gun to school. The cookie did not become a deadly weapon when it was eaten into the shape of a gun, it became a partially eaten cookie that kind of sort of looked like a gun.

 

An example of educated fools that have no common sense. The principal that expelled the little boy from school because the school has a zero tolerance policy.

 

Common sense may very well not be the solution to major world problems, but it once could be depended on to handle the small stuff. Apparently common sense isn't all that common anymore.

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An example of common sense. A little boy during lunch at school eats his cookie in the shape of a handgun. No crime has been committed. The little boy didn't bring a gun to school. The cookie did not become a deadly weapon when it was eaten into the shape of a gun, it became a partially eaten cookie that kind of sort of looked like a gun.

An example of educated fools that have no common sense. The principal that expelled the little boy from school because the school has a zero tolerance policy.

Common sense may very well not be the solution to major world problems, but it once could be depended on to handle the small stuff. Apparently common sense isn't all that common anymore.

I agree with all that. I wouldn't blame education for the principal ' stupidity though.

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Think of the theory of evolution. Common sense might tell you that an eye had to be intelligently designed. It takes tools and deeper knowledge to know why that's wildly wrong.

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Think of the theory of evolution. Common sense might tell you that an eye had to be intelligently designed. It takes tools and deeper knowledge to know why that's wildly wrong.

 

I think it was Dawkins that did a nice explanation on the evolution of the eye from a somewhat simple photosensitive organ that only detected light and dark  into the human eye, as the need arose for more specific functions in order to stay alive.

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Common sense tells me that the cosmos revolves around the earth and that the moon is as big as it looks.

 

Doesn't give me any clues about the sort of cheese that the moon is made out of, though...

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