TED Conversations

Deep Thakur

This conversation is closed.

Common sense is not so common. Why?

How come some people get it and others don't? Based on my experience you can't learn it at school.

Share:
  • thumb
    Jul 19 2012: Because we educate it out of people.
  • Jul 19 2012: A lot of people here have said that common sense isn't common, and defined what common sense is. I must say that I strongly disagree. Hate to get technical here, but I hate when people use the wrong term to talk about something like this. You guys don't seem to realize that common sense is the average amount of intelligence and skill at problem-solving and thinking within the population. Hence, common sense. What you guys define common sense as you should define good sense as. Good sense is positive thinking and choices. We think of this as common sense because we are raised to think that good is what we want to work towards. If nobody has common sense, then common sense doesn't exist! I like the idea of talking about the absence of good sense in the general population, and the cause, but use the correct terminology.
    The real question should be "Why has the value of common sense decreased?"
    • thumb
      Jul 19 2012: Agreed. Common sense is by definition common. But I don't know if I'd restate it as "Why has the value of common sense decreased?" so much as "Why don't we value common sense?" I hardly think that people are, on average, stupider than they used to be; the collective knowledge of society is constantly increasing. But I do think that we pay less attention than we should to this body of common sense than is innate within us and those around us. I think that valuing common sense is a matter of listening to the simple, instinctive impulses that often get drowned out by the complexities of society.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: "Common" sense derives from common experiences. The more diverse we are in our experiences, the less "common" our perspectives.

    Beyond this, "common sense" is often a label for the biases a person or group holds that they only mistake for universal truths.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: I think the world is rampant with bogus memes that people unwittingly adopt. E.G. Multitasking, Socialism, it is our right, Keynesian economics, etc etc

    These fetter away individual integrity and the ability to observe what is in front of you.
    • Jul 24 2012: Too many lies, half-truths, & inadequate education. We end up second-guessing too often. A second second-guesses himself, and his guess is foreign to us; we have no idea of what planet they're from. They may make actual sense, but our values don't let us see it.
  • Jul 19 2012: Paul: common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts." If it was up to me, I would label this subject "uncommon sense" or like you put it good sense. You are right in that some of these things are derived from our experiences, upbringing and such. But not all. Case in point, sometimes I find myself wondering if my parents don't get it either. I don't want to get hung up on terminology as much as the subject matter.
    • thumb
      Jul 22 2012: I think it is partially because we have no real commonly agreed upon definition.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: Howdy Deep
    No its not as common as it use to be. Common sense is the ablity to look at a problem and solve it with logic to think it through finding out what will or won't work seeing the problems before they arise. I believe that its decline is due in part to the lazy and the computer the lazy go to the computer and look it up and if it doesn't have the answer then it can't be fixed and that's about the size of it. There are still a few that can sit down and think things out and we are geting becomeing fewer as the days pass. I would say that your examples to me would be more along the lines of common curtasy which also is not as common as it once was.
  • Jul 18 2012: Common sense examples:
    - if you see someone walking in a building with their hands full of grocery, hold the door pen for them.
    - if it is raining outside let pedestrians cross the road. You are in a car and will not get wet.
    - if you are driving, do not use your hands for things other than driving. (no texting, putting makeup, eating and drinking)
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: Hi Deep.
    You are right; common sense is in short supply these days. When we introduced the Euro a few years ago, most folk were flabbergasted. How could such a diverse set of nations operate under a common currency. Things got worse when very poor countries started to be included. Anyone who balances their own budget could see it. It wasn't going to work. Why did anyone think it would? Bankers think that money is made by shuffling it from A to B & then back to A again. that theory has hit the buffers too. Money is made by adding value; ie producing something tangible. A few years ago our local hospital got a new dark room for the x-ray dept. It had a bay window ?
    Why is this happening ? It's like an epidemic, we all have horror stories.
    It used to be that if you wanted a top job, you started at the bottom. Mr. Honda started in a shed, & when in charge of a multinational he took his shift, along with his executives, cleaning out the washroom. He knew his business & could probably have stood in for any of his workers if he had to. His designers are allowed time to make weird & wonderful dream machines just for fun. They are motivated. He knows his business.
    Many of our companies today are run by people who fly in for a lucrative 5-year stint. They cause havoc, because they don't know their business. They will have some sort of business degree. They hire underlings with similar qualifications but no hands-on experience. The foot soldiers get frustrated at the foolishness of the dictats, & lose heart as they see profits going west. They can see the common sense solutions, but have no way of climbing the ladder. The company/country goes bust, & the CEO flies off to his/her next engagement.
    No easy fix as governments are stuck in the same mire.

    :-)
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: what i feel is common sense is not inherited;it can only be learned through experience,surveillance.
    experience can be self or it can be of your peer network who can just guide you about the right and wrong.
    surveillance when you undergo a situation where you watch an other person going through it.
  • thumb
    Jul 18 2012: The definition of 'common sense' and one's view of 'who has common sense' may be subjective.
    But some things are clear: the world is diverse, the world of knowledge is diverse, and knowledge is not exclusive to a person or a group; neither is there a way of dividing the world to two groups of those who have common sense and those who do not.
  • Jul 17 2012: Good point Stewart. I suppose we can talk about levels of common sense. Level-1 would be survival instincts like don't touch fire, don't walk in to traffic etc.. Next level could be things that one does that may or may not make sense to others like don't stop at the entrance of a busy store or office and cha on phone. Things that are not survival type issues but more of our actions and behaviors. That is more of what I am thinking about. I will try to jot down some more examples in the next few days to clarify.
  • thumb
    Jul 17 2012: Depends on the limits of common sense you're talking about. Say for instance everyone knows not to touch fire, but say in a more specific area in Australia say, the people know not to swim in a certain area and then a tourist swims there and dies and they're left thinking "It's common sense not to swim there!" This kind of common sense I'd denote to a subjective basis, i.e you had to experience or be told it before you knew it. This could also be used for the fire example now that I think about it. But how you're brought up would definitely affect your common sense.
    If you mean on a more moral side, it can also be attributed to upbringing and mental state etc etc.
    What sort of common sense are you talking about?