Watts (2011) essentially argues that there is no such thing as common sense. Wha? Really? You mean all of those teachers and my parents have been lying to me my whole life? It doesn’t exist??
That’s correct. It doesn’t exist. Common sense is an illusion, according to Watts. We confuse societal norms and judgments regularly with the notion of common sense. The author posits that en masse, we use the concept of common sense to project onto others what we think they should be doing according to our value systems. Watts’ view of common sense is that it is more of a body of knowledge (e.g., the engineering discipline, medicine, science, etc.) rather than a vehicle for what we humans think other humans should have been born with in terms of skill sets to make judgment calls in individual life settings.
From a parenting standpoint, while reading this book I was reminded that children are not born with “skillz” and it is our job as parents and educators to give them the skills they need to live happy and productive lives. [Notice I put happy before productive…yes…one feeds the other; not the other way around.] This revelation has been a bit of a shocker for Greg, however, he has learned to how teach our children instead of reprimand them for the “common sense” that they do not possess because (duh) they weren’t BORN with those skills.
Everything is Obvious is a great read and a paradigm breaker. I took the book in small doses as I felt compelled to let the resulting thoughts stand for a little while so I could synthesize what the author was saying. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in expanding their view of the world and the humans that inhabit it.
Watts, D. (2011). Everything is obvious: How common sense fails us. New York: Crown Publishing Group.