Everything is Obvious (once you know the answer): Book Review


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.


6 thoughts on “Everything is Obvious (once you know the answer): Book Review

  1. Pingback: Just like AA: Sick and tired of being sick and tired | Dharma Goddess: The Journey to Me

  2. Ack. Common sense. Two words which make me shudder even to this day. If I had a pound for every time I heard those words fall from the lips of my Dad, I could solve world hunger. They were the bane of my early years. “You’re a clever lad, but you’ve got no common sense”, he’d say. As I got older and my hormones arrived (hello Unbridled Anger, my new teenage friend) this phrase used to make me apoplectic. “THERE’S NO SUCH DAMN THING!” I yelled back. “How can anyone be BORN with what you call “common sense”?”.

    And now, all these years later? Someone wrote a damned book on it, and it wasn’t me. Another boat I missed… 😉

  3. I like it! If common sense existed then wouldn’t we live in a different world? I like your point that we are taught sense, or skills, as we grow up. And what a perfect title! It is very obvious to me how not to tune my violin. That’s what happens when you break a string. I was just thinking, now why didn’t i know that? LOL!

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