The Tyranny of Common Sense | Street Jazz

The Tyranny of Common Sense



Common sense isn't. - Solomon Short (David Gerrold)

I was talking wit someone the other day, who was extolling the virtues of Common Sense. Or rather, I was talked at by this person, who was having none of anything that I had to say. The subject?

Common Sense.

There is a school of thought - and I use that term in the loosest possible way - that common sense trumps all education, formal or otherwise, and that a man or woman with good old fashioned “front porch common sense” can see right through a problem much quicker than an “expert” loaded down with years of higher learning.

That way, as Shakespeare once wrote, lies madness.

It’s easy to understand why people feel this way, I think.  In the workplace, we have often seen the Peter Principle at work - "In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence." God knows I’ve proven that one on more than one occasion.

That many  such employees may have some higher education just proves to some that education may be the problem - hence the dark mutterings of those who sneer at “educated idiots.” For many, the belief is that common sene will always triumph over education.

So, really, why bother with all that edumacation stuff anyway?

I think that there are two kinds of common sense. The first kind, the most valuable, is the sort derived from a lifetime of experience - both formal education, and everything that one has learned in life. This is real, and we should respect it.

The other is the dangerous kind. This is the individual who believes that human beings are born with an innate common sense, that sort of “front porch common sense” that is praised and valued by those stoking paranoid fears against pointy-headed intellectuals.

If this belief were true, we would would all be justified in seeking out three-year-olds as Life Coaches.


Quote of the Day

"Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That's our problem.":Howard Zinn,   from 'Failure to Quit'

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