Common sense isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Recently an idiot who believes white supremacist propaganda and that there is a “white genocide” in South Africa, accused me of not being a skeptic, presumably because I don’t believe in the bullshit he believes in. First of all, it annoys the shit out of me when every skeptic has to be accused of not being a skeptic because we don’t share every moron’s mistrust of mainstream media. Disbelieving neutral media because you really want propaganda to be true since it suits your idiotic racist agenda does not make you a skeptic. (It makes you an idiot and a racist arsehole who uses confirmation bias to “confirm” that your racist views are acceptable. They aren’t.) Anyway, my skepticism is a work in progress, and I am not a scientist, or professional skeptic (whatever that is). I do however pride myself on my attempts to be a critical thinker, and the number one rule for me as far as skepticism goes is not to believe anything for which there is no evidence, or for which the evidence produced by claimants, is dodgy.

I started off in life relying on common sense. But I have learned over the years that common sense is relative. For example…

  • Common sense tells us that the earth is flat, because it looks flat. (Honestly that’s what the flat earth arguments come down to.) The curvature is slight and imperceptible to anyone on the surface… Imagine a speck of dust on a soccer ball, and then multiply the scale thousands of times because that doesn’t really do justice to how slight the curvature is. Then imagine ignoring thousands of years of knowledge to come to the conclusion that the planet is flat. Given the right conditions and ignorance, common sense states this obvious falsehood to be true.
  • Common sense tells us that it is impossible for heavy objects, like passenger airlines, to fly.
  • To anyone brought up with religion since before they were knee high, common sense tells them that god exists, and that this is obvious.

The latter is the best example in my mind. I have debated enough theists to recognize an indoctrinated mind… Someone to whom it is obvious that their god exists. And to whom it is also obvious that the universe could not possibly just exist – it must have been created. Ask them where this god came from, and they insist the god does not need a creator, that god was always there. And they cannot see the irony. (Of course this is an example of the special pleading logical fallacy.) The truth is, god is just a placeholder for the unknown, one that by definition was always there. It moved the problem (where did we come from?) to a placeholder that they are conditioned by indoctrination not to even consider questioning. There is no logical reason for this other than “by definition”. So they asserted that everything needs a creator, but god doesn’t, because reasons. We can just as well insist that the universe doesn’t need a creator in the same way. And thus no god is necessary.

But try explaining that to someone who is indoctrinated… There is almost no chance of getting though to them, because their “common sense” tells them their god is real. They consider this as fact before anything else, and will ignore anything that contradicts it.

So in a nutshell, common sense is nothing more than bias. It is what we accept as fact, right or wrong, and allows us to continue believing what we already believe. And once something gets into our little common sense “box” in the brain, most of us will never take it out. Most of us probably have decent common sense in general, based on what we learned throughout our lives. But mixed in there is a bunch of bullshit that we assume to be true. So I say, “Throw out your common sense”. Question everything and accept only that which evidence proves to be true.

One thought on “Common sense isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  1. Interesting blog post, Jerome!

    But I’d like to add another perepective.

    Many woo (and religious) believers seem to be a kind of solipsists. Their solipsism leads to subjective realism, i.e. their subjective truths tend to turn to objective truths in their mind. .

    So such persons hold the view that whar they (happen to) believe and/or feel must be the only true way to believe or feel. Which leads to the conclusion thar other people are (must be) wrong if their views differ from those of the solipsist.

    My working hypothesis says that persons prone to magical thinking a.k.a. emotional thinking (i.e. the way children thinks and reasons, please google if you want to know more) often become totally certain that their (subjective) truths must be the only true ones. (Remember the old adage “Only idiots are dead sure”.)

    Common sense – or let’s rather call it intuitive thinking – belongs to (at least has its roots in) the realm of magical thinking since it’s very seldom associated with logics. Have a look at these two links:

    1) https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201107/common-sense-is-neither-common-nor-sense .

    2) https://www.edge.org/conversation/daniel_kahneman-the-marvels-and-the-flaws-of-intuitive-thinking-edge-master-class-2011 .

    Like

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