Monday, November 7, 2011

Truth of the world: Common sense is uncommon after all!

I'm reading this book and I think it's damn good.

Read this paragraph and tell me you're not getting a light bulb moment.

"People who lack common sense are a bit like the hapless robot in that they never seem to understand what it is that they should be paying attention to, and they never seem to understand what it is that they don't understand.  And for exactly the same reason that programming robots is hard, it's surprisingly hard to explain to someone lacking in common sense what it is that they're doing wrong.  You can take them back through various examples of when they said or did the wrong thing, and perhaps they'll be able to avoid making exactly those errors again.  But as soon as anything is different, they're effectively back to square one.  We had a few cadets like that at the academy: otherwise perfectly intelligent, competent people who just couldn't seem to figure out how to play the game.  Everyone knew who they were, and everyone could see that they just didn't get it.  But because it wasn't exactly clear what it was that they didn't get, we were unable to help them.  Bewildered and overwhelmed, most of them eventually left."

I'll show you the book when I'm done but seriously, reading this is like a BIG 'OH I SEE' moment.

And just awhile back, I had a conversation with a dear friend in London.  I told her that it's getting more and more apparent to me that in life, there's no right or wrong.  We always have a comeback line to justify whatever decision we make.  We're always contradicting ourselves like that one fine day in Smythson on Bond - one notebook says, The best things come to those who wait while another points out, Make it happen.  I not only have trouble deciding which colour to get, now I have an internal debate who am I really so that I do not pick the wrong title that will misrepresent me.  And then, came this moment when I read from the very same book:

"The same difficulty of reconciling what, individually, appear to be self-evident beliefs shows up even more clearly in the aphorisms that we invoke to make sense of the world.  As sociologists are fond of pointing out, many of these aphorisms appear to be direct contradictions of each other.  Birds of a feather flock together, but opposites attract.  Absence indeed makes the heart grow fonder, but out of sight is out of mind.  Look before you leap, but he who hesitates is lost.  Of course, it is not necessarily the case that these beliefs are contradictory - because we invoke different aphorisms in different circumstances.  But because we never specify the conditions under which one aphorism applies versus another, we have no way of describing what it is that we really think of why we think it.  Common sense, in other words, is not so much a worldview as a grab bag of logically inconsistent, often contradictory beliefs, each of which seems right at the time but carries no guarantee of being right any other time."

I don't know if this interest you as much but it's Pandora box to me.  Suddenly everything is crystal clear.  We use common sense (in this case, usually communicated via an aphorism) in situations where our hearts or minds have already made the decision.  These aphorism is only a way to communicate to others to reaffirm what we have already pre-decided whether we know it or not.  For example a girl who dates a guy who's completely opposite of her.  And they broke up, and she tells her friends, "Okay, you know... we're like from two different worlds".  Same girl, goes out with another guy who's still completely opposite of her.  They hit off and live a fairy tale life, and she tells her friends, "We're so different... I guess it's true when they say opposite attracts.  We completely balance each other out".  You must be thinking... what a fickle minded person - her justification is non-justification.  But if you truly think about it... It's not that she's lying to herself nor giving excuses for being together with one person and not the other.  To me, understanding how this whole common sense works and its relation with aphorisms, tell me that her subconscious has already decided who she liked more.  Truth is, she didn't like the first guy as much as she liked the second one.  There's no bad, no good.  Just as it is.  It's amazing how I finally realize that common sense is the unexplainable intuition (which is an oxymoron by the way because you can never explain intuition anyway) that helps people listen to the small truth in their mind.  The decision that's driven by emotions (perhaps?) explains why it's... unexplainable.  Communicating this common sense is just a way to crystallize that feeling into an action.  Wow.  I.  Never.  Thought.  Of.  That.

I'm sorry maybe it doesn't intrigue you guys as much but I suppose it doesn't just help me to understand people even better now, it helps me to understand what's going in me better now (remember what we said before? The best researcher is the best guinea pig).  And it helps me to be able to deal with situations better now (well it should).  And most most most most most importantly...  I finally realized that I'm not a robot.  Between 10101010s, I have something called intuition and robots cannot be preprogrammed to achieve that kind of God-given intelligence that we, human have :) (sorry, internal joke...).

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