Common Sense: A Complicated Concept

To hail a taxi, you don't think before waving your arm out to grab its attention. We do this not because it's a law or rule, but because it's just common sense. Yet when it comes to what dictates common sense—or the concept of something everyone is supposed to know—there is no cut-and-dry set of rules. What you might not know, however, is that common sense really has nothing to do with sense, nor is it common. Researchers believe that common sense is rather created from our personal experiences, social context, culture and everyday life. What may seem obvious today is likely to be refuted by science tomorrow. So is a person who seems to lack common knowledge dumb? It would seem the not-so-common-sense answer is no.

Still, can it be argued that it takes intelligence to demonstrate sound judgement? Where is the overlap between book knowledge, life experience, social norms and history—and how does that influence what we consider common? This playlist dives deep into the mind as it uncovers how intelligence tests, common sense and personal beliefs don't always tell the whole story.

Written by Curiosity Staff July 7, 2014

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