Commonsense v. Careful Analysis

Commonsense is no match for careful analysis. If someone has analysed something carefully, someone else’s commonsense rejection of their analysis is worth nothing.

But don’t be fooled by an argument that purports to be a careful analysis, but which is actually a rationalization of a pre-existing position, or an invented justification of a vested interest. If you suspect that, don’t try to fight it with commonsense – careful analysis is what you need.

I’m not knocking commonsense. It has a place. Humankind possesses it because it’s damn useful, and evolution has honed it well for us. But its place is when a quick decision is required, possibly only a preliminary one until you’ve had time to do the careful analysis. Of course it’s also fine when the issue at stake isn’t terribly important anyway, and careful analysis would be a waste of time.

Evolution has also honed our ability to perform careful analysis. Use it!

Evolution has of course also honed our ability to rationalize and invent justifications – and lie. Ho hum.

And our ability to spot when someone is doing those things. That’s better!

Not forgetting our ability to spot when we’re doing them ourselves; it’s not always done deliberately. Or someone else may draw our attention to it, correctly or incorrectly. This is potentially an infinite regression of self-doubt – try to be honest with yourself, but don’t get lost in such a hall of mirrors!

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