Common Sense Isn’t Science

I am reading an interesting book about Business Management, and I found out a chapter which took my full attention, and I decided to share some words of it with you, especially if you are a business manager. Analyze it, and enjoy it!

There are two common ways of knowing.

1. Authority. 

We believe something is true because an authority says it is. We look to an encyclopedia, TV, newspapers, and to prominent people or experts. Our appeal to authority for answers begins in childhood when we look to our parents for the truth.

2. Agreement.

We can ask several people and if they all come up with the same answer, we usually feel comfortable that we know something. We can look to different sources that all agree such as written and verbal reports.

3. Personal Experience.

We do things that work for us. If they work consistently, we think we know how they work.

4. Science

Einstein said, “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking.” While that sounds pretty simple, the catch is in the word refinement. The refinements involve the precise specification of the problem investigated, experimentation analysis, and replication of the results. Scientific knowing leads to more effective explanations and to the simplest explanation that allows for effective action.

The first three ways of knowing – authority, agreement, and personal experience – fall into what we call Common Sense ways of knowing. They are all subject to considerable error. Authorities have often proven to be wrong. The authorities knew that Galileo was wrong when he proposed a heliocentric theory of the universe. The authorities were sure for centuries that the universe was geocentric. Rioting mobs are often wrong. Although there is usually 100 per cent agreement among the group members at the time.

As much as we might hate to admit it, our experience often teaches us things that are wrong. Although scientific knowing is superior to common sense knowing, most of us use common sense as the basis for most of our knowledge. A look at the following chart will tell you why.

Chart design created by Deyvis Brenes

As you can see from the chart, common-sense solutions only require living. Scientific understanding requires systematic effort. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Experience is a dear school and fools will learn in no other”.

It would be great if experience always taught us the right things, but many people today agree with George Bernard Shaw wrote many years ago:

“Modern science has taught us that nothing that is obvious is true.”

This was a fragment of chapter three of the book of Aubrey C. Daniels & James E. Daniels

Performance Management
Changing Behavior That Drives Organizational Effectiveness
Fourth Edition.

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