Created By: Frank75 on January 16, 2013 Last Edited By: Arivne on March 21, 2014

Common Sense

Many people think they know what it is, but can't really explain it. Let's change that!

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An explanation first: Apparently this is the old name for the Simple-Minded Wisdom trope, but the page is still there - and almost empty.

We shouldn't leave it like that. Now I had the idea to turn it into a Useful Note. What do you think about this?

This would make a good page quote:
"Common sense (which, in truth, very uncommon) is the best sense I know of: abide by it, it will counsel you best. Read and hear, for your amusement, ingenious systems, nice questions subtilly agitated, with all the refinements that warm imaginations suggest; but consider them only as exercitations for the mind, and turn always to settle with common sense." (Letters to His Son, letter 52)
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • January 16, 2013
    Another idea for a page quote:

    "If it's called the 'common' sense, why is it so rare?"
  • January 16, 2013
    Common sense is basically just what somone considers (rightly or wrongly) to be self apparent to the point where they get annoyed when it's not so for other people (the real reason, perhaps, why it isn't so common).

    I don't think it's really a trope or that there's anything to put in a useful notes. Unless this is about the concept itself being brought up in fiction?
  • January 17, 2013
    "Common Sense is what tells you the Earth is flat."
    --Bertrand Russell (or one of several other quotable notables)
  • January 17, 2013
    • In Friendship Is Magic, this form of wisdom in the domain of Applejack, the apple farmer, and especially of her older brother, Big Macintosh. Both prefer a grounded, straightforward approach to problems... but Applejack's pride sometimes gets in the way of her better judgment. Contrast with her friends, who all heave their special flavor of sense-sensibility: Rarity's "politeness", Twilight's "education", Fluttershy's "ethics", Rainbow Dash's "way she rolls", and Pinkie-Pie's outright "non-sense" (which is a very acute sense occasionally, in a zen-like fashion).
    • In Batman Begins, we have an amusing subversion; the villains are raided by Batman, and what they do about is, what anyone would do when a creepy stalker breaks into their premises; they call the police. This is the right thing for these criminals to do because the police is corrupt and at their service.
    • In Harry Potter And The Methods Of Rationality, when Harry discovers the secret of the Chamber, it takes him many tries to defy The Call tropes and come up with the sensible solution: to do nothing about it. Which he then amends to "to tell the Deputy Headmistress". This is quite a feat from someone whose speciality is un-common sense and unpredictable but sound lateral thinking.
    • In Sherlock, the protagonist is very intelligent and skilled, and can even be The Social Expert on occasion, but he completely and utterly lacks any kind of common sense.
    • Luminosity is essentially Twilight on oodles and oodles of common sense. At first, the changes are subtle, but they build up to be rather dramatic later on.
  • January 19, 2013
    ^^^ Agreed for the most part (and I'm guilty of invoking the phrase myself sometimes)--often it serves as a red flag that an arguer can't, or doesn't want to, reason through their position (not that their position is necessarily not reasonable--just that they can't do it, or don't feel like Showing Their Work, or may not like where their reasoning may also lead if it's logically consistent).
  • January 19, 2013
    Can't remember where it was, but
    "Common sense is knowing not to put a tomato in your underwear before riding a bike. Therefore, I have no common sense."

    The quote is longer, these are the relevant parts.
  • January 19, 2013
    Also, having Common sense is averted often by those with Laborious Laziness syndrome, and abides with the Rule Of Cool. Awesome But Impractical things may be by-products of someone with little.

    See also Captain Obvious, for when someone points out what should be common sense, e.g. this scene from the same place as the quote above:
    "Don't forget to put underwear on!"
    (Walks in with underwear over trousers) "Like I'd forget, it's just common sense."
    "Well, genius, what would be putting them on underneath your trousers?"
    Many things may seem like common sense so much that when outright stated, the person becomes a Captain Obvious, yet it needed be said because the addressee has little common sense.

    I think the whole thing was just Lampshading the lack of common sense, to be honest.
  • January 19, 2013
    A quality completely lacking in Darwin Award candidates.
  • March 5, 2013
    Bump. This story, "The Death of Common Sense" (there are several versions on the 'net) definitely belongs on the page.
  • March 5, 2013
    Bump again.

    I see my old post there, and I can't believe it's me who wrote it. Especially the MLP part, that was just brilliantly synthetic.

    This trope is strongly tied to Stating The Simple Solution and No Nonsense Nemesis. One common way to avert it is to have Complexity Addiction, or otherwise act Too Clever By Half (like the aforementioned Sherlock). Another is to lose oneself in abstraction and ivory towers. The Evil Overlord List attempts to inject Common Sense and avert those tropes by having a six year old check the brilliant plans for any glaring flows (in Real Life, a more serious variation of this is considered standard procedure in Operations Research and other planning and decision-making efforts: to show the final draft of a plan to someone who was not involved in conceiving it in any way, so that they may spot anything the creators may have missed while immersed in being clever and creative).
  • March 5, 2013
    So should the page be a "definition only with no examples" page, or a page that lists only subversions and play-withs?

    Because listing every example of someone using common sense properly would be a people sit on chairs page.
  • March 5, 2013
    In fiction? I should not think so... How many demonstrations of common sense can you count in One Piece?
  • March 5, 2013
    ^ Comedy is pretty much based on characters going against common sense so listing all the cases would be meaningless. Like ACarlssin said, we should probably limit it to subversions and play-withs (+ examples that actually address the use/lack of use of common sense).
  • March 5, 2013
    A proposal to explain common sense should at least attempt to actually explain it. A page quote is not an explanation.

    Common sense is one of those things which people can usually recognize, but not describe. Proposing to describe it is easy, actually doing so is difficult, so it's better not to propose it unless you actually know how you intend to follow through.
  • March 5, 2013
    As always, if you have problems trying to find a simple definition for a term, you can start with the one given by The Other Wiki.
  • March 5, 2013
    ^^^Drama and tragedy too, BTW (and One Piece happens to do both, often at the same time)

    A Tragic Hero that is unable to overcome their flaw even for the sake of self-preservation is having a common-sense failure. The Tragic Mistake is usually one of those too. Same goes for each and every instance of the Idiot Ball.
  • March 20, 2014
  • March 20, 2014
    You know why common sense is rare in fiction? Cuz we won't have a fiction any other way.

    Imagination starts by breaking common sense, anyway.

    See Rule Of Index and Artistic License.

    Compare Normal People.
  • March 21, 2014
    Why not just expand Common Knowledge?