It is extremely important to the exclusion of other methods
It is very valuable and more important than other methods
It is no more valuable than other methods of data synthesis (such as science)
It is less valuable than other methods
It is of little to no value
When thinking about common sense you need to analyze it at different levels of society.
"Common sense" is formed by your own experiences (the individual level), your family and friends (the community level), and the society at large (the education system, national interests, laws, etc.)
I find that common sense at the societal level is often informed by laws, and not really by logical or ethical understandings per se. On the community level, there things that are shared as common sense between most communities but there are differences too. For instance, in some communities people who are struggling are expected to pick themselves up, but in other communities it's expected that the community shares the burden. In both communities, their ways of doing things are "common sense". It's in the culture.
The individual levels of common sense are the most irrational and I find it's where the most conflict takes place. Each person's individual experience is true to them and so their common sense is informed, but it doesn't translate to another individual's experience necessarily. The conflicts that take place at this level are mostly over ego attachments to an individual's way of perceiving things and they aren't as willing to shift from that way of thinking. On the flip side, a lot of people just assume that everyone else shares their view of common sense, because the very words "common sense" imply that we all should know it and live by it.
Then of course, there is the aspect where people are aware of their own common sense but choose to willfully ignore it for whatever reason.
The Scientific Method Today
Somewhere in the website the author explains that scientific methodology includes personal observations.
Data can lie or mislead, especially when variables are not known or can never be known.
A couple examples: Social programs that work on paper, fail when implemented because the vital variable... human nature is eliminated. Here it would be far better to use common sense and say, this scheme will fail based on the fact these programs are used and abused throughout the world. Regardless of culture.
Of course, you could argue the fact the programs are failing to live up to anything close to their promises is data to support "common sense".
Another is an argument about autobahns. What I call the greatest stretch of gas guzzling roadway in the world. Now, I didn't know the breakdown of autobahn with and without limits I had no idea, but having driven from Stettin to Nordhorn, Flensburg to Freilassing, Stuttgart to Passau and everywhere in between, I know you can gun it. 150km/h is a comfortable speed, and I've been up to 270km/h... legally... early one summer morning when the roads were pretty empty.
Now Wikipedia has the breakdown of 25% with speed limits, 25 without, and the remainder with suggested limits. Someone looking at the data can come to the false conclusion that German roadways are restrictive in speed. Wrong conclusion, as the long stretches between metropolitan areas are the roads with few to no limits. Further, the suggested limits are just that; suggested. They are not commandments.
The country has a suggested speed limit of 130km/h, but... as noted in wiki, According to a 1995 study, the average speed traveled on German autobahns was 134 km/h (83mp/h). That means the recommended speed was exceeded on average!
Someone living in Germany need only apply common sense gained through experience to know the autobahn is a great place to test the finest of German and Italian engineering, and without fear of breaking the law.
For the person looking at the data only, they could draw (and have drawn) wholly false conclusions.
Of course, the hallmark of a good scientist, researcher, or anything for that matter is absolute honesty.
Last edited by zimmer; 06-24-10 at 04:37 PM.
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