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Is Common Sense gone?

"Thinking" is becoming "Conspiratunistic".
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Since writing Modern Times Opportunities (and given certain subjects I end up covering), both family and friends have repeatedly voiced concerns as to why I keep putting my neck out there with seemingly contrarian opinions.

For me it’s simply an effort to re-learn debating different points of view and perhaps find new perspectives along the way. For you I hope that my topics help to re-ignite discussions which might have become almost impossible to raise with some.

Also, shining a different light during groupthink can make you stand out and even appear smarter in a room of otherwise intelligent people, independently of whether they share your views, or not.

The video above1 made me think how easily people nowadays tend to compare critical or contrarian thinking to how mainstream opinion pictures so-coined conspiracy theorists, thereby just putting the actual subjects in a box to close everyone’s minds, avoiding confrontation, debate, and thereby depriving us to collect our rewards in the form of learnings and the respect for each other that would naturally come with it.

Sure, there are many people who take risks in joining minorities (more often in private than in public though), however very few dare to stand all alone, potentially against all odds and all other “opinions”.

YET:

Only future history can tell the truth from lies and theories from reality. — Toby Ruckert

Given how many times (and for how many subjects) “the” experts were wrong and knowing that “mass” media firstly creates the content it gets paid for and researchers focus on science outcomes where major grants are available, wouldn’t it be sensible to dedicate more effort towards making common sense again more common?

It was once considered normal to naturally question everything we read and hear, including what I write of course. But looking at the recent (incredibly obvious but nicely colorful) manipulation of global weather maps, I can’t help but wonder how not more people feel inclined to question that narrative:

They’ve recalibrated the temperature scale bands to bring in 'red' at 20 degrees C. (20+ degrees isn't hot) You used to only see the red scale start at 40C. This is obvious manipulation to feed fear and panic. Covid fear porn has pivoted to Climate fear porn. I suppose this manipulation works on low IQ citizens. But it is counterproductive to attempt these manipulations on people that use their brains. Joseph Castillo, Economic Energy Forms

This two-year old video indicates that a change of public programming from Covid fears, lockdowns and mandates over to a rinse-and-repeat strategy utilizing “climate change” was already communicated to large media outlets and TV networks well ahead of time:

But don’t you dare question the reasons for climate change! If contrarian investments (e.g. the likes of Warren Buffet) are celebrated, why is contrarian thinking shunned in other areas?

When I wrote “The Con leaving a Trail”, some people got triggered merely by the subject, without even checking out a single link, footnote, reference or watching a video to understand basic context. How to reply or engage in conversation, if there is zero effort to even look at what someone is actually putting out there?

Such mediocracy goes deeply against my objective of aiming to fully realize our potential to the maximum as it shuts down our intellectual capabilities at the outset.

But it isn’t only the climate where people are losing their marbles. Also in politics, the state of debate and just the “in-principal acceptance” of meeting with certain people has become a no-go for some to merely witness — or as Lex Fridman writes:

I will speak with everyone, and I will get attacked, derided, and slandered for it.

But I believe in the power of long-form, empathetic conversation to help discover our common humanity, including the good and the evil we are all capable of.

I know I'm underqualified and underskilled for these conversations, so I'll often fall short, as I do in all aspects of my life, but I'll work hard to improve, and will never ever give in to cynicism.

Not to forget that our current ways of education in science and technology have brought about the biggest number of experts with the least understanding of a more general and holistic view of things.

Poster on the right side: TV Series “Fargo”.

To Err is Human, but not to Try is a Waste

This type of behavior isn’t new though. For almost 2,000 years — from the days of Aulus Cornelius Celsus (25 B.C.- 50 AD) to the middle of the 19th century, active physicians have been of the opinion that pain during surgery is unavoidable.

THE escape from pain in surgical operations is a chimera which it is idle to follow up to-day. ‘Knife’ and ‘pain’ in surgery are two words which are always inseparable in the minds of patients, and this necessary association must be conceded.” — Alfred Velpeau (1795-1867)

Yet within a decade after these hopeless words were written, their author, in common with all the surgeons of the civilized world, was proving that painless operative surgery was an established fact, and the way stood open to successes in surgery in all its branches, previously undreamed of, and to-day unexhausted.2

Velpeau (wearing a white apron) at an anatomical demonstration at the Paris Charité. Painting from 1864 by François-Nicolas-Augustin Feyen-Perrin. Source: Wikimedia commons.

There are many tragic predictions from history as collected by David Sable3 which as of today’s perspective seem quite incredible (selection):

  • What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives travelling twice as fast as stagecoaches? — The Quarterly Review, England (March 1825);

  • When the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it and no more be heard of. — Erasmus Wilson (1878) Professor at Oxford University;

  • Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value. — Editorial in the Boston Post (1865);

  • That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced. — Scientific American, Jan. 2, 1909;

  • Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. — Lord Kelvin, ca. 1895, British mathematician and physicist;

  • There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will. — Albert Einstein, 1932;

  • I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. — Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

Maybe that’s why (despite all the troubles associated with innovating) I like people who make an effort to keep looking at the world as full of potential and try to leave their mark by realizing some of it with their own gifts, hard work and talents.

Innovators are inevitably controversial. — Eva Le Gallienne

Contrarianism

If all say “no”, look ahead — ask “why not?”

When the world screams “yes”, step back and say — “wait.”

Conquering fear to welcome debate, accepting defeat to respect a new fate.

Rewards are in history, not in today’s phase, the memories fade with each new parade.

Opportunities rise when friction abounds, to birth new ideas from the grave and beyond.

This is the way of the Contrarian Mind.

(Unknown)

If you’re a management consultant, coach, advisor, mentor etc., contrarianism can be a way to also be more authentic (maybe you even owe it to your clients) and if you’re interested, the following video provides a much deeper analysis (NOTE: the original video “Being a Contrarian in Life — living authentically” was deleted from YouTube, so I’ve replaced it with a different one instead):


Lateral Thinking

The ability to think outside the box used to be a valuable trait. Many companies wanted to have at least one or two creative lateral thinkers in their ranks in order to leave well-trodden paths of thought. Because that's the only way to come up with completely new solutions. We all know the saying: If we keep doing what we did before, we will keep getting what we got before. It has nothing to do with innovation. Since we all have to think the same thing, lateral thinkers are frowned upon and placed in corners where they don't belong. As Karl Valentin aptly said: if everyone thinks the same thing, not much is thought.

In the last 3 years not much has been thought about, but a lot has been parroted. If you listen to the speeches of politicians and bought-in fellow-mouths on the subject of mandatory, you really notice how expertise has been replaced by vehemence and loudness. When asked about this, most of the protagonists react very reservedly today.

I'm not proud of my medical colleagues either. Thinking - at least that's my experience - has never been their forte. I remember my student days, which were mainly characterized by memorization. With this immense material, there was hardly any time to think for yourself. And after the course, what was learned by heart was applied. This shows that education and intelligence are not necessarily related by blood. For many people, thinking for themselves has not awakened to this day, and being assimilated works very well. Even the medical associations undertook to actively take action against doctors who thought differently. It was never about scientific discourse, but only about naked obedience. So much for "Follow the Science".

Dr. med. Michael Spitzbart

To me what today is called “lateral thinking”, “contrarianism”, “critical thinking” etc. — was once simply “common sense”. It may never have been that common in the first place, but at least there was a somewhat common sentiment and understanding of what “common sense” is (or could be).

Nowadays our societies don’t have such a common understanding any more4. To some “following the experts” and believing the scorching red weather map at 20° Celcius is common sense, to others it’s not.

So why does the world not make sense any more?

The diversity of opinions may have led us to democracy. But with the echo chambers of conditioning that are happening today, a debate with an underlying (common) moral compass and a sense of (common) common sense, rarely happens any more.

How could it come to that?

We’ve arranged a society on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces. I mean, who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it? — Carl Sagan

Then what’s next?

In many ways our current reality looks bleak for those who have a genuine interest in re-establishing some neutral ground for the idea of a common sense and a certain freedom around lateral thinking and voicing one’s concerns critically.5

It remains to be seen whether our human ideals and age-old ideas of enlightenment will manage to find a new renaissance, or whether they’ll continue to be legislated into oblivion.

What are you doing to regain your sense of what’s “common sense”?

Warmest regards,

Toby

1

Twitter Post by Dr. Aseem Malhotra — “How best to deal with mainstream media Hatchet jobs?

2

From The Atlantic Archives: A History of the Gift of Painless Surgery.

3

LinkedIn Newsletter by David Sable: “Challenge the status quo...it's all about the questions”.

5

The European Union’s Digital Services Act (DSA) comes with strict content moderation, censorship and “an unprecedented level of public oversight”, see e.g. Breitbart: EU Announces Stricter Content Moderation Rules for Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and Other Tech Platforms.

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Modern Times Opportunities
Modern Times Opportunities