1901: Logical

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It's like I've always said--people just need more common sense. But not the kind of common sense that lets them figure out that they're being condescended to by someone who thinks they're stupid, because then I'll be in trouble.
Title text: It's like I've always said--people just need more common sense. But not the kind of common sense that lets them figure out that they're being condescended to by someone who thinks they're stupid, because then I'll be in trouble.


White Hat says that problems in society could be avoided if people relied on logic and science rather than feelings—but when Cueball presses him to back up his claim, White Hat insists that his claim must be true, because it just seems obvious (to White Hat), and what the opposition (which he dismissively refers to as "these idiots") believes is crap in his opinion. Since White Hat refers to all people in general and since he falls in the same trap as he complains about, using his feelings for his case instead of logic and science, White Hat's argument is both fallacious and hypocritical.

The title text is White Hat's opinion, where he states that he has always said that people just need more common sense. He then adds, but not the kind of common sense that lets them figure out that he is condescending (i.e. talking down to them) and basically thinks that they are stupid. If they did, they would probably realize that White Hat considers himself smarter than them, and likely feel insulted and take retribution. (At the same time, he may himself lack this form of "common sense," as Cueball's question could be seen as a veiled insult highlighting White Hat's hypocrisy.)

When people talk about "common sense", they often really mean "they should think like I do". Using a term like "common sense" as a proxy for one's personal point of view implies that everyone else should have the same point of view. This discredits the fact that each person has their own point of view, completely valid to their own mind, and any attempts to push someone else's idea of a "common sense" upon them usually feels like "being talked down to" because of the implicit "fact" that that person's point of view is "common" and makes "sense", and therefore they must be smarter than you if you don't agree with their "common sense".

Ironically, there is some inconclusive scientific evidence against White Hat's position. It is possible that effective rational thought depends on feelings and emotions as a preprocessing step. For example, people with damage to the ventromedial prefrontal cortex lose their ability to have gut reactions to decision options. In Antonio Damasio's research, they were unable to make good decisions in everyday life. This may be because every option seems emotionally as good as any other and the brain is not good at conscious processing of large numbers of alternatives. See Descartes' Error by Damasio (1994) and The Righteous Mind by Haidt (2012).


[White Hat is spreading his arms and facing Cueball.]
White Hat: We wouldn't have all these problems if people just learned to be more logical and science-driven instead of relying on feelings.
Cueball: Oh? What study are you basing that on?
White Hat: It just seems obvious!
White Hat: I mean, look at the crap these idiots believe!

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Potentially relevant: [1] Potentially relevant: [2] Potentially relevant: [3] Joshupetersen (talk) 16:00, 11 October 2017 (UTC)

-- Link 1 points to a 1952 paper which demonstrates that "scientists" live longer with the top 6 occupations being Educators, Lawyers, Engineers, Naturalists, Historians and Inventors ... seems a pretty loose definition of scientist to me. --Rtanenbaum (talk) 17:39, 11 October 2017 (UTC)

Added the title text to the explanation and transcript. --JayRulesXKCD what's up? 16:06, 11 October 2017 (UTC)

For the record I believe the advantages of using statistics over intuition were thoroughly discussed in the Michael Lewis book Moneyball, also 538 has done studies comparing statistical approaches to election prediction to political punditry and finally the good old Monty Hall Problem.Sturmovik (talk) 16:22, 11 October 2017 (UTC)

"... inconclusive scientific evidence against White Hat's position"? Is "inconclusive" the best you can do? Or did you mean "only inconclusive"? Randall is basically attempting to use an argument from silence against anyone asserting White Hat's basic position (for which there is some very good evidence). It's ironic that to argue against the position requires using the law of non-contradiction; hence is self refuting. 22:41, 11 October 2017 (UTC)

The joke isn't that rational decision-making is bad, it's that many of those who aggressively espouse the importance of rational decision-making and deride the influence of emotions are rarely as rational and logical in their decision-making as they like to think they are.
If nothing else, a truly rational thinker would realize that for better or worse people ARE affected by emotional cues and that as such subtly insulting those you're speaking to is not a good way to influence opinions and change decisions.
And a truly self-aware rational thinker would realize that the vehemence of his later complaints about how people are illogical and emotional might have less to do with the objective importance of rationality and more to do with his own feelings being hurt because his opinions were ignored or derided.
But surely that doesn't apply to anybody here and any sensation of defensiveness that might occur comes from a place of pure logic and reason, right? 15:42, 17 October 2017 (UTC)

This comic is probably a response to the Nobel prize in economics awarded to Richard Thaler for finding ways to nudge people to decisions that the nudger believes to be more common sense.-- 09:23, 12 October 2017 (UTC)

The problem with generalizations is that all of them are idiotic.-- 12:14, 12 October 2017 (UTC)

... including the one you just used :-). -- Hkmaly (talk) 00:49, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
*Whoosh!* 11:55, 13 October 2017 (UTC)
*Whoosh!* 03:00, 20 March 2020 (UTC)
f Nafedalbi (talk) 12:43, 6 May 2022 (UTC)Nafedalbi