TA100 (Smith)



Response 1 (to <1> in C2 by Stanley Krippner and to <1> and <2> in C3 by Fred Abraham)




by Roulette Wm Smith

28 December 2007, posted 5 January 2008




I am extraordinarily grateful for your thoughtful and insightful comments regarding definitions of common sense (also see [20, 21, 57, 58, 83, 84, 88, 89, 90] in TA100).  Geneticist, biology textbook author and science journalist Ricki A. Lewis shares your concerns.  She specifically recommended that a definition of common sense should appear early in TA100 (Ricki Lewis, personal communications).  My decision to ignore Lewis’ advice was based on Ausabel’s notion of “advanced organizers.”  I simply did not want to create unfulfilling expectations once I realized that aberrations in common sense possibly could lead to ambiguities and changes in any definitions.  In the end, this decision proved to be correct.




Needless to say, I struggled mightily to provide a useful and accurate definition for common sense.  Initially, I defined common sense as “core nurturance within a herd, group and/or culture” (see [89] in TA100).  I reported this definition in San Francisco at a 2007 SF Tesla Society Meeting, in 2006 in Baden-Baden, Germany at the 18th International Conference on Systems Research, Informatics and Cybernetics (InterSymp 2006), and earlier this year in Puerto Rico at the 2007 Winter Chaos (Snowflake) Conference.  This definition is: concise; succinct; reflects the importance of development, nurturance, culture and group differences; and, captures roles of both ‘common knowledge’ and underlying ‘common cognitive processes’ (including question-asking, question-answering, help seeking, teaching, caring, and decision-making; see [89, 90] in TA100).  Moreover, each of the terms for common sense in Table 1 is consistent with this definition.




My research teaches me that the term “common sense” applies to ‘populations’ (i.e., groups, herds, etc.) and ‘individuals’ within those populations.  When confronted with the disorders in common sense in Germany earlier this year (i.e., 2007), and when recalling my 1985 experiences with aberrant common sense in elementary school students in Sunnyvale, CA, it became critically important to understand aberrations in common sense.  I began constructing Table 2 after the 4th International Conference on Humanistic and Transpersonal Psychologies and Psychotherapies (see attached .pdf file for the most recent revisions to Tables 1, 2 and 3).  Table 2 cites definitions and expressions for aberrations in common sense from dictionaries, scholars and laypersons – including bartenders, taxi drivers and the woman or man on the street.  [NB: Bartenders were canvassed because they often have first-hand experiences involving dynamic changes in common sense when their clients are under the influence of alcohol and other addictive substances.]




Although neither Table 1 nor 2 is complete, several findings are emerging from my effort to construct Table 2.  Many informants and other persons struggled to find mild, kind, neutral and non-offensive ways of describing persons with disorders in common sense. In the end, almost all persons expressed some exasperation and ultimately resorted to curses, unflattering terms and other references to mental deficiencies (e.g., small brain, dumb, fool, idiot, stupid, half a loaf, crazy, etc. consistent with my notion of “functional strokes” [91, 92] in TA100) when describing their personal experiences with persons who they perceived to have disorders in common sense.  Indeed, Poet Neill Edwards and I were challenged to find a neutral and non-offensive alternative to the word “stupid.”  Our softened term was “inappropriate” (see [84] and Footnotes {45. 46, 59} in TA100).  Whether our action represents ‘experimenter bias’ remains to be elucidated. These findings have two important implications.  First, any definition of common sense must consider both appropriate and inappropriate behaviors and decision processes.  Second, operational and functional definitions of common sense must take into account extreme outliers associated with significant inappropriateness in disorders of common sense.




Table 3 is updated to reflect a recent overnight visit with Propositi “D” and “E”.  Because of the chaos encountered in the German household,  I accepted the opportunity to be an overnight guest in Proposita “D’s” home.  Although I have known her since 1971, I never had an opportunity to observe her in situ.  The chaos in her household immediately was evident thereby providing further support for the value of in situ observations.  My overnight visit also provided evidence of severe psychosocial dysfunctions which often are inapparent during short and fleeting encounters.  Thus, health and caring professionals may need to find ways to engage their clients in some level of in situ observations to fully appreciate the exasperating aspects of disorders of common sense.




These observations teach that common sense comprises “core nurturance within a group, herd and/or culture, although most, if not all, decision-making processes must be appropriate within the context of that group, herd and/or culture, and no(!) decision-making processes should be inappropriate within the context of that group, herd and/or culture.”  Clearly, operational and functional challenges are to assess appropriateness and inappropriateness.  This is a reason I propose to discuss the economics of chaos and aberrant common sense at the forthcoming 2008 Winter Chaos (Snowflake) Conference (also see [80, 82, 96, 103] in TA100).  Because disorders in common sense often involve extreme outliers when compared to well-circumscribed errors which can occur in common sense, simple analysis of variance (ANOVA) procedures may be inadequate in assessing extreme outliers.  Economics employs important tools that may find value in this application.  These tools include a Pareto-like Principle, Gini coefficients and indices, Theil entropic measures and several novel syntropic measures (cf. Footnote {18} and [80] in TA100).  The Pareto principle (also known as the ‘80-20 rule’, the ‘law of the vital few’ and the ‘principle of factor sparsity’) states that, for many events, 80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes.  In the case of a proposed Pareto-like Principle for common sense, the, say, ≤20% of persons with disorders in common sense in a population cause and consume, say, ≥80% of attention, chaos, derision, services and resources.  Although these numbers are arbitrary at this time, the underlying message is clear; chaos and aberrations in common sense are extremely costly !  This is the crux of concerns about the economics of chaos and aberrant common sense in unknowingly needy and worried well.  Gini coefficients and indices should assist in assessing extreme outliers.  Novel syntropic measures and indices would be consistent with common sense, whereas flat or low syntropic findings would be consistent with disorders in common sense.




Under the above definition for common sense, disorders in common sense consist of one or more inappropriate behaviors and decision-making strategies (in the context of the group, herd and/or culture) derived from inadequate or inappropriate development, nurturance, and/or situational trauma.  These disorders in common sense may lead to mild to severe psychopathic and sociopathic behaviors, stress-related physical symptoms, and chaos for others.  Horrendous crimes also may be consequences of disorders in common sense.  Because laws and crimes are based on group, herd or cultural norms, I am unable to think of any crime which would not be considered a disorder in common sense.  Even the notion of “just war” may represent an inappropriate attempt to change common sense in a population by individuals within that population or by outsiders.




One should note that the proposed definition in [6] differs subtly, though importantly, from a working definition proposed by Krippner.  Krippner’s notion of “functional for the individual as well as for his/her social group” does not adequately deal with possibilities that what an individual perceives to be functional may not be acceptable within the population.  An individual may perceive that “my way or the highway” is functional (see [46, 61, 64, 69, 84, 104], Table 3 page 64, and Footnote {45} in TA 100), whereas the population regards such behaviors as inane.  The population also may not know of an individual’s dysfuntionalities – thereby providing a priori and default presumptions of common sense.  Krippner also raises the issue of biological predispositions.  This precisely is the issue of representations of common sense in non-proteomic regions of the host’s genome in brain.  It is extremely important to disambiguate proteomic (i.e., genetic) and non-proteomic (i.e., non-genetic) issues.  Equally important, developmental and nurturing aspects of congenital (and intrauterine), and post-natal components in common sense must be teased-out.




A focus on economics has another important implication. Because fMRI increasingly is used to assess brain activity in tasks involving moral and rational behavior, some version of this technology may contribute to the explication of one’s understanding of irrational, inappropriate, and ‘functional stroke’ activities in disorders of common sense (see [91, 92] in TA100).  Not only would this approach extend one’s understanding of brain and behavior, ultimately it may add support for common non-proteomic regions of the genome (in brain) serving as repositories of long-term memories.  In view of savant-like behaviors in Propositi “C” and “E”, fMRI also may contribute to the disambiguation of commonsense elements in the autistic spectrum of disorders – including Malcolm Gladwell’s notion “temporary autism” (see [80] in TA 100).  Indeed, temporary autism and dynamic changes in common sense (e.g., when under the influence of alcohol) now should be investigated for an underlying molecular biological basis.




Stanley Krippner offers an excellent suggestion that one analyze mathematics and reading performance (also see [65] in TA100). Needless to say, I considered this possibility on numerous occasions.  A more immediate challenge is to construct culturally-sensitive mathematics and logic problems as well as reading tasks that can distinguish reasoning skills associated with well-circumscribed errors in common sense from extreme outliers prevalent in disorders in common sense.  It was quite fortuitous that in 1985 the school librarian cited the material in Exhibit 4.  Without those examples, I may not have been able to identify aberrant common sense among the elementary school students in Sunnyvale, CA.  This challenge of producing culturally-sensitive and culturally-relevant materials may find expression and applications in art and graphics design, medicine, developmental psychology, education (including curriculum design, instructional science, and special education), and philosophy.  An appropriate novel test theory which takes into account peer and other cultural norms also may be indicated (see [79] in TA100).  [NB: ACT, ETS, and other testing services already use identifying numbers which can be used to both track individuals over time as well as assess an individual’s performance in relationship to his or her identified peers.]  Such a test theory would place less emphasis on “the bell curve” and individual differences.  It would incorporate more sensitivity to one’s relationships with peers.  After all, common sense is an attribute of both individuals and their populations.  The novel test theory also could resolve debates about languages, second languages, and, cultural and ethnic differences in performances.




Finally, Professor Krippner mentions that my notion of DNA being a repository of long-term memories is “extremely controversial, of course” and “the provocative notion about junk DNA.”  Because Krippner’s comments are based on an earlier version of my manuscript, I responded by adding an Afterword (see [106-118]) in TA 100.  Suffice it to say, the molecular evidence supporting my model is overwhelming … with most of that evidence having been available in 1979 (see Exhibit 1 and [106-118] in TA 100).  A central challenge now is to convince genome research teams headed by, say, Francis Collins, J. Craig Venter, Svante Pääbo or others that no(!) genome sequences will have full relevance without ruling out DNA dynamics in brain.  When one considers the many millions of dollars invested in genome sequencing equipment, laboratories and staffing, those research teams must be convinced that to ‘responsibly’ sequence genomes of higher-order organisms requires that they also explore evidence of extraordinary DNA dynamics lurking before their eyes.  In this regard, it should be noted that studies of cloning also may be inappropriate when cloning is limited to somatic cell sources for DNA.  Lastly, because it requires relatively little additional effort, any genome sequencing efforts (whether or not single-nucleotide polymorphism [SNP] analyses are used) should record and report G*C::A*T ratios to further one’s understanding of syntropy and its potential – both within individuals and within herds and other groups.




Roulette Wm. Smith

     E-Mail: <najms (at) postgraduate-interdisciplinary-studies.org>