Epi-Thinking: Restoring Sagacity to Common Sense
            

              Evoking a new way of thinking.

      Common Sense


           Common sense is defined by Merriam-Webster as, "sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts."  


           It is believed that in most cases that simple perception is "good enough". But, simple perceptions fail to adequately capture the import of context or situation.  They are poor at reflecting more than single order effects (where a leads to b).  By relying on common sense, we  are  in effect relying on the assumption that simple perceptions are adequate for the task or judgment at hand.  But are they?


           Jay Forrester has noted: "While most people understand first-order effects, few deal well with second- and third-order effects. Unfortunately, virtually everything interesting lies in fourth-order effects and beyond."


           When simple perceptions are inadequate,  then the need for tools that enable better access to “what, who, and how much” one needs to know becomes painfully obvious. Expanding upon common sense -- either in the form of developing better tools for simple perceptions,    better methods for simplifying complex perceptions, or better approaches for making judgments based on these simple perceptions just will not help in that portion of the world where "success" lies in developing an understanding of boundaries, constraints, and possibilities  inherent in the interactions of large numbers of autonomous and semi-autonomous agents.


            Many attempts have been made over the years to refine the notion of common sense -- nearly all have run into the same obstacle:  simple perceptions are oft times inadequate to capture what we need to know about a given situation or context in which we find ourselves.


            Thus the need to expand our repertoire beyond common sense.


               

******************
See:   1)  Vidulich, M., Dominguez, C., Vogel, E. and McMillan, G., 1994, Situation Awareness: Papers and Annotated Bibliography, Wright Patterson AFB., OH: Air Force Material Command Report AL/CF-TR-1994-0085.

         2)  Lissack, M. and Roos, J., 2001, The Next Common Sense

         2)  Michael Lissack explaining how to use the principles of the book The Next Common Sense