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The Paradox of Common Sense, Essay Example

Pages: 3

Words: 793

Essay

In the readings from “Everything is Obvious”, the author serves to do a few things. In the preface, he explains his background as a physicist before a social scientist. This is meant to make the basis of his argument regarding many social issues and problems; the author makes it clear that the social sciences are not seen as “sciences”, and the incorrect labeling has long-reaching results. The author cites the “Lake Wobegone effect”, that states humans are unable to critique themselves (Preface, xv), making a strong point. In addition, starting on page 4, he makes the claim that social norms, with specific reference to authority figures, dictate our everyday behavior, another point difficult to debate. Both of these claims illustrate how what is known as “common sense” can be both beneficial and detrimental to a person as a whole.

With specific regards to the author’s reference to the “Lake Wobegone effect” (Preface, xv), this is extremely relevant from a social science standpoint. Especially considering the author’s presentation of the evidence that “90% of Americans believe they are better than average drivers”, this can be applied in many different ways. If humans are inherently born with these tendencies of megalomania, than how could a person possible ever take full criticism? This is not the only possible implication of the “Lake Wobegone effect” on society, though.

From the standpoint of a sociologist, and with direct regards to the “common sense” described by the authors, there is also a large issue when considering “Lake Wobegone”. If humans have megalomania built into their psyche, this affects their perception on virtually everything. By all accounts, the perception an individual has on anything truly is their reality. Perhaps this megalomania, when allowed to run wild, can account for many acts normally deemed unexplainable.

This directly links with the author’s point on authority figures. In the text they claim that social norms dictate most of our behavior and our sometimes-unquestioning obedience of authority figures. When these social norms are challenged, especially authority figures, sociologists must account for both the percentage of antisocial behavior, but also the ego-centrism the authors conclude are wired into humans.

This can be directly applied to children, especially with reference to social work, and evaluation of antisocial behavior. It has become extremely common to medicate children with apparent behavioral issues. An apparent consistency to conform to social norms and obey authority figures directly clashes with the apparent megalomania in humans, so naturally it is a mitigating factor.

Taking into consideration the fact that the studies pointing to egocentric behavior in humans were taken on an individual level, perhaps this wiring is meant only to be a part of what Freud would call the id. The id, defined as what a person truly wants, uninhibited, does have a direct effect on social interactions. If these reasonable conclusions have merit, psychotherapy can correct this behavior, without the need of possibly dangerous medication. This could mean the difference between giving a child a highly addictive and mood altering drug such as Amphetamine Salts, better known as Adderall.

Throughout crafting my essay, and subsequently my argument, I did begin to reflect on myself, and experience I personally have had with regards to both authority and egocentric behavior. It only took the time of actually writing this essay to reflect on a fair amount of experiences where I believe I allowed my narcissism to get in the way of absorbing information.

Of course there are always times when a person is wrong; nobody is impervious to mistake. It is clearly how that mistake is handled that is the difference. An inability to take constructive criticism in my own life has definitely impacted me in a negative way. For instance, I remember once insisting that the way I constructed my notes and outline was the best way to do so. My teacher debated me, but I insisted that my sweeping overview was superior to her more detailed version.

When I handed in the final paper, I apologized to my teacher–I did not realize until it came to constructing the paper that I realized my material was way too thin. My absolute insistance that I was correct cost me a few sleepless nights, in addition to a reality check.

This essay also made me reflect on the troubles of my cousin. Now older and proverbially “in control”, he was heavily medicated as a child because of his resistance to authority. He was placed in classes meant for educationally impaired children, and this was detrimental to his development. Instead, he read to get his real education.

I believe, especially after reading “Everything is Obvious” and applying my sociological knowledge, that psychotherapy should be more widely applied to children–the result would be a control over the tendencies of megalomania we are all wired with.

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