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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ever wonder who determines what "common knowledge" / "common sense" is?

Well it just got me thinking because I was reading an article about people not knowing the Titanic was a real boat and figured it was just a movie. Now of course tons of people are shaking their heads, "praying for the future" because obviously not knowing about a boat 100 years ago sinking because it ran into some ice is knowledge that is going to serve in the production of goods/services in this country.

But in the article someone mentioned about how it's "common knowledge". But again, what is "common knowledge" is that just a term individuals use because they simply know? I'm sure there are a lot of historical events people don't know, history is a huge subject. On a related note I've never read Hamlet/Shakespeare/Catcher in the Rye, but I don't feel like I'm a "let down" to humanity, and I'm sure anyone who talked to me wouldn't feel that way either.

Same with "common sense". Based on what criteria?

I don't think people are common anymore, we are all just individuals.
 

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People were never "common" in that sense.

"Common knowledge" is a catch-all phrase used to refer to anything from information that should be self-evident, based purely on the fact that one leaves the house every now and again, to whatever the status quo has been determined to be at that precise moment. The latter end of the spectrum is rather easy to miss if one is not up on their pop culture.

As far as historical significance is concerned, I agree that the sinking of the Titanic is of extremely minor importance. At best.
 

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Are you sure you're not over-thinking these terms?

Let's see what a quick and easy google search reveals:

Common knowledge: "knowledge that is known by everyone or nearly everyone, usually in reference to the community in which the term is used."

Common sense: "simple and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts".

The criteria, is, for the most part, universal and applies to (nearly) everyone. Hence the adjective, "common". That's how these terms (and what they refer to) are determined.
 
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I've always thought that people shouldn't be judged on the fact that they aren't acquainted with some term or fact. It's not necessarily their fault that they just haven't come across some piece of knowledge before. And really...If something isn't in your field of interest, must you really educate yourself in it just for the sake of it...

But maybe I just think that way because I'm bad at following the news and learning relevant common knowledge stuff lol. But I still get along great in life! PFFT.

No but really, I try my best to not seem like an idiot so sometimes I brush on subjects I know should be common knowledge, even if they don't interest me. And I must admit that sometimes the fact that someone else doesn't know something they should is very amusing! :---D
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Are you sure you're not over-thinking these terms?

Let's see what a quick and easy google search reveals:

Common knowledge: "knowledge that is known by everyone or nearly everyone, usually in reference to the community in which the term is used."

Common sense: "simple and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts".

The criteria, is, for the most part, universal and applies to (nearly) everyone. Hence the adjective, "common". That's how these terms (and what they refer to) are determined.
Ok, I understand the criteria and concept. But what about in practice/practical application? How does one "know" what everyone else should "know"? That seems entirely subjective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
"Common knowledge" is a catch-all phrase used to refer to anything from information that should be self-evident,

to whatever the status quo has been determined to be at that precise moment.
But how do people base this information? How do people say "this is common knowledge/sense" but this other thing isn't? Is it direct personal filters? Seems subjective and not conclusive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I've always thought that people shouldn't be judged on the fact that they aren't acquainted with some term or fact. It's not necessarily their fault that they just haven't come across some piece of knowledge before. And really...If something isn't in your field of interest, must you really educate yourself in it just for the sake of it...
Yeah I don't like to judge either, but to respond to "must you really educate yourself in it just for the sake of it....". Only thing I can say there is in the sense that it's productive to yourself in the case that you communicate/work. What I mean is, if you are going to join the work force I think someone needs to have certain grammar skills/communication skills along with math skills amongst any other skills needed to work effectively. However if you are not going to contribute in any way to such things/community and are not a burden on society, I don't see anything wrong with not studying what you don't want to study. This would be extremely rare though that someone could live a whole lifetime without having to contribute to their own self-interests, almost like the movie Billy Madison.
 
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Ok, I understand the criteria and concept. But what about in practice/practical application? How does one "know" what everyone else should "know"? That seems entirely subjective.
What constitutes common knowledge is usually determined after the fact and it is an objective standard. Let's use that Titanic example. The day after boat sunk, not too many people were aware of the incident. This obviosely changed once news regarding the incident starting spreading throughout the U.S. via the media, the press, and word of mouth; this is also when it became common knowledge because nearly everyone was aware of it. And because it has been published in American History books, that information has been presevered and passed onto us (nearly all of us) in school, it still constitutes common knowledge to this very day. If it the information were somehow lost in the process, then it would not qualify as common knowledge.

So, this is how one can figure how one can know what everyone should know. A simple test to determine if x is common knowledge is to go to your local grocery story and ask 10 random people a simple, objective question based in reality. If most answer yes, then it's an indictor that it might be common knowledge. I don't know if common knowledge has any specific practical application, but it sure can come handy as it is a declared truth.

Did I adress what was required? I rambled a bit.
 

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Yeah I don't like to judge either, but to respond to "must you really educate yourself in it just for the sake of it....". Only thing I can say there is in the sense that it's productive to yourself in the case that you communicate/work. What I mean is, if you are going to join the work force I think someone needs to have certain grammar skills/communication skills along with math skills amongst any other skills needed to work effectively. However if you are not going to contribute in any way to such things/community and are not a burden on society, I don't see anything wrong with not studying what you don't want to study. This would be extremely rare though that someone could live a whole lifetime without having to contribute to their own self-interests, almost like the movie Billy Madison.
Haha yeah well I agree. Although sometimes the only reason I read about topics I know I SHOULD know about, is just because I don't want to make a fool of myself in public.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If it the information were somehow lost in the process, then it would not qualify as common knowledge.

So, this is how one can figure how one can know what everyone should know. A simple test to determine if x is common knowledge is to go to your local grocery story and ask 10 random people a simple, objective question based in reality. If most answer yes, then it's an indictor that it might be common knowledge. I don't know if common knowledge has any specific practical application, but it sure can come handy as it is a declared truth.

Did I adress what was required? I rambled a bit.
Well you don't have to be so formal. It's just a discussion about "common knowledge"/"common sense". You are still determining what it is, I'm discussing the filters people use to "declare" (incorrectly or correctly) what it is.

Yes you could ask 10 random people that question, however discussion in real-time are very fast and don't have the luxury to go ask 10 random people an objective question based in reality. People make "judgments" on what should be considered "common knowledge" or even "common sense" (which is even more subjective).

I honestly think "common knowledge" as per the phrase is more subjective than anything, people believe what they "know" and what they think others should "know" is simply "common knowledge" so they label it that and use it as almost a measuring tool (some do) to place themselves in a hierarchy of social order.
 

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I think there are some smarmie MFers around, many in cities, who grow to be essentially smug pr%@#s thinking they're better than others just because they're up on the latest trivia
 

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Well you don't have to be so formal. It's just a discussion about "common knowledge"/"common sense". You are still determining what it is, I'm discussing the filters people use to "declare" (incorrectly or correctly) what it is.

Yes you could ask 10 random people that question, however discussion in real-time are very fast and don't have the luxury to go ask 10 random people an objective question based in reality. People make "judgments" on what should be considered "common knowledge" or even "common sense" (which is even more subjective).

I honestly think "common knowledge" as per the phrase is more subjective than anything, people believe what they "know" and what they think others should "know" is simply "common knowledge" so they label it that and use it as almost a measuring tool (some do) to place themselves in a hierarchy of social order.
Let's say that he's right and that's what common knowledge is. So basically it's something that enough people know about that people who don't know about it are looked at like they're crazy for not knowing about it. Even so, if they don't know about it, they're not a "let down". No one will be able to know about every event taking place or every book or movie or whatever that most others would know about. In my mind seeing the movie "a little princess" is something everyone should have seen and if not, they need to go see it now. But my coworkers tell me I've been cheated out of a childhood because I haven't seen "tommy boy". The news reporter who wrote the article and whoever thinks of people as being let downs based on not knowing something, are just a bunch of pricks. Though it's funny to me if people don't know the titanic was real by now, people only know what they know. Who am I to judge? Don't think too much into what you read because it's only based on a few people's opinions most of the time anyway. 75% of statistics are made up on the spot and most research is biased and sponsored by people who want the result to come out in their favor.
 
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Common knowledge is subjective it's all based on the group in which you are identifying. People my age or older maybe a couple years younger due to the movie and all the media presence should have caught on that Titanic was a real ship...

It really is completely based on the group we are discussing. In biology it's common knowledge that evolution is in fact the founding theory of biology. However when we look at the national scale it is far from common knowledge though it really ought to be lol.

Sadly the majority of the world doesn't give a flying fuck about knowing for the sake of knowledge. They either want complete ignorance or only a select portion of knowledge. Figuring one of our species greatest feats is that of gathering and maintaining knowledge, people really don't appreciate it. Maybe if people appreciated it as much as they did it's applications "technology" the world would be a better place.
 
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In regards to the Titanic. It's common b/c if you went through the public education system, it would be VERY hard not to run across the sinking of the Titanic as part of your history curriculum. So within a certain age group, and assuming you went through a school that was inside of the Dept of Education standards... it would be hard to miss.


This can be broken down into minutia, for instance if you are in an upper level biology class where everybody is a biology major, certain things such as what DNA is should be common knowledge at that point.

The same way you SHOULD have had to memorize all the states and state capitals at some point.

Or there is national shared experiences, how do you not know about the September 11th attacks if you were living then unless you were living under a rock.

None of this has anything thing to do with people using the saying "it's common knowledge" on something that isn't, and using the term to deride or look down upon you... B/C people WILL do that to try to claim authority over you.

These are two different subjects though.

I mean if you want to get empirical about it, just run a survey... You could run a survey on every single question, set the threshold at 90% of what is to be common knowledge and be done with it. Common knowledge is by nature a loose and vague term though, so I don't see the point in debating it.
 

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"common sense" is misnamed; so is "common knowledge" ~ they are based on expectations the public does not fulfill

all that is common to people is some knowledge of that which interests them most
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Let's say that he's right and that's what common knowledge is. So basically it's something that enough people know about that people who don't know about it are looked at like they're crazy for not knowing about it. Even so, if they don't know about it, they're not a "let down". No one will be able to know about every event taking place or every book or movie or whatever that most others would know about. In my mind seeing the movie "a little princess" is something everyone should have seen and if not, they need to go see it now. But my coworkers tell me I've been cheated out of a childhood because I haven't seen "tommy boy". The news reporter who wrote the article and whoever thinks of people as being let downs based on not knowing something, are just a bunch of pricks. Though it's funny to me if people don't know the titanic was real by now, people only know what they know. Who am I to judge? Don't think too much into what you read because it's only based on a few people's opinions most of the time anyway. 75% of statistics are made up on the spot and most research is biased and sponsored by people who want the result to come out in their favor.
Oh yeah I realize people have opinions that are not based on fact. That's the point of the thread really. Exploring/discussing what is "common knowledge" to people. What do you feel someone should "know"? Do you think people will say it's "common knowledge" without actually knowing it's "common knowledge"? It goes back to lazy labeling, I feel people are quick to label things so their filters make sense to them. But it begs the question, if "common knowledge" is subjective, is there really that much that is "common knowledge"?

I understand he's right about the definition of "common knowledge" and what's it's suppose to be. I'm exploring the filters of people who think they "know" what it's suppose to be.

Sorry if I'm not getting my point across clearly here in this thread.

Common knowledge is subjective it's all based on the group in which you are identifying. People my age or older maybe a couple years younger due to the movie and all the media presence should have caught on that Titanic was a real ship...

It really is completely based on the group we are discussing. In biology it's common knowledge that evolution is in fact the founding theory of biology. However when we look at the national scale it is far from common knowledge though it really ought to be lol.

Sadly the majority of the world doesn't give a flying fuck about knowing for the sake of knowledge. They either want complete ignorance or only a select portion of knowledge. Figuring one of our species greatest feats is that of gathering and maintaining knowledge, people really don't appreciate it. Maybe if people appreciated it as much as they did it's applications "technology" the world would be a better place.
Well I don't think everyone is required to know more. One good example would be a career farmer. Does he need to know about evolution? Is it required if he can live his whole life without it? I think people get to a point where they are content with the knowledge they have and wish to continue/shape their life with that knowledge.
 

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On a related note I've never read Hamlet/Shakespeare/Catcher in the Rye
Hamlet IS Shakespeare...
Now, somebody could have easily not read Hamlet or Catcher in the Rye.
On the other hand I would find it hard that you've never come across ANY Shakespeare... Ever? Romeo and Juliet even?

I would find it hard to be the case assuming you graduated from high school in the U.S.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
In regards to the Titanic. It's common b/c if you went through the public education system, it would be VERY hard not to run across the sinking of the Titanic as part of your history curriculum. So within a certain age group, and assuming you went through a school that was inside of the Dept of Education standards... it would be hard to miss.
You think the Titanic should really be that big of a deal that it's a "Dept of Education" standard? I think there are more important events out there that would give to critical thinking skills and historic events.

The same way you SHOULD have had to memorize all the states and state capitals at some point.
I don't know all the state capitals, I find it trivial to know them all. I'd rather know how the circuit board of a computer works, or the programming language.


Common knowledge is by nature a loose and vague term though, so I don't see the point in debating it.
Exactly my point, and this isn't a "debate" it's just a random discussion.

"common sense" is misnamed; so is "common knowledge" ~ they are based on expectations the public does not fulfill

all that is common to people is some knowledge of that which interests them most
EXACTLY.
 
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Well I don't think everyone is required to know more. One good example would be a career farmer. Does he need to know about evolution? Is it required if he can live his whole life without it? I think people get to a point where they are content with the knowledge they have and wish to continue/shape their life with that knowledge.
Well if you are in the U.S. it IS required, hence compulsory education, we established this around the early 1900s. If your child is not receiving education and in the U.S. a social worker has the legality to take them away from said parental units. Evolution is another story, but we had mandates for just this kind of thing during the Progressive Era.
 
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