On the dangers of “good” advice

“The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanation of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be “Seek simplicity and distrust it.” – Alfred North Whitehead
from (http://scienceblogs.com/developingintelligence/2007/05/14/why-the-simplest-theory-is-alm/)

“Common sense is not so common.”
― Voltaire, A Pocket Philosophical Dictionary
(http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/common-sense)

“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”
― Isaac Asimov, I, Robot
(http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/common-sense)

“Common sense is what tells us the earth is flat.”
― Stuart Chase, Language in Thought and Action
(http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/common-sense)

In short, to correctly interpret an aphorism you have to know the context, which isn’t present in the aphorism itself. Context is always vital.

About Michael Harries

Technologist - emerging technologies, machine intelligence, foundational tech - startups and more.
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