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Compiling List of Common Sense Truisms
November 25, 2008 1:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to compile a comprehensive list of "common sense" truisms, conventional beliefs we take as axiomatic. Does anyone know any sources of truisms, proverbs, maxims and related common sense beliefs? Feel free to contribute such notions from your own domain or area of expertise!

Hey Fellow Metafilterians. I'm compiling a list of common sense notions about the world or about human beings or about situations or whatever. NOT in the form of cliches (like a rolling stone gathers no moss) but that embody our "common sense" view of the world (or people).

Here are some random examples:
* The shortest distance between two lines is a straight point.
* People are motivated by rewards (or punishments).
* The more a product or service costs, the lower the demand for it.
* To lose weight, an organism must consumer fewer calories.

My ultimate purpose is to hold these truisms to the harsh light of a sustained examination and see whether they are actually tenable, and if not when they fail. First, of course, I need to compile them.

Thanks so much!!
posted by adamrobinson to Human Relations (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I meant the shortest distance between two points is a straight line! Duh.
posted by adamrobinson at 1:17 PM on November 25, 2008


Poor Richards Almanack perhaps
posted by timsteil at 1:20 PM on November 25, 2008


Maths ones are easy to find. See e.g. Peano's axioms. This sort of question is studied a lot in maths and logic.
posted by katrielalex at 1:22 PM on November 25, 2008


probably not what you're looking for, but:

there is no such thing as common sense. it's either common or it's sense. it's rarely both.
posted by stubby phillips at 1:24 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


Read on the internet in the early to mid 90s: "Common sense is what tells you the world is flat."
posted by kimota at 1:29 PM on November 25, 2008


This may not be exactly what you're looking for, but it is the sweetest website I've found in a while.
posted by YFiB at 1:45 PM on November 25, 2008 [4 favorites]


Pedantically, I think you're looking more for aphorisms. Truisms are statements constructed to appear to be true and common sense, but which aren't necessarily true nor common sense.
posted by rhizome at 1:48 PM on November 25, 2008


Is Murphy's Law too cliche?
posted by puke & cry at 1:54 PM on November 25, 2008


Induction is a valid method of reasoning.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:08 PM on November 25, 2008


Jenny Holzer
posted by dolface at 2:45 PM on November 25, 2008


To lose weight, an organism must consumer fewer calories [than it expends].
posted by blue_beetle at 2:46 PM on November 25, 2008


consume.
posted by stubby phillips at 3:01 PM on November 25, 2008


(this is not to say that i agree with that truism)
posted by stubby phillips at 3:09 PM on November 25, 2008


The idea that the more expensive something is the lower the demand will be is definitely not true; apocryphally (although this does make sense to me), when some brand of scotch (I think, though it might have been gin) wanted to increase their number of sales, they actually raised the price since if it seemed like cheap booze no one would want it. Increasing the price often increases the perceived benefit rather than lowering demand.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 3:25 PM on November 25, 2008


When dealing with unknown quantities, start with the 80/20 rule if you have no idea where else to begin. IE - 20% of the customers generate 80% of the profits, 20% of the people do 80% of the work, etc.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 3:44 PM on November 25, 2008


Never eat yellow snow.
posted by Mephisto at 5:27 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


check out the Cyc project... http://www.cyc.com/
posted by jrishel at 6:34 PM on November 25, 2008


Don't fuck with the pancreas.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 6:52 PM on November 25, 2008


More a cliche than what you're looking for, but in the case of college professors, someone always says:

"I always learn more from the students than I teach them."

I'd like to find whoever said that and stare at them a while.
posted by vincele at 8:19 PM on November 25, 2008


Minims, the opposite of maxims.
posted by Schmucko at 9:18 PM on November 25, 2008 [1 favorite]


the meaning of life is that it stops
posted by Redhush at 10:00 PM on November 25, 2008


(Mrs. Pterodactyl, I've heard that story told about Chivas Regal.)
posted by bink at 10:14 PM on November 25, 2008


An earlier, brilliant example of your project is Flaubert's Dictionary of Commonly Accepted Ideas.
posted by ferdydurke at 12:40 AM on November 26, 2008


It's never lupus.
posted by like_neon at 1:53 AM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]


How about that book, "The 48 Laws of Power"? It's full of human motivation ideas from all sorts of sources. (A little too orange for me, though.)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:21 AM on November 26, 2008


The shortest distance between two lines is a straight point.

Ah ha.
posted by Deathalicious at 10:05 AM on November 26, 2008


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