Book Reviews

Everything Is Obvious- Circular Reasoning

Everything Is Obvious* Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts and has captured my interest from the first second I read the title. This is clearly surprising coming from a college student forced to read non-fiction for a marketing class. However, the book explains how common sense often fails the human brain because many facts/events seem to happen for an obvious reason simply because we can look back to analyze the facts. When humans are in the moment we can’t judge something as easily because our logic is not as strong as it appears.

Chapter 3 dives into the theory of circular reasoning in which Watts states ” all we are really saying is that ‘X happened because that’s what people wanted; and we know that X is what they wanted because X is what happened”. The discussion here is based on famous items and how they became famous which society often declares “well, it’s common sense how it became popular”! The author uses the Mona Lisa, Harry Potter and Facebook as examples and suggests that once this concept is understood it is difficult to argue other popular ideas in society because the facts simply lead you back in a circle.

Ugg boots are not a fashion item I enjoy– stay with me here–  yet they are the first ridiculously popular item that popped in my brain to test the circular reasoning idea. How does a plain, simple, fur-lined boot become a national trend? My opinion is that the creators took a fur covered boot and turned it inside out for a suede outing with the seams showing. Uggs did not inspire everyday society by celebrity influence and certainly not by an affordable price. But many other women have fallen in love with them due to the comfort of the warm fur and simple style. There might have been some luck involved with having the shoe being promoted so widely – but in the end the only way to describe what makes the boot popular is simply the exact description of the boot. Uggs are popular because they are Uggs. X is popular because it is X and it became popular. What seems like common sense thinking “because everyone wanted them” leads to answer why people wanted them with “because they are Uggs”. A prime example of how common sense can trick the human mind and fall apart to pieces.

Watts describes different theories in a light conversational way and challenges the reader to consider what “common sense” really means.

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