I often hear academics lack common sense. They might reply real thinking involves getting rid of it, or that common sense is just the ability to believe the Earth is flat (they are wrong on both counts in part). Observation though, is much more difficult than most suppose. Looking at micro-expression as a means to tell whether people are telling the truth, one discovers some people can’t even see them. It takes years to get undergraduates to be able to take reliable measurements and we fail with most of them. Most people can’t do basic science and are even worse at critical reasoning. This is my opinion from years of teaching around the world – I’d add that substantial numbers seem to have acquired these skills from work in their own lives without university. This is the opinion though, not the first hand evidence.
It’s actually very difficult to establish the real evidence, and sometimes this is a very theoretical matter. This isn’t helped by theoretical blather (statistical manipulation etc.) being used to establish false cases or just distract from what could otherwise be obvious. The Catch 22 is that this is intellectually a very difficult area and that most of us are not much good at being intellectual -let alone that we cannot trust people being intellectual to be honest, not least as they are usually bought and paid for like lawyers.
One intellectual aspect of getting to evidence involves finding out what is commonly wrong with apparently contested positions. The classic is Einstein’s reformulation of kinematics to move on from disparities between Maxwell’s laws and the results of the best experiments available then. The existing kinematics was common to both sides and was what was causing the problems.
My grandson and his mates currently make many mistakes they would not if they could listen to my boring old fart experience – such as turning up to watch Toy Story 3 having blagged a fiver from relevant responsible adults like me, only to find it is a 3-D performance and £6.70plus goggles to get in, advice to check having been ignored. There is much reason to listen to experience,but we should not confuse it with first-hand evidence. It may still only be the experience of idiots. We forget this too readily when claiming experience, and the long history of collective clown ‘reasoning’ by all kinds of groups, including intellectuals who have elevated all kinds of dross to Bildung over human history.
What is remarkable about most claims to experience is how parochial they are. This does not mean we should not collect them, but they are claims to experience not first-hand evidence. ‘Professionals’ have made all kinds of claims to success under ZPF Nulabour we know to be false when subjected to public scrutiny.