FEATURE12 April 2017

Why is common sense so rare?

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Prior experience is often ignored in the quest by businesses and governments to move forward, says Lorna Tilbian, who says common sense is anything but common. 

Human behaviour is notoriously difficult to predict, as pollsters on both sides of the pond discovered in 2016. But then we’ve always known that, haven’t we? If a fire suddenly breaks out in a confined space, how do you accurately predict human response? How do you know who will be frozen in fear, who will dash for the exit, who will heroically leap to rescue others or, in this internet age, stop to snap and tweet the event? Difficult to tell, isn’t it? 

By contrast, it should be easy to predict the result of an event that is virtually a replay of a previous one, shouldn’t it? Well, no. The ability of human beings to ignore the lessons of history is boundless. As investor Sir John Templeton rightly observed, “it is different this time” are the five most expensive words in stock market history. 

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