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The obvious is relative

Everyday we make numerous assumptions about how the world works to avoid information overload. However, what if many of those assumptions were incorrect?

Author, Duncan Watts makes a very compelling case in his book, Everything is Obvious. In one example, he shares the following: A group of participants are asked, “Who would perform better in the Marines; rural folks or city folks?” They are told the correct answer is “rural folks” because they are familiar with open spaces and battling the elements. They are also connected with the outdoors and they toil with physical force.

The response is, “That’s obvious.” The participants nod their heads in agreement.

The moderator then tells the group he was joking and says, “The correct answer is ‘city folks’ because they are used to systems, regime, hierarchy of command, taking orders, tight spaces, and high mental stress.”

The response is once again, “That’s obvious.” Everyone nods their heads in agreement.


We must be careful about what we label as “obvious.” This supports Maxim #4 in the Maxims for Mavericks Manifesto: “Never assume the obvious is true.”

As Watts’ book demonstrates, we, as humans, often draw bold conclusions from any data that best supports information we deem to be either most accurate or most important.

Once we are aware of what appears to be the final outcome, the process and “facts” seem… obvious.  But the obvious encourages us to oversimplify what we see and think and then justify our initial assumptions.

To experience the ordinary, take life at face value. To pursue the extraordinary, be prepared to examine, test, and experiment.

Be a Maverick,

– Kent

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