Monday, May 16, 2005

I get press releases, Volume 14: Sneezing out some common sense

It's always nice to come in on Monday morning with some fresh news waiting for you. Unfortunately, the following news release was all that was waiting in my e-mail inbox. It showed up at 5:12 this morning, the theory, I suppose, being that anything looks like news at 5:12 am:


Expert on Subject Considers Common Sense
A Life Skill that Can Be Learned

It'll come as no surprise, I'm sure, that this news release comes to us from the people who make Scott tissues and toilet paper:

NEENAH, Wis., May 11, 2005 – Underscoring the importance of sharing practical information, eight of 10 Americans claim that exchanging common-sense information with others makes them smarter, and 68 percent believe it even makes them more successful. Indeed, a new national survey on common sense and sharing commissioned by SCOTT® Tissue and Towels finds that 99 percent consider common sense important to their everyday lives.

Even more amazing is the fact that the 1 percent who don't believe common sense is important are all driving cars and bikes in Flagstaff, Arizona, at the exact time I'm commuting to work. But I digress.

While Americans think common sense is important, they don’t realize it can be developed. In fact, 40 percent don’t believe it can be learned, and only one-in-five Americans thinks people are born with it. But Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Psychology and Education and Professor of Management at Yale University and an expert on practical intelligence, differs strongly with that view. He contends that common sense is a life skill that can be learned and improved, especially by sharing ideas and information with others.

This is sounding suspiciously like another example of industry funding university research. It's no wonder the New England Journal of Medicine hasn't printed the results. But common sense dictates that we move on...
Recognizing the importance of sharing ideas, the SCOTT® Brand is beginning a nationwide Common Sense Tour in May 2005. The 15-city tour kicks off in New York City on May 11 and will bring residents together to share their common-sense tips and ideas. The tour will feature the House that Common Sense Built, an interactive common-sense exhibit and “think tank.” In addition, SCOTT continues the year-old online Common Sense Community, at, a resource for everyday common-sense tips and information.

There's a lot more from this amazingly long press release, for example the fact that "people in Boise, Salt Lake City and San Antonio think it’s easy to find people in their community with whom they can share tips. Whereas, residents of Los Angeles and Denver say it is more challenging to know who to go to in their cities." But at this point, it seemed wise to check out, to see what important common sense tips we can glean from a company which used 3.1 million metric tons of virgin wood pulp in 2004. (This has nothing to do with common sense, per se, but was an interesting number gleaned from the Kimberly-Clark corporation's sustainability report.) Anyway here's some purported common sense:
Reducing Static Cling
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and - voila - static is gone.

Maple Rapids, NH

I think it's safe to say that this is exactly the kind of tip that'll make the House That Common Sense Built a much bigger draw than the new Star Wars movie, the forthcoming Harry Potter book, or even, say, the upcoming exciting interleague baseball matchup between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Kansas City Royals.

The quite-funny comedian/commentator, Lewis Black, has made quite a life for himself, railing against the lack of common sense apparent in American society today:
"The problem is that none of us have a lick of common sense. it's be great if we could find someone to teach common sense, but [flapping jowl noise], who are we going to get?"

Lewis Black has obviously not met "Kerry from Canada", who also contributed to the website:

Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's a lot cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair...

So, maybe this is just an argument over semantics, but since when has the term "common sense" become synonymous with "Hints from Heloise"?

One can only assume that it's only because it lacks any laundry or personal grooming tips that this quote didn't make it on the Scott® website:
To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason forbids us to have faith, and our affections wounded through a thousand pores instruct us to detest, is madness and folly.

Thomas Paine
Colonial America

Of course, at 5:12 am, even Thomas Paine might have shaved his legs with hair conditioner.

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