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The Return of Common Sense

By Lauren Smith | November 26, 2007

An Interview with the author……

the-return-of-common-sense.jpgLauren Smith: What is your book about?

Felix R. Toro, M.D.: The book is about our need to return to Common Sense. We live in the “Information Age” were we receive instantaneous news and opinions from the Internet and 24-hour/day T.V. Experts, Special Interest Groups and Bloggers, presents contradictory information of how we should think, buy or vote. Even in the “hard sciences” like physics, Nobel Prize winners cannot agree on how the Universe works. So if these Nobel Prize winners cannot agree, how can we, the “none-experts”, integrate all these new uncertain information to decide today? By the process and cultivation of common sense; sound judgment not based in specialized knowledge. Since the last century, society has evolved into Special Interest Groups whose ideology discourages common sense. They usually advocate their single cause without considering all the trade-offs or how it will affect the rest of society. That is how we end with a patchwork of policies that do not make sense.

Lauren Smith: What inspired you to write it?

Felix R. Toro, M.D.: While I was involved in developing innovative mental health programs, a frequent comment was, “that makes sense and you are the one of the few psychiatrist with common sense”. While my first reaction was to thank them, after a while I started pondering what they meant. During the 1980′s there were more disagreement between the more than 100′s school of thought of the causes and treatment of psychiatric problems. The problem was that when the referring physician or family members asked different treatment providers for information, they would receive contradictory diagnosis, causes or ways to help the patient. Many providers acted more like Special Interest Groups, depending on how they were trained or their personal believes. Instead of accepting we did not know enough and were just managing uncertain knowledge in trying to help the patient, they pushed their beliefs or agenda. Many in the health field who takes it to the extreme are described as “Indoctrinologists”. A better way to deal with uncertain knowledge is thru the process of common sense, so you can be generally right and avoid been precisely wrong. While studying this relationship it became clear to me that common sense has been a defining character of the pragmatic American Constitutional Democracy which is been undermine by Special Interest Groups. As I am a physician, I have use examples in the controversial Mental Health fields to explain the need to return to common sense.

Lauren Smith: Do you think ordinary citizens can make changes or take back their

Felix R. Toro, M.D.: Yes, we can do something about it. Let us remember that a Constitutional Democracy is based on the idea of Freedom, one citizen one vote. All individual votes count the same regardless of social position, wealth, or your beliefs. Special Interest Group Lobbies indirectly usurp this idea by concentrating money, power and influence in their agenda that does not considers how the rest of society gets affected. If you do not belong to that Group, your opinion or vote will not count as much, unless you develop or join a powerful group against it. Then the cycle goes on. We will be like in George Orwell’s Animal Farm were, “All animals are equal, but some more equal than others”. If you do not join one of the groups your one citizen one vote will melt away. We need to review President Lincoln’s Gettysburg address …and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. He did not say this or that group, but repeated people. We need to clip the power of Special Interest Groups.

Lauren Smith: What an ordinary citizen do right now to live a more “common sense” life?

Felix R. Toro, M.D.: In our modern stressful lives, we depend on the short news report, press releases or advertisements. Many times there are just Special Interest Groups in disguise. If we cultivate common sense we will be able to deal with this contradictory and uncertain knowledge. I will give you the short version of how to think in Common Sense Terms: First be better at listening; understand what is the situation or problem you are analyzing. Good judgment is based on reality, get your ego out of the situation, “step back”. Avoid wishful thinking. We want things to go a certain way, but how things are, is not under our control. Good common sense is in tune with the way things are, and not what we want them to be. Be a little skeptical. Many times the situations or problems are consciously (or subconsciously) presented with the biases of the person or of Special Interest Groups. Remember knowledge is about the past, thinking about the future.

Lauren Smith: When do you feel we started losing our common sense?

Felix R. Toro, M.D.: Even tough Human Nature is such that we have always organize and belong to multiple groups, from tribes to religious or even sports teams, it is only over the past Century that “Corporations” have formed to push an Agenda. Originally most corporations were business legal entities. Over the years the courts have given them more a status of an independent person with rights and responsibilities. This has evolved into “none-business” Special Interest Groups and Lobby that end on been “animals (groups) more equal than others (individuals). You can get more information at my Web-site, www.commonsense-mentalhealth.com, where you can also purchase the book, thanks.

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