Stating the Obvious | Value of the Obvious | A Reminder

A Reminder

We have seen that through recalling information we are afforded the opportunity to re-assess our relation to it. It’s also worth considering that stating the obvious can simply function as a reminder, bringing to mind something that we may have forgotten or become oblivious to.

Obvious things by their nature are often subject to being overlooked, and as such we run the risk of becoming mindless to them. In other words, the knowledge may have become so commonplace that we no longer are aware of it in the way that, at one point, we may have been.

This idea can be seen when a new person enters a workplace. If this person needs to be shown the ropes by a more experienced member of staff, then this process could, for the latter, involve relating a number of ‘obvious’ pieces of information. However, it may be that to the experienced staff member this information has become so obvious, so everyday, that they no longer remember that they even know it. The information has, in other words, become unconscious; it has become part of a process, and no longer exists in the way that, outside of this process, it may have done.

Langer talks about this idea, ‘Repetition can lead to mindlessness in almost any profession. If you asked an experienced and a novice typist to type a paragraph without the usual spaces separating words … it is likely that the person with less experience will have an edge … A familiar structure or rhythm helps lead to mental laziness, acting as a signal that there is no need to pay attention. The rhythm of the familiar lulls us into mindlessness …’4

So the presence of the novice, asking questions and making statements about the obvious, could function to retrieve information from the unconscious, and remind the expert of what they had, in some sense, forgotten.