No Brainer

It’s a No Brainer

The implication of a no brainer on the surface is that “any idiot can do it.” But in an age where the use of words such as idiot are so taboo, does the term no brainer really carry much wait at all? As a matter of fact, it seems that it really doesn’t carry the weight that it used to.

 To be a no brainer a particular job or activity has to lack any sense of complexity; it must be so straightforward that there is no possible way to fail in completing the task. In fact, it should be so apparent what needs to be done that even someone like the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz could easily complete it with no direction. But the real meaning of a no brainer is actually less straightforward in most people’s minds.

 It is not so much that the task is so straightforward that no brainpower is expended at all. What we really mean when we say this is that it is common sense, which varies from individual to individual. We look at a situation and we determine that, in our own estimation, the task was easily accomplished without accessing deeply rooted centers of knowledge that we have gathered over the years. In fact, no brainer can be used to express one’s superiority over another person—knowingly or not—because our experience and knowledge is different from theirs.

 This point is easily illustrated by any situation in which one person says a task was a no brainer and a coworker or other person says something like “well, maybe for you.” It can create animosity or can become a source of humor among friends and family. But in the end, there is no quantitative measure of what a no brainer task really is.

 After all, we could say that eating and breathing are no brainers. And, to a certain degree, theses are probably the only tasks that we can universally agree should not require any brainpower at all but if that were true then methods for alternate feeding and breathing methods would not be necessary unless someone’s brain is not functioning at all. Unfortunately, we are aware that this is not the case.

 Ultimately, there is no clear definition of a no brainer. In most instances, the term seems to be used by people who want to emphasize their superiority in some area of expertise. While one person may think that writing an essay is a no brainer another person would probably not feel that way but might find replacing the brakes on a car is a no brainer. So in the end we need to understand that this term is not a definition of the ease of a task, it is more a definition of our familiarity and knowledge of the task at hand and has little or no relation to what others around us might feel.