Every time I hear that phrase, I think yes it is. Yes it is right there in front of us, the third person just can’t see it. All over the internet (if you Google it) are sites and messages from the well meaning, angry people who know the thing in question, attempting to point out a fact or a situation that is hidden in plain view for that third person who just can’t see.
Can’t you see it? Can’t you see it? Why can’t you see it?
Why do I say the obvious is hidden? Because it must be hidden. Hidden by something. Why else would someone ask a patently obvious question? (aside from the rhetorical question. Obviously) They don’t see the answer even though the answer is right before them. This is not a mark of stupidity, it’s a perception problem.
I looked up obvious on several dictionary sites in an attempt to confirm the nuances of meaning that I see in the word. None of them seem to see the obvious differences between obvious and similar words like apparent and evident. Appearances can be illusory. Evidence reveals the evident answer.
You can be blind to the obvious, because it is in the way (as the Latin states) a see the forest for the trees type of situation. So look carefully before asking that next obvious question or be prepared to literally stumble over the answer when it is pointed out to you.