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Can we train our intuition to be more effective at solving problems?

Seventeen years ago I wrote an article called, "Communal Blind Spot Theory". In that article it was my experience that in every discipline I have studied there are collective oversights i.e. communal blind spots.

Think of an individual blind spot as you not seeing a glass of water on the kitchen counter in plain sight. Now imagine 1000 people going into the kitchen not seeing that glass of water on the counter.

Can we train our intuition to see through those blind spots?

We speak of a woman's intuitiion. What do we mean? Do we mean a woman feeling uneasy about entering an elevator with a single man inside? Do we mean a brilliant research scientist who has a strong "gut" reaction about one aspect of her studies? Clearly these are two entirely different aspects of a "woman's intuition".

Here is a cook book recipe to use intuition as a research tool. It is argued here that an intuitive view of reality is every bit as valid as a logical and factual view of reality. Thus it is only when my intuition agrees with the facts and logic that I view this as useful knowledge.

Here is how it works in practice. Suppose I have a strong gut reaction that a particular enzyme impacts on a specific gene and this results in an elevated rate of breast cancer. I test this hypothesis and get a null result but my gut tells me that the results are not consistent with my intuition.

Do I walk away from my intuition? According to my theories, no. You run the experiment weeks or months later to try to confirm the earlier results. If you get a null result, then you walk away for another few months. Next time you tweak the experiment say changing the temperature or PH slightly and run the experiment again. If you get a null result yet your intuition remains fixed, you tweak the experiment again.

Clearly this is not possible in the real world; if you were to run the same experiments again and again with null results you won't get funding, but it is critical to finding paradigm shifts.

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  • Nov 18 2012: I don't think we need to train our intuition.
    We need to train ourselves into listening to it, hearing/feeling/sensing it, and then acting on it.
    The moment one slips into their thinking they have lost contact with it and the essence of who they are.
    They have 'fallen'.
    The moment they "drop" into their intuition and act upon it is the "Moment of Ascension" of the human spirit/psyche or whatever the hell it/we are.
    I believe many don't trust or use their intuition mainly from being taught not to!
    This is horrendous for several reasons. One, all the answers are in each person. All knowledge of all things is in each one of us and the key is only to remember. I personally have experienced this throughout my life.
    Two, when we are born, we are at one with our senses but we lack experience in order to learn how to hear/feel/sense/trust and act upon them. That is what they are for. Our connection back to them, or their speaking to us, is our intuition.
    When children are lied to in their early years I believe this causes a split in their psyche because though on some level, they "sense and know" something is not right, they go along because some messed up adult is telling them it is okay. A lie, so they "split" and begin not trusting themselves because our senses are so close and important to us, that we now begin not trusting ourselves. Thus, we sense the right move, the right idea, the thing to do, or say or how to respond to whatever is going on, and in that split second, we move into our thinking and then we have doubt about what we just "knew".
    This beginning is the beginning of mental illness in the human, first as children.
    An animal that cannot trust its own instincts (intuition), will perish quickly by the action of a predator.
    A human that cannot or does not trust its own instincts, will go insane.
    Mental illness in America is now beginning at age 11. Half the population is mentally ill and it is spreading.
    Brainwashing is lying to people over and over again.
    • Nov 18 2012: I think we can train our intuition (at least this seems to be the case from personal experience) to be a more effective tool for research in science and chess.

      Through the advances in science logic and reason have risen to the fore; we have lost sight of the fact that the "best" science makes sense to our intuition. Take geology for example. Plate tectonics has told us of the incremental changes in the planet i.e. that catastrophism plays a minimal role. Now we know that asteroid impact and massive volcanism can change the planet abruptly so the simple model of incremental change has to be modified to fit the data.

      Our intuition about the planet is useful in broad terms but fails to address the fundamental fact that efficiency is best accomplished through episodicity. This is what my intuition tells me i.e. that the planet is an engine designed to reject heat and that episodicity is the best way to accomplish this which is largely intuitive on my part but runs counter to the prevailing model of plate tectonics. Whether or not this gains general acceptance remains to be seen.

      As far as the lying creating a split in our pysche is an interesting idea and I fully agree with you that we need to listen to our intuition more and rely on the absolutism of logic and reason less.

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