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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 24 2012: I think we need first come to an agreed consensus on the definition on what intuition is. Is it an emotional thought, an intellectual thought, conscious or subconscious; is it learned or innate? Is intuition six sense? Do other animals have it or just the human species? Do every human have it, or just a few? Is a form of intuition thinking at its optimum state? I have not yet definitively defined it. I have not yet determined whether it is the culmination of all my harbored knowledge, experiences, and emotions operating in a post heighten state or it is something in the paranormal as an added gift in the gene, like artistic skills. Is intuition a formulated projection of personal knowledge or it is an external energy/force like the wind that comes at you through powers that are beyond your control? You pose methods to "train" and develop intuition; base on this effort you must have an understanding on what intuition is. I like to hear your concept.
    • Nov 24 2012: Intuition to me is a "knowing" without knowing how or why. A good illustration of this in chess is players have what they call the "hand". When a player is in a zone, his "hand" moves the pieces without the player actually "thinking" about his moves. When this happens to me, I go from mediocre to World Class in minutes. When this happens, I don't think, I just place my pieces and pawns on the squares where they belong.

      This is what you mean by a heightened state of awareness---in Eastern Religions this is a highly desirable state of mind.

      As far as paranormal---yes, to me it is paranormal because I have witnessed the violation of physical laws when a weak computer played beyond world class level for an entire game at blitz speed. This is no more remarkable than tuning up the engine on a VW bug and having it turn out laps of 250 mph.

      Some of intuition is learned some is innate (key social skill differences between men and women would be viewed by many post members as innate from bygone eras when we were cave men and women). The learned part is when we receive some stimulus that gets buried deep within our brains. When we dream we rearrange this material into new associations that may elude us during waking hours. So some intuition clearly is based on experience and is not innate.

      Some intuition if we try to pin it down merges with logic i.e. we can deduce a logical train of thought that starts out as an intuitive insight. Where intuition has received a negative connotation is when it is linked with emotion. While many emotional states may be intuitive, many intuitive states are not emotional.

      "Gifts" in the genes is an interesting phrase and clearly in the field of child prodigies is well displayed. What precisely is going on in those genes is unclear. Can wisdom acquired in one generation be learned in another generation without recourse to conscious teaching?

      Probably each of us has intuition, just some people rely on it; others rely on logic.

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