Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Redeveloping Intuition

One of the most influential social scientists of the 20th century, Herbert Simon, made an in depth study of intuition. He breaks it down as follows: "The situation has provided a cue; this cue has given the expert access to information stored in memory, and the information provides the answer. Intuition is nothing more and nothing less than recognition."

Think of a chess master glancing at a chessboard in play and intuiting what the next play should be - information input and immediate response. This reaction has come from years of practice and pattern-recognition. My own intuition of how to behave in water comes from years spent in pools as a child; certain actions just come naturally. Likewise, the years spent memorizing and reading the publications of TFI, and being immersed in that society and mindset, have not been without their effect.

Someone's whose "gut reaction" tells them to make a certain decision is relying on what quickly comes to his mind. He doesn't consciously understand why he feels the decision is "right," but surely something in his subconscious is affecting his feelings.

More close to home, my certainty that the decision to join and remain in the COG was uncontested. Obviously, such intuitions should be questioned.

Of course, for physical tasks, such as sports, chess, etc., there is not necessarily a danger, and much to be gained, from following intuition. That's what practice is all about and what intuition is for - quick and correct reactions. If a tennis player had to consciously think about how to go about hitting the ball coming at him, he would never hit it. He has to rely on his intuitive senses.

On the other hand, for important decision-making, personal interactions with others, etc., there is great potential danger in relying on immediate emotional responses and initial "intuitive" reactions. I see now that it is crucial to think more deeply on such matters and consciously put aside my initial "gut feelings."

Knowing when using intuition is needed and when it is best to stop an think things through is one of the challenges of life. The instinct to impart more value and truth to things that readily come to mind is just one perilous and important human weakness to be aware of. I hope, that as my years out of the cult grow, I am building a new framework for my intuition of knowledge, mental patterns, and experiences.

"People's confidence in a belief [can be traced] to two related impressions: cognitive ease and coherence... but ease and coherence do not guarantee that a belief held with confidence is true." Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow   

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