Tag Archives: Intuition

Data Mining Your Own Intuition — Revisited

Originally posted February 17, 2015

Have you ever had an intuition?

You are the HEARER of your Thoughts

Intuition is when an idea pops into your head fully formed without being preceded by a step-by- step logical chain. These intuitions may come to you with “cognitive elements” usually in the form of a feeling. You understand the meaning of your thoughts and what it is you are saying to yourself, without having heard words spelling it out. Although often there may be no image that you can see in your mind, in heightened states of consciousness you may be able to see an image tied to this intuition.

These ideas flash into our mind and usually flash right out again unless we have a strong and abiding mental intention to pay attention to and remember their content. Without such conscious intention, we probably won’t even notice these fleeting intuitions. They are a subtle guidance system that does not speak loudly in our mind.

Dan Goleman points out that at least some of these feelings — the ones we call “gut feelings” — are called that because we sense they are somehow coming from our gut, which is accurate because the part of the brain from which these intuitions come (the basal ganglia) is also associated with the nerve connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal system. These intuitions are really the net guidance stored from our experiences in the form of summary action implications that tell us the way we are going either worked or failed in the past.

By contrast, the ego voices that dominate most of our mind at most times are loud, strident and salient. These ego voices are the thoughts, inner dialog, and feelings that are linked to our base motivations. We are pulled around by our negative fears and anger reactions to events around us when we feel our livelihoods and social standing are at stake and sense at any moment something can be taken away from us. The ego is also stressed out due to Acceleritis™ (Information Overload), thus exacerbating its own predisposition to worry.

As a result of this inner competition for attention and the fact that most of our attention at nearly all times is cast outwards not inwards, we don’t even catch these intuitions in the first place.

If we do catch the intuition, it is generally not heeded because of the jumble of subsequent louder thoughts giving us impulses to verbally fight, complain, argue, dismiss, or otherwise rain on whatever it was that somebody just said that may have triggered the intuition.

How to Use Your Intuition More Effectively

This is a testable hypothesis — try this:

Start a program of paying attention to your own hunches and look for them to arise. When they do, put off the other business that seems so important to the ego and everyday mind, and focus on what your intuition just told you. Make sure you remember the content by either writing it down or forming a keyword, key phrase or key image that will serve as a retrieval mechanism to bring back the whole content of the idea.

Then at an appropriate time in whatever is happening, tentatively see if the application of that intuitive idea seems to contribute anything to the situation taking place around you. Do this instead of — or at least before — offering the people around you any of the subsequent jumble of thoughts that came after the intuition.

On the other hand, you might see what the intuition is and realize that although triggered by the current situation, it really applies to another situation. Then wait to tentatively apply the hunch until you are in the other situation. In this case also resist the tendency to edit that first flash — though using diplomatic language is always a good idea so long as you do not distort the original idea.

Sometimes the intuition gives us not the right strategy but rather a strategy that although wrong will lead to the right answer, one that might not be reached other than through considering this wrong answer. Socrates appeared to know this — he flowed with his intuitions yet by phrasing the ideas as questions he protected himself against error.

Most often our mental process is to speed past the intuitive event and come up with some other strategy for dealing with the present situation. If we even retain memory of the hunch, our tendency is to later edit and “improve” upon it, which often has the opposite effect. Based on my experience, stick with the way it appeared in the beginning — the odds favor this being the successful course of action.

Best to all,

Bill

Read the latest post at my media blog  “In Terms of ROI“ at MediaVillage.com.

Data Mining Your Own Intuition

Volume 3, Issue 20

Intuition is when an idea (usually in the form of a feeling with cognitive elements embedded in it) pops into your head fully formed without being preceded by a step-by-step logical chain. These “cognitive elements” equate to meaning; that is, you know and comprehend the content of what it is you are saying to yourself. You know this without having heard words spelling it out and there is usually no image that you can see in your mind — although in heightened states of consciousness you may be able to see an image tied to this intuition.

Dan Goleman points out that at least some of these feelings — the ones we call “gut feelings” — are called that because we sense they are somehow coming from our gut, which is accurate because the part of the brain from which these intuitions come (the basal ganglia) is also associated with the nerve connections between the brain and the gastrointestinal system. These intuitions are really the net guidance stored from our experiences in the form of summary action implications that tell us the way we are going either worked or failed in the past.

These gut feelings are not the totality of the intuition but a subset of the intuition. Other intuitive packets come to us from other parts of the brain and some may not be directly traceable to our experiences in this life.

These ideas flash into our mind and usually flash right out again unless we have a strong and abiding mental intention to pay attention to and remember their content. Without such conscious intention, we probably won’t even notice these fleeting intuitions. They are a subtle guidance system that does not speak loudly in our mind.

By contrast, the ego voices that dominate most of our mind at most times are loud, strident and salient. These ego voices are the thoughts, inner dialog, and feelings that are linked to our base motivations. We are pulled around by our negative fears and anger reactions to events around us that we are attached to because we feel our livelihoods and social standing are at stake and at any moment something can be taken away from us. The ego is stressed out due to Acceleritis (Information Overload) on top of and thus exacerbating its own predisposition to worry. As a result of this inner competition for attention and the fact that most of our attention is at nearly all times cast outwards not inwards causes us to not even catch these intuitions in the first place.

If we do catch the event it is generally not heeded because of the jumble of subsequent louder thoughts giving us impulses to verbally fight, complain, argue, dismiss, or otherwise rain on whatever it was that somebody just said that may have triggered the intuition.

This is a testable hypothesis — you can experiment with the following to see whether it is the good advice I think it is, or not:

Start a program of paying attention to your own hunches and look for them to arise. When they do, put off the other business that seems so important to the ego and commonplace mind, and focus on what your intuition just told you. Make sure you remember the content by either writing it down or forming a keyword or key phrase or key image that will serve as a retrieval mechanism to bring back the whole content of the idea.

Then at an appropriate time in the proceedings taking place around you, if any, tentatively see if the application of that intuitive idea seems to contribute anything to the situation or not. Do this instead of — or at least before — offering any of the subsequent jumble of thoughts that came after the intuition to the company around you.

This is the reverse of the commonplace mind’s procedure, which is to speed past the intuitive event and come up with some other strategy for dealing with the present situation. Or even if we retain memory of the hunch our tendency is to edit and “improve” upon it, which often has the opposite effect. Stick with the way it appeared in the beginning — based on my experience, the odds favor this being the successful course of action.

On the other hand, you might see what the intuition is and realize that although triggered by the current situation, it really applies to another situation. You would then wait to tentatively apply the hunch until you are in the situation to which it refers. In this case also resist the tendency to edit that first flash — though using diplomatic language is always a good idea so long as you do not distort the original idea.

Sometimes the intuition gives us not the right answer but an answer that is wrong but which will lead to the right answer, one that might not be reached other than through this wrong answer. Socrates appeared to know this — he flowed with his intuitions yet by phrasing the ideas as questions he protected himself against error.

More on the complexity of intuition and its optimization in upcoming posts.

Happy Independence Day to all!

Bill 

Follow my regular blog contribution at Jack Myers Media Network: In Terms of ROI. It is in the free section of the website at  Bill Harvey at MediaBizBloggers.com.

What Is The Highest Good?

Volume 2, Issue 13

As a philosophy major I learned to say “The Highest Good” in Latin: Summum Bonum. I had begun philosophizing as a toddler about the same subject, vaguely noting that my inarticulate intuition could not accept anything I was told as an absolute, even from those two beloved gods Ned and Sandy (my parents). Without innate acceptance of authority as absolute I was required to develop my own ideas, which uncorked a lifelong case of idearrhea. (Just kidding.)

What is the “singular and most ultimate end human beings ought to pursue”? The word “ought” is a marker that indicates one is being slipped an assumption of necessary morality, rendering the question a loaded one. Kant believed that the universe “ought” to contain God to reward the Good. Christian thought is that one “ought” to live in communion with God and according to God’s precepts. In such schools of thought, one assumes the intuition of the elders to be the last word when it comes to interpreting God’s precepts. Other schools “believe” that one is required to be one’s own interpreter of the Will of God.

Before receiving my degree I had developed my own “philosophy”. The ideas had jumbled natively in my mind before formal study enabled scholastic order if not rigor. I decided to choose aesthetics as my touchstone to the Summum Bonum, to allow my own aesthetic preferences to determine what for me would be The Highest Good. With or without God, what did I decide/intuit/feel to be the most beautiful way to handle each moment? And of God, which would be a more beautiful universe — the one with or without God? In that way I decided which hypotheses I would base my life upon. This was my rational mind, ever forgetting that the intuition is the boss of the rational mind, which dutifully articulates whatever the intuition has already decided. In EOP the robot masquerades as the intuition so convincingly that our mind is hijacked, to use Dan Goleman’s term.

My own definition of intuition is the ability to sense what is going on, to make connections and put things together, leaping across the intervening logical steps that remain to be identified by the rational mind in its quest to rationalize what the intuition already told us. Sometimes someone asks me why I did something and it takes a while to provide an adequate answer. This makes me an intuitionist in the Jungian scheme of four functions of consciousness, identified as the rational mind (thinking), intuition (cognitive feeling), feelings (bodily emotion), and perception.

Being many “-ists”, including a pragmatist, The Highest Good to me is the best conscious approach to any situation, which I see as love — omnidirectional, unconditional, and nonattached love. Such love creates the greatest long-term happiness for the greatest number, which I find aesthetically pleasing.

“Why nonattached?” one might ask. Nonattached would seem to neuter love and to make it bland and vapid. Not our intended meaning. I was using (as I usually do) the word “attached” in the Buddhist sense, which is the same as the Greek Stoic sense as in the Enchiridion of Epictetus. Where it means the losability of the things one is fond of, and thus freedom from addictive dependence upon the objects of our affection. There is utility in losability because the things that shove us down into EOP are our attachments — the ones our gut does not consider losable.

The intuition is not immune to learning from the rational mind — the intuition evolves and is not simply a static animal instinct (we have those too). But the intuition is not the part that becomes addictively attached; it’s the robot, aka ego. The ego is not our true self because our true self is the totality of everything we are and the ego is just a part of that.

What is The Highest Good to you?

Best to all,

Bill

David Brooks the Star of ARF AMS 6.0

I really enjoyed the Advertising Research Foundation’s Audience Measurement Symposium 6.0, the largest audience measurement conference in the world. I always do — and this time, with my own papers co-presented there, and David Brooks’ keynote, it was better than ever.

Best-selling author and well-known columnist for The New York Times, David eloquently summarized some of the key learning from his new book The Social Animal.

Because David is talking about psychotechnology, which is the work we have done for years at the Human Effectiveness Institute, I was thrilled that such an important public figure and best-selling author is now calling attention to this crucial area.

David of course does not use our terminology. He talks about reviewing our cognitive processes, thinking about how we think, and making improvements in those processes. He is tapping into the latest brain science and popularizing the learning so that it is accessible and valuable to the entire culture not just to brain scientists. This is a very worthy activity. He joins us in this, with the kind of immediate impact we hoped someone would have someday. That day is here.

First he talked about the unconscious/subconscious part of our minds. He pointed out that only 40 bits of the 12,000,000 bits of info entering our brains each second reach conscious attention — the rest goes into the unconscious mind.

He went on to say that emotion — rather than being a flaw as it has been characterized tacitly by this rational culture* — is not in fact a flaw. Emotion is the foundation of reason, because it determines what we value and then reason is a means we use to go after what we value.

Here we differ slightly — emotion and intuition together actually are the foundation for our perception of what is valuable to us. As Jung pointed out, emotion and intuition are actually two different functions — two of the four functions of consciousness (intellect/reason, feelings/emotion**, intuition and perception).

The Human Effectiveness Institute (THEI) considers intuition to be an important part of our minds that has been relatively ignored by the scientific community. THEI also aims to improve people’s performance and their lives by focusing on what works in a pragmatic manner. We have observed that when one gives mental management advice, it is very easy for people to take it the wrong way and then more harm is done than good. The exact wording is mission critical. I am guessing that David knows all this and could not pack it all into one short speech.

If you tell people that emotion is the foundation they are likely to take it that they should simply follow their feelings. People leaving the ARF conference for example could have this as one of their takeaways from David’s talk. However, following one’s feelings as the Rubicon without some balancing rules as regards what to do about reason, intuition and perceptions often has disastrous consequences. In fact when emotion is negative and there is no cognitive tool for processing out the negativity before action, it always leads to disaster of small or large kinds. We welcome the opportunity to explore this further with David. Meanwhile, I am enjoying his book.

In the next posting we will continue to report on David Brooks’ incredibly valuable contributions to our culture, and will continue to point out how we feel his ideas could be sharpened to be even more positively effective.

Best to all,

Bill

 

*We would add that this bias began in Greece in the Golden Age, circa 400 BC.

**In recent psychology parlance, emotion is actually the physical manifestation of feelings (heart rate, breathing rate, adrenalin concentration in the bloodstream, etc.) so when discussing consciousness/mind, the more appropriate term is feelings rather than emotion — but this is just semantics.