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    Contributor Speakpigeon's Avatar
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    Intuition: How does it work exactly?

    Well, obviously, nobody really knows.

    Still, as I see it, intuition works from a database of notions that the brain has previously integrated. The database is essentially what you've learnt through your life since birth. However, it's not knowledge as such. Rather, it's what you've learnt, which may well be bullshit.

    When you're interested in a problem, the key point to let your intuition come into play, is to give your brain the time to integrate the new data. So, a good idea is to work for example two hours a day on this problem, so that your brain takes in the stuff and has the time to "integrate" the new information.

    Another key point, is to diversify the points of view, the kind of data relative to the problem, because brains are really champions to establish correlations between apparently unrelated sets of data.

    A third key point, is to articulate whatever ideas you've got so far. Your brain will also work on that, given the time to do it.

    Intuition is probably the only intelligence we have. When we think, we toy with bits and ends literally without knowing what we're doing. It's only our intuition that will come into play to tell us that this bit and that end have to do with each other.

    Thus, our unconscious brain is probably more intelligent than our conscious mind. It's clear for example that when you're trying to solve a problem, your brain may find the solution perhaps several days before you. And it will give you the solution through intuition, i.e. you're thinking about a problem and there it is, you suddenly have the intuition something you're thinking is the answer. Sometimes the brain may have the solution, or part of the solution, years before you finally get round to it, if you ever do.

    A last point perhaps... Intuition is not just some idea that pops up in your mind as most people seem to believe. Intuition is really your brain insisting on telling you that something is the case or is true or is the solution. It tells you you should really pay attention to this one. If you feel that both A and not A are both possibilities, then neither is an intuition.

    Still, remember your intuition works on whatever you've learnt, and this may actually be complete bullshit. So, perhaps another key point is to keep an open mind and resist dogmatism. Whatever pet theory you're working on, remember it may well be trash. It's still best to stand your ground as most people do, but that shouldn't prevent you from considering the possible value of the arguments other people put forward. Let your brain sort out which is true. This is the only fountain of truth you can trust you will ever have. You just need to give it the time to work its magic and to consider and learn the possibly relevant facts.
    EB
    Last edited by Speakpigeon; 04-04-2019 at 11:42 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Still, as I see it, intuition works from a database of notions that the brain has previously integrated. The database is essentially what you've learnt through your life since birth. However, it's not knowledge as such. Rather, it's what you've learnt, which may well be bullshit.
    I think you're pretty much on point here.

    Intuition and prejudice (pre-judging) are likely interrelated. We encounter a situation and our brain has a mechanism to measure it up quickly based on our past experience / knowledge in case we need to make a quick decision. This (and long-term memory itself) allows us to make important decisions quickly based on limited information.

    Thus, our unconscious brain is probably more intelligent than our conscious mind. It's clear for example that when you're trying to solve a problem, your brain may find the solution perhaps several days before you. And it will give you the solution through intuition, i.e. you're thinking about a problem and there it is, you suddenly have the intuition something you're thinking is the answer. Sometimes the brain may have the solution, or part of the solution, years before you finally get round to it, if you ever do
    This sounds like a false dichotomy to me.

    The unconscious and conscious mind have different functions (physiologically there would be no reason for them to do the same thing). The unconscious exists so we can act quickly based on pre-existing information, the conscious exists so we can direct our attention to our own knowledge and form it, along with new experiences, into new long-term memories to be used by the unconscious.

    The unconscious may seem smarter, but it doesn't always have the answers, which is when the conscious would come into play. When our intuitions are strong enough this means we have wisdom, and the conscious isn't needed. But when our intuitions are weak the conscious needs to flail around until an answer is found.

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    I agree that the conscious mind is needed to help undo the bias of the unconscious. Your brain will have a conclusion long before you do, but it should be viewed with deliberation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea View Post
    I agree that the conscious mind is needed to help undo the bias of the unconscious. Your brain will have a conclusion long before you do, but it should be viewed with deliberation.
    That is true, although I didn't intend to look at prejudice in a negative sense, but rather just in the neutral 'pre-judging' aka 'judge before engaging conscious mind' sense. In that frame of reference it's the 'bias' that's keeping us alive. Your judgement may be incomplete, but overthinking it might get you eaten by the tiger.

    But yea, if you have systemic, uninformed prejudices they are probably worth visiting with the conscious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rhea View Post
    I agree that the conscious mind is needed to help undo the bias of the unconscious. Your brain will have a conclusion long before you do, but it should be viewed with deliberation.
    OK. So, how would the conscious go about it? Why would it even see an intuition as wrong to begin with? Do you think people routinely challenge their prejudices? How do that happens?
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Intuition and prejudice (pre-judging) are likely interrelated. We encounter a situation and our brain has a mechanism to measure it up quickly based on our past experience / knowledge in case we need to make a quick decision. This (and long-term memory itself) allows us to make important decisions quickly based on limited information.
    Limited information? Not quite. If most of our intuition is based on experience, then acting on our intuition is acting on the basis of a lot of information. As I see it, much more information than we could possibly process in the short time of a quick decision. So, it's not so much the quantity of information that's limited but the time in which we may be required to decide what to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Thus, our unconscious brain is probably more intelligent than our conscious mind. It's clear for example that when you're trying to solve a problem, your brain may find the solution perhaps several days before you. And it will give you the solution through intuition, i.e. you're thinking about a problem and there it is, you suddenly have the intuition something you're thinking is the answer. Sometimes the brain may have the solution, or part of the solution, years before you finally get round to it, if you ever do
    This sounds like a false dichotomy to me.

    The unconscious and conscious mind have different functions (physiologically there would be no reason for them to do the same thing). The unconscious exists so we can act quickly based on pre-existing information, the conscious exists so we can direct our attention to our own knowledge and form it, along with new experiences, into new long-term memories to be used by the unconscious.

    The unconscious may seem smarter, but it doesn't always have the answers, which is when the conscious would come into play. When our intuitions are strong enough this means we have wisdom, and the conscious isn't needed. But when our intuitions are weak the conscious needs to flail around until an answer is found.
    As I see it, if your intuition doesn't have the answer, no amount of thinking will get you one. Instead, you'll have to find more relevant information and then think about that. But then, just being presented with and thinking about this new information won't be enough. You need to let the new information sink in so that a new intuition could form. The conscious mind seems to be essentially the linguistic sub-routine of your unconscious mind. It is its most effective means for communicating with people in the world outside your head. Effective in particular because, through other people, it gives our brain an access to formal knowledge. And there would be no other channel. So basically, all our abstract ideas either come from our intuition or from other people. We are the thing in between. Like the middle man with extortionist tariffs you can't get rid of.
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post

    Limited information? Not quite. If most of our intuition is based on experience, then acting on our intuition is acting on the basis of a lot of information. As I see it, much more information than we could possibly process in the short time of a quick decision. So, it's not so much the quantity of information that's limited but the time in which we may be required to decide what to do.
    The time that we're required to make a decision is what limits the information. Because we don't have time to gather data we have to make our best guess quickly, which is where our intuition our unconscious would come into play.

    As an aside, with this in mind you would also expect our instinct and deepest neural systems to be oriented to avoid danger, by doing stuff like noticing biological movement, and avoiding things that are unlike us. We can run away from something 1000 times in delusion and still be alive. But the one time we don't is what's going to get us killed.

    As I see it, if your intuition doesn't have the answer, no amount of thinking will get you one. Instead, you'll have to find more relevant information and then think about that. But then, just being presented with and thinking about this new information won't be enough. You need to let the new information sink in so that a new intuition could form. The conscious mind seems to be essentially the linguistic sub-routine of your unconscious mind. It is its most effective means for communicating with people in the world outside your head. Effective in particular because, through other people, it gives our brain an access to formal knowledge. And there would be no other channel. So basically, all our abstract ideas either come from our intuition or from other people. We are the thing in between. Like the middle man with extortionist tariffs you can't get rid of.
    EB
    Yea this is along the lines of what I was saying.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Limited information? Not quite. If most of our intuition is based on experience, then acting on our intuition is acting on the basis of a lot of information. As I see it, much more information than we could possibly process in the short time of a quick decision. So, it's not so much the quantity of information that's limited but the time in which we may be required to decide what to do.
    The time that we're required to make a decision is what limits the information. Because we don't have time to gather data we have to make our best guess quickly, which is where our intuition our unconscious would come into play.

    As an aside, with this in mind you would also expect our instinct and deepest neural systems to be oriented to avoid danger, by doing stuff like noticing biological movement, and avoiding things that are unlike us. We can run away from something 1000 times in delusion and still be alive. But the one time we don't is what's going to get us killed.
    There's quite a bit beyond this. The information stored in our unconscious mind isn't a record bit for bit. The brain integrates the information and this takes time. Learning doesn't happen in a day. It goes on and on and on, and like this since your birth. It would be impossible to store all this information as is. Instead, what the brain does is build a particular kind of abstract model, a model that keeps evolving as you learn more about the real world.

    Quote Originally Posted by rousseau View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    As I see it, if your intuition doesn't have the answer, no amount of thinking will get you one. Instead, you'll have to find more relevant information and then think about that. But then, just being presented with and thinking about this new information won't be enough. You need to let the new information sink in so that a new intuition could form. The conscious mind seems to be essentially the linguistic sub-routine of your unconscious mind. It is its most effective means for communicating with people in the world outside your head. Effective in particular because, through other people, it gives our brain an access to formal knowledge. And there would be no other channel. So basically, all our abstract ideas either come from our intuition or from other people. We are the thing in between. Like the middle man with extortionist tariffs you can't get rid of.
    Yea this is along the lines of what I was saying.
    OK.
    EB

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    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Well, obviously, nobody really knows.

    Still, as I see it, intuition works from a database of notions that the brain has previously integrated. The database is essentially what you've learnt through your life since birth. However, it's not knowledge as such. Rather, it's what you've learnt, which may well be bullshit.
    Our memories aren't stored in a database. It's a complete mystery how memories are stored.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    When you're interested in a problem, the key point to let your intuition come into play, is to give your brain the time to integrate the new data. So, a good idea is to work for example two hours a day on this problem, so that your brain takes in the stuff and has the time to "integrate" the new information.

    Another key point, is to diversify the points of view, the kind of data relative to the problem, because brains are really champions to establish correlations between apparently unrelated sets of data.

    A third key point, is to articulate whatever ideas you've got so far. Your brain will also work on that, given the time to do it.

    Intuition is probably the only intelligence we have. When we think, we toy with bits and ends literally without knowing what we're doing. It's only our intuition that will come into play to tell us that this bit and that end have to do with each other.
    This is awfully confused. I see loads of errors in how you define this.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

    I recommend reading Daniel Khaneman's, Thinking fast and slow. Because there's so much confusion about how we think and neurology and the terminology, he just calls it the fast and slow thinking systems.

    Our intuition is the fast system. The fast system takes in less information. It uses more stereotypes and old patterns. The reason why we think our intuition is more creative and free thinking is because we make more errors. Unless it's something we've done a million times. In which case our intuition (the fast system) can be more accurate than our slow system. It comes into play if you're a good driver and in an accident, the fast system can kick in and take over and save you. But this is a very special kind of intuition.

    The slow system gets things right, much more. It's also the system we have to employ when learning new things. Our fast system sucks balls for learning anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Thus, our unconscious brain is probably more intelligent than our conscious mind. It's clear for example that when you're trying to solve a problem, your brain may find the solution perhaps several days before you. And it will give you the solution through intuition, i.e. you're thinking about a problem and there it is, you suddenly have the intuition something you're thinking is the answer. Sometimes the brain may have the solution, or part of the solution, years before you finally get round to it, if you ever do.
    Your conscious mind does no thinking at all. That's not what the consciousness is for. So this statement makes no sense. Perhaps you mean the slow system of thinking?

    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    A last point perhaps... Intuition is not just some idea that pops up in your mind as most people seem to believe. Intuition is really your brain insisting on telling you that something is the case or is true or is the solution. It tells you you should really pay attention to this one. If you feel that both A and not A are both possibilities, then neither is an intuition.

    Still, remember your intuition works on whatever you've learnt, and this may actually be complete bullshit. So, perhaps another key point is to keep an open mind and resist dogmatism. Whatever pet theory you're working on, remember it may well be trash. It's still best to stand your ground as most people do, but that shouldn't prevent you from considering the possible value of the arguments other people put forward. Let your brain sort out which is true. This is the only fountain of truth you can trust you will ever have. You just need to give it the time to work its magic and to consider and learn the possibly relevant facts.
    EB
    This raises the question, how do you know all this? It's not like you can just introspect and figure this shit out on your own. Without experiments, double blind studies and so on you have no clue. It looks to me like it's all stuff you just figured out on your own. Is it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    Our memories aren't stored in a database.
    database
    n
    1. (Computer Science) a systematized collection of data that can be accessed immediately and manipulated by a data-processing system for a specific purpose
    2. (Communications & Information) informal any large store of information: a database of knowledge.
    Bad hair day?

    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    This is awfully confused. I see loads of errors in how you define this.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thinking,_Fast_and_Slow

    I recommend reading Daniel Khaneman's, Thinking fast and slow. Because there's so much confusion about how we think and neurology and the terminology, he just calls it the fast and slow thinking systems.
    How would that clear up the confusion? Most items in the list he provides according to your own link can be done by both intuition and thinking. The list in itself is rather misleading, confusing and contains mistakes. And yet I have to assume you agree with it.

    He asserts that the "fast system" solves 2+2 and the slow one solves 17 × 24... Does that mean the man believes you can't train yourself to solve 17 × 24?!

    He says digging into your memory to recognise a sound is something the slow system would do. Well, it can sure do it but intuition does it to and faster. So? where's the difference? If you could explain...

    Come up with a good chess move (if you're a chess master)... Yes. So? Can you explain where this bit would show my "error" or my "awful confusion"? If you could explain...

    And there's also a really big factual mistake: determine the validity of a complex logical reasoning (slow system). That's only true of complicated logical reasoning, such as found in mathematical proofs. As to complex logical relations, logical intuition beats any reasoning. Even today, mathematical logic itself couldn't validate complex relations intuition validates in a fraction of a second. Further, you could train yourself to be able to validate intuitively complicated formulas just like you can train to speak a foreign language or read a score.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    The fast system takes in less information.
    Not true.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    It uses more stereotypes and old patterns. The reason why we think our intuition is more creative and free thinking is because we make more errors. Unless it's something we've done a million times. In which case our intuition (the fast system) can be more accurate than our slow system. It comes into play if you're a good driver and in an accident, the fast system can kick in and take over and save you. But this is a very special kind of intuition. The slow system gets things right, much more. It's also the system we have to employ when learning new things. Our fast system sucks balls for learning anything.
    You don't seem to realise there aren't two systems to begin with. We only have one brain. So, since you've read the book, tell me what's the actual difference between the unconscious process that somehow produces intuition and the conscious process that does the deliberate thinking. Should be simple, you've read the book.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Speakpigeon View Post
    Thus, our unconscious brain is probably more intelligent than our conscious mind. It's clear for example that when you're trying to solve a problem, your brain may find the solution perhaps several days before you. And it will give you the solution through intuition, i.e. you're thinking about a problem and there it is, you suddenly have the intuition something you're thinking is the answer. Sometimes the brain may have the solution, or part of the solution, years before you finally get round to it, if you ever do.
    Your conscious mind does no thinking at all. That's not what the consciousness is for. So this statement makes no sense. Perhaps you mean the slow system of thinking?
    ???

    When I think in a deliberate way, I'm certainly conscious of a process and we call this process "thinking". That's all there is to it. Whether the conscious process of thinking would be in fact somehow produced by an unconscious process that's possible but we just don't know. And since thinking is obviously produced by some part of the brain, I see no reason whatsoever to assume a priori that the conscious mind plays no part in the process or not the most important part. Me, I think it does.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    This raises the question, how do you know all this? It's not like you can just introspect and figure this shit out on your own.
    Please give examples of the things these people found that I didn't mention.

    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    Without experiments, double blind studies and so on you have no clue. It looks to me like it's all stuff you just figured out on your own. Is it?
    Thinking, Fast and Slow is a best-selling book published in 2011 by Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences laureate Daniel Kahneman. It was the 2012 winner of the National Academies Communication Award for best creative work that helps the public understanding of topics in behavioral science, engineering and medicine. The book summarizes research that Kahneman conducted over decades,
    My post is also summarising research I conducted over decades. Introspection doesn't quite cover what I did but broadly yes.

    Basically, I used my intuition, and then I thought about it some.
    EB

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