söndag 21 december 2014

Why you should keep an open mind about everything - and how to exploit intuition, auras and pros/cons lists

A is A, evidence is evidence and intuition is real and important

Intuition, that illusive sixth sense that women are said to possess, is really nothing more than your subconscious drawing conclusions from a million little things that your conscious self is incapable of handling. You could call it s a kind of informed prejudice or snap judgement.

The brain deals with a hundred megabits per second of input data from the environment (nerve cells in the skin, eardrum, nose, tongue, eyes handle a million times more information than the conscious self would ever have time to handle). Your conscious self can barely judge 7 different items of information simultaneously.

Certain combinations of the deluge of information stimuli appear right before, e.g., an attack or a storm or a mating possibility. That "spider sense" made sure our ancestors lived to be, well... our ancestors. Most modern people, however, have become so civilized that this combinatory sixth sense, intuition, has faded away. We don't pay attention to intuition, we don't heed its signals, and we even actively dismiss it.

Some people, who first have become very proficient in their field, later learn to trust their intuition instead of mechanically trying to make calculated decisions. Once they realize intuition usually works better than formal decision processes, they trust their intuition more and more. Successful business leaders, portfolio managers, writers and even scientists claim to use their "gut feeling" for important decisions (but before starting a nuclear war or going all-in on something else, make a Sanity Check first, and cross off items from a check list to refrain from really stupid decisions).


People with synesthesia can hear color, smell music and even see personalities and moods

Even very intuitive people still can't see "auras" though.

But some people can.

There is a rare condition called synesthesiawhere different senses have crossed wires and enable smelling colors, seeing sound and experiencing music as colors etc. Some of these people have crossed wires between sight and the combinatory sense of intuition and actually see "auras". They still need to work on understanding what they are seeing; the auras don't come with tags. However, they do see auras, that can be interpreted as the combination of signals that your subconscious detects.

Fun fact: Lexical Gustatory Synesthesia means words can stimulate taste, e.g., the word "basketball" may taste like waffles. Imagine reading a word that tastes like your favorite snack over and over again

Fan fact 2: Nikola Tesla and Richard Feynman were synesthetes


Auras for the future, but intuition for today

In the future, when we start merging our brains with implanted AI, I am sure we all can learn to experience auras, not to mention higher order sensations (see bullet 4.e. here) that today make as much sense as thinking about a fourth or fifth dimension.

Until then, you can train your simple intuition, try making snap judgements on the small things in life. Then pause and double check with yourself to see if you really agree. It's a bit similar to playing rorscach on your own. Or being the dice man. What do you want for dinner, what movie do you want to see, which client should you call first, should you ask for a raise today? Is that person angry/happy/sad/introverted/mean/kind/extroverted/...? How much does this apple weigh, how many marbles are there in that jar?

In middle school, I won several guessing competitions where I simply let my intuition completely loose and "not even tried" an intelligent guess. I simply glanced once at the mountain of small objects, said the first ridiculous number that popped up, such as 1462 or 175, and usually won. Since then I have tried honing this "power" and learning when to use it and when not to, when it can be trusted alone and when it needs help by the structured, conscious self.


Making decisions is about finding the one, single, important factor

I sometimes make lists of pros/cons ahead of important decisions.

I don't, however, weigh the variables or count them, I only use the listing process to clear my mind of all variables, until I see the only one that matters or realize which one it is.

It's almost always just one single variable that stands out and dwarfs all other (more about that here). It might not even be a tangible variable but something as vague as "because I feel like it". I have yet to regret a decision, and I think I owe it to being both structured and precise as well as letting intuition be the final arbiter.


1. Trust yourself
2. Keep an open mind. Some things that may seem supernatural are just ...natural

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