The existence of female intuition and it´s less considerate counterpart male intuition, as well as an all-encompassing universal intuition is mentioned extensively in so many situations. On the contrary to the common popular defense of intuition, I believe it is still an unsolved matter. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a simple definition of intuition is:
A natural ability or power that makes it possible to know something without any proof or evidence: a feeling that guides a person to act a certain way without fully understanding why; something that is known or understood without proof or evidence.
In order to understand it, we can first distinguish the temporality of it with a simple division of three moments: Pre-event, during the event, post-event. The difference might well be that when we feel intuition towards something or someone before it happens, later, theoretically at least, we can either prove or disprove the intuitive assumption; During the event, while it occurs, we feel an intuitive thinking and we can address it in real time, verifying the truthfulness of the sensation; and after the event, when we remember the intuition we had towards the event in question and then assert it to be true or false. For those of us that are interesting in this concept of intuition, I´m sure that you heard it usually in a context where the intuitive sensation was actually asserted to be true and it helped the capable person with a certain situation and/or person.
Let´s try now to evaluate the certainty of that sensation.
Using intuition or our “gut feeling”, as It is commonly referred to, is, according to PsychologyToday, that “we think of intuition as a magical phenomenon—but hunches are formed out of our past experiences and knowledge. So while relying on gut feelings doesn’t always lead to good decisions, it’s not nearly as flighty a tactic as it may sound.”
The idea, I believe, is clear, Intuition, as it seems, can be said in the place of or with certain confusion of terms such as Empathy, Spirituality, Instincts, Judgement, Emotional intelligence and many more that have little or nothing to do with it. Hence, in my opinion, intuition, like consciousness, cognitive thinking, Free Will, and many more sensations we share, is usually an abstract feeling that provides comfort and a general sense of control and security in the interaction of a person with the surroundings (whether material or animated form). Meaning, just like when we claim that two events occurring in a relational way are a coincidence, we simply can´t analyze the unimagined amount of information that preceded the coincidence. Like Hana Estroff Marano says, intuition can be the lack of awareness, or knowledge if you wish, evoking the subconscious, whether with an impartial bias or current subconscious estimation of the situation.
Intuition is trispectivism unaware of the circumstance and I do believe many times can actually do more harm than good. For example, the way we treat other people, most of the time our defense system is preventing us from accepting the other (or Other depending on the topic), yes only when we recognize some negative aspects in the person in front of us we take credit in the sake of intuition, all other times it simply fades in the multitude of people and time. We can save that by being aware and conscious about the instinctive mechanism in us and by more thoughtful consideration of any person and situation according to the context. Admittingly, it does require much more work but in the end, I think you will agree: it´s worth it.
“How is a myth received? We must here once more come back to the duplicity of its signifier, which is at once meaning and form. I can produce three different types of reading by focusing on the one, or the other, or both at the same time.
- If I focus on an empty signifier, I let the concept fill the form of the myth without ambiguity, and I find myself before a simple system, where the signification becomes literal again: the Negro who salutes is an example of French imperiality, he is a symbol for it. This type of focusing is, for instance, that of the producer of myths, of the journalist who starts with a concept and seeks a form for it.
- If I focus on a full signifier, in which I clearly distinguish the meaning and the form, and consequently the distortion which the one imposes on the other, I undo the signification of the myth, and I receive the latter as an imposture: the saluting Negro becomes the alibi of French imperiality. This type of focusing is that of the mythologist: he deciphers the myth, he understands a distortion.
- Finally, if I focus on the mythical signifier as on an inextricable whole made of meaning and form, I receive an ambiguous signification: I respond to the constituting mechanism of myth, to its own dynamics, I become a reader of myths. The saluting Negro is no longer an example or a symbol, still less an alibi: he is the very presence of French imperiality.
The first two types of focusing are static, analytical; they destroy the myth, either by making its intention obvious, or by unmasking it: the former is cynical, the latter demystifying. The third type of focusing is dynamic, it consumes the myth according to the very ends built into its structure: the reader lives the myth as a story at once true and unreal.”
[Taken from Roland Barthes, Mythologies, Selected and translated from French by Annette Lavers, The Noonday Press – NY, Farrar, Straus & Giroux p. 127.]
Well, while reading the title one would surely notice the oxymoron or irony of it. Of course happiness is an emotion, and if we eliminate emotions we´ll have no way of knowing if we are happy, certainly not to the usually aspired degree of Happiness. This is some of the contradiction people confront while thinking about rationality and emotions. I mean, if the Aristotelian Eudaimonia is the reason for our actions, then emotions should be the most relevant reason for our actions. This last deduction might frighten any reasonable being because we all know how irrational and terrifying, as well as surprising, emotions can be.
The intuitive manner we live upon can be an obstacle and here is probably where emotions can be somewhat problematic. Today, thousands of empirical and statistical experiments reveal, throughout the world, and with overwhelming conclusions, that in most situations we have no idea what we are doing. For example, we now know beyond any doubt that we are thinking in a heuristic, bias way about everything around us, while believing we are actually being far from bias about anything at all. Fear, love, hate, anxiety, nervousness, so many emotions that dictate the way we think, act, and even how our bodies react to diseases or affect our decision-making abilities. Depressed people cannot manage to estimate clearly success, reasons for different activities. Put a nasty odor in a room and see how people turn to vote more conservative and become less open to change. We, as brainy animals, see and like to share patterns everywhere. We witness them when we think about someone and then see them in the street, when we think we are having a “lucky hand” (usually when we like to taste success) and in countless other occasions.
On the other hand, who did not feel sorry of acting the way he or she did while being angry (at their partner, parent or even colleagues)? Which one of us don’t aspire to be able to always make the better choice, in business, in love, and all the way to the supermarket? We all saw and loved the movie Life of Pi, right? With so many examples of how it is nicer to simply let our emotions dictate the world around us and not dry calculation and science. But is it really true? Anyway, does ‘true’ really matter?
So many of us toy in our head with the idea of being more rational, calculated, pragmatic, but then, remembering Mr. Spock from Star Trek, we dismiss it with horror. Luckily, today, more and more scientific fields are getting together to show a harmonious existence between those two is possible and even very relevant. These new visions about life teach us not to dichotomize or generalize but to know, to understand and eventually to apply it in our lives.
Rationality through emotions! Although it might sound weird to some, it makes perfect sense. Actually, it is both rationality through emotions and vice versa, emotions through rationality. We hear quite a lot about rationality being robotic, mechanic, cold and emotions as warm, individualizing, communal. That is a common mistake for the simple reason that any person with the minor intelligence will never discard the existence of feelings in a person, even the most rational there is. Hence, the simple reality is that it´s irrational not taking emotions into account.
In the next clip there is a co-founder of an interesting center that is dedicated to those questions and more.
Here she speaks about Planning Fallacy:
Esperanto used to be (and for brave few still is) the hope for a better, happier society. Born out of the notion that language can be the bridge of cultures, understanding and peace, this language, similar to her older sister, volapuk, was created in order that everyone will be able to communicate with everyone.
So, why such a positive initiative experienced such a failure?
For that we will have to understand some facts:
– Esperanto was created in 1887 by Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof, an ophthalmologist from Białystok, and was based on the initiative to create an international auxiliary language open to all.
– Language is a very complex topic that has branches in all aspects of life. Hence, in linguistics there are many sections and subsections with different specialties that investigate this highly diverse topic. To illustrate some it is enough to mention divisions such as: socio-linguistic, phraseology, phonetics, cultural linguistic, experimental linguistics, diachronic linguistic, translation and a long et cetera.
In order for us to understand language we can use the example of a car, a cell, an ant, a star and pretty much everything that exist. For the sake of simplicity let’s pick a car. When someone drives a car there is a set of road conduct set by humans in a natural way, most of which were later explained and described in a more methodological approach as a set of traffic laws. Meaning, today we say a tree and the linguist can write an entire book about the word explaining how it came to life, why, when and what happened to it since. However, in order for that word to be understood by others, the interlocutor in question needs to have the same set of linguistic notions. Thus, the more culturally and physically in pair he will be to the speaker the more understanding they will have.
Trispectivism says that the individual All cannot exists without the universal All and has to constantly interact with it. Similarly, a word cannot exist by itself but needs to have constant interaction within and towards a language. A word will not be understood without a context (if I meet a friend and tell him “apple” and leave, he will look at me wondering if I´m ok).
Through the course of its existence, Esperanto experienced moments of great success. People from different countries understood each other while talking about simple material topics. The difficulties began when it needed to rise to the next step, meaning in more variety of conversations. When two people started to talk about abstract issues, the material epistemological understanding was no more, leaving each one to understand the abstract word according to their background. This is when the connection between the individual All and the universal All suffers a breaking point and leaves both parties in their respectful notion of mere definition. In most cases, this situation complicates even more when each one thinks she understood what the other person wanted to say according to her experience or personal notions while in reality it has nothing to do to the notion pronounced by the speaker.
When an Indian person says to a Danish one, let´s eat ‘spicy’, the latter might say yes, but if he does not know the Indian culture, he is in for a long night of pouring water on his burning tongue. And what about the word ‘marriage’ between an American and a Saudi, or even worse, when a Muslim says God, the Christian hears a Judeo-Christian God (which explains why they all say that they have the same God even though everything about what their God says differs completely). Hence, when Esperanto aspired to become international and began to cross borders, the understanding between one and his kin diminished alongside with the effectiveness of the intercommunication.
In short, emotions, as we witness in many occasions, are what bring sense to the language, but it is the person (or persons), that creates the story to contemplate upon.
In the past few years I’ve been living in Spain, where for the last 4 years you will find a large scale economic crisis. I don’t want to prolong about this unsettling issue (a theme for a future post), now I simply want to reflect about the choices and decision-making that led people abuse the system so badly that left tens if not hundreds of thousands of people penniless.
Here’s an example for I mean. Yesterday I needed to change currency from Euros to pounds, something I have done many times in the past. This time it ended up being not only different but also illuminating (after being humiliating). The thing is that I got ripped off. From all the countries I’ve visited (developing world included), the first to rip me off in exchange shop is in Oxford, UK.
As I was saying, I was looking for a place to exchange money and came across this center shop with many signs that shows the currency rate and written in large letters 0% commission. I entered, said hello, asked if it possible to change from Euros to sterling and gave 100 Euros to the teller. The amount she gave me back was lacking little more than 10 pounds. I told her she made a mistake and she said no. I insisted that there should be ten more pounds (according to the 1.27 written all over). She said that it is the commission. Confused I looked at the sign and pointed on where it was written for blind that there is no commission. Little I knew how wrong I was. In small small prints it said on the bottom to ask about the 13.6% commission. Yes, to “ask” about the commission.
I immediately understood and asked to cancel the exchange. Calmly she said there is no refund, pointing to a little plat sign hidden behind the neighboring teller booth.
To be honest it is the last place I expected to be deceived in such a way (perhaps it is the exact reason why they chose that location). I felt cheated and helpless. So this is how people do business. I asked her why she didn’t say there is such a commission and she said she cannot or she will lose her job. The reply to my next question was interesting, I asked how she can do that if she knows the person will be deceived, and she replied that she doesn’t have the luxury not to work. I have to admit that after all the weird jobs I did, this answer was not surprising yet annoying. So that was self reasoning for daily deceiving people, as if it is either deceiving or drinking alcohol watching in a sinking sofa.
Fortunately for me, I´ve been taking a Mooc class of prof. Dan Ariely from Duke University about Behavior Economics and this was a real life application of the course. Ariely talks about how the Default option actually change our way of dealing and negotiating decisions. Having that in mind I couldn´t forget those small prints saying “Please ask about our 13.6% commission”. I began thinking that if someone asks, the teller will tell him there is no commission (or less, depending on how she looks), and it they simply assume they read well the large letters saying 0% commission (without venturing to the unseen letters), she will charge them without saying anything. I went back to the shop and asked. “well – she said – it is negotiable!”. “This is wrong – I said – who can I contact?”. She gave me an email address.
I have to admit that doing Ariely’s Mooc I learned quite a lot but I never really understood the use of it until yesterday. Ariely talks about it in doing good things (as setting the default to donate organs etc.) but now I understood how it is done to legally cheat, to be dishonest in a way that all you think about in the end of the day is how much money you made. Many people choose to blame Capitalism and free market with that, I wouldn´t go that far; I think it is simply people who decide to fraud and cheat, not the tool.
For any of you who arrive to the UK, beware of this company:
28 Cornmarket Street, Oxford OX1 3EY
Lately, it seems that there is an increasing scientific curiosity about the mind and the reasons for the way we behave, think, act and perceive the world we live in. One of the latest themes where we can witness a rise in public attention and social conversation is the scientific reason for religion. While up until 40 years ago, no one could even imagine there will ever be such liberty and openness to actually research this part of our life, today both religious and non religious are cooperating to get some answers (I have to admit though, that by saying cooperating I mean most of the investigators are non-religious and the test subjects are religious).
The results are by far fascinating. We can learn so much about ourselves as the social animal, about history, anthropology, sociology and many more sciences combined. A recent study shows that religious faiths activates a network of nerves that coordinate the social communication, feelings, imagination and memory (not for all aspects). It shows that in the human brain God is perceived as another human being with thoughts, intentions and of course, feelings. The neuroscientist Alumit Ishai, professor of cognitive neuroscience in Zurich University, investigates this subject. A few years ago she studied, with the help of a MRI, what is happening in the mind of Carmelita’s nuns when they perceive a union with their God. The results were that the mystical experience caused an augmented activity in the visual cortex, the Insular cortex and the Orbitofrontal which shows us that it is not any different from another substantial excitement as emotional experience.
It is known today that gods and similar ideas were with Homo sapiens for the past 70,000 years and more. This is when they started to create variety of worship rituals, beliefs in different gods and general awe towards the unknown and unfamiliar (which of course was practically everything). This need for gods is a common interest for social psychologist, evolutionist, anthropologists and other investigators from different fields (up to philologists at times). The question is what caused that need to believe and if it had an effect on civilization, meaning, whether or not the belief helped civilization coagulate, as with skills as survival and procreation.
The more common and logical of the explanations today is based on the cognitive model of believe as a product of human mind. That, of course, explains why there is an obvious personification to any god that was ever worshiped. Religious people have the tendency to relate to the god they perceive many of the natural characterization they feel. That is to say, that other than thoughts, intentions and feelings that are common to all, each believer sees her god according to what she feels. A person who is very sensitive will normally see God as a very caring and sensitive being; another person with a temper, will perceive God as a fearful being, one that punishes and condemn etc.
This conclusion is also supported by the fact that human being tends to relate any incidence they experience to a personified existence and not to the nature of things. One example is when someone wakes up at night because of a loud noise, the first instinct it to shout “who’s there” and not “what is going on there”.
The theory of the mind is fascinating and surely one post will not be enough. Thus, in the next few weeks I will upload some more interesting studies related to this great enigma, the mind. If you are interested, you are more than welcome to propose links, ideas and even guest blogging.
S. I. Cohen
In a talk about Journalism and News Literacy*, Howard Schneider, who is the dean of the School of Journalism at Stony Brook University, shared some of his experience about the way we consume news today. I share this with you so we will begin this wonderful new 2014 with a more self aware reading and information exchange.
One of the biggest problems in the digitalized era we live in is information. There is too much information and very little screening of that information. Blogs, News reports online, TV, Facebook, Twiiter, we are flooded with information, reports and rumors that in the end of the day we are left with selected information which in many cases we pass it along.
First of all, most of us will forget the source within 72 hours. We will not be able to say where a certain information we have is originated, whether a blog, TV news, an Internet article, facebook etc. Actually, some will most likely confuse the source with a higher ranking one to give the information more credibility.
Second, we are all experiencing what today in social psychology we call Confirmation Bias, or the Sleeper effect. Meaning we have an obvious Bias toward a piece of information that will confirm our preconceived notion about life, reality, moral, valor etc. There is an interesting example with a news report that was spread on the Internet as true about a guy (a certain New York proofreader George Turklebaum) that was found dead on his desk 5 days after his time of decease. Almost all people believe it because they actually believe it can happen in their work place (“where is this world going” etc.).
There are many more disturbing facts and examples about our daily habit as to how we consume information. Here are 12 ways to be a vigilant news consumer according to Schneider:
1 – Always know what news neighborhood you´re in.
2 – In the news neighborhood differentiate the news from opinions.
3 – Follow a story over time.
4 – Evaluate sources.
5 – Always ask: did the reporter actually verified the information or is relying on rumors?
6 – On the Internet, rank and popularity do not necessarily mean credibility.
7 – Choose multiple news brands.
8 – Be open to information that challenges your own biases and assumptions.
9 – Don´t judge the news media on the basis of one news outlet or story. Don´t judge one outlet on the basis of one mistake, look for patterns.
10 – Be an aggressive news consumer. It is hard work.
11 – In the digital age, we are all distributes of information.
12 – Make time for the news.
Also, a good point is to cross reference with multiple sources. This is essential to more accurate information. Cross references, like any historical event that want to be considered as closer to the truth, is where the biases of the reporter, editor and news source get diminished (of course not completely gone). Especially when it is from different sources that are from both side of political opinion, different languages, different countries etc. Personally, I have been reading newspapers from 4 different countries in the past 3 years and I have to say that the experience is sometime incredible seeing how news is distorted to fit the newspaper political opinion.
To a well informative and aware trispectivist this process will be much easier to do, for the news is simply the interaction between the individual All and the universal All. Thus, while recognizing this constant interaction, we, as the individuals, are aware that the information we receive is how we perceive the universal, and not necessarily a good mirror of what it is really is. The more we are sure in our “certainties” and truths, the less effective the interaction with the universal will be, leading to a more biased receptors from our part (if you happen to have Trispectivism at hand, I will refer you to the part about communication in page 235).
And lastly, for a useful tool to discard rumors and myth in the Internet, Schneider offers this website?
http://snopes.com/ – the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation. Use the search box to locate your item of interest.
* Watch Schneider’s full conference – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv4YgX5udlM
HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!!!!!
This entry was posted in Confusing social perceptions, Social psychology and tagged confiramation bias, folklore, George Turklebaum, Howard Schneider, Journalism, Myths, News Literacy, news report, rumors, Social psychology, urban legends.