Why we should not trust our intuition?

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.

einstein-intuition-1068x660In 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.”

Typìcal quote about Intuition, here 

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.



12 ways to be a vigilant news consumer

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.

Obama’s co called Birth Cert. Kenya, Canada, US or Mars

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.

mires-prie-kompiuterioSecond, 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


What are friends for?

A simple question that in appearance evokes a rather simple answer, but (of course there will be a ‘but’) it seems not to be so trivial if we take under consideration different scholars’ opinion. For example, a Hegelianist will answer that friends are for reaffirming our being by recognizing our self-consciousness. A Dawkinsist will affirm that friends are for interaction in order to create an established social structure that will boost the odds for my genes to survive. A Jehovah Witness will probably say that they are the creation of God (which can say everything or absolutely nothing, depending on your views).

So, different perspectives that can easily be intertwined or on the contrary, be completely distinct from one another. Of course, these are only a small taste of the infinite possibilities. A New Age hippie might answer that friends are to help spread the endless love we and the world have to offer. A hard working broker might say something cited from somewhere but really think that a friend is to create a competition and make one-self improve skills and dare. A soldier might say that a friend is to save your life. To that last perspective, a gangster might also join as at times it seems somehow similar.


So what are friends for? The simple answer will be all of the above, each person depending on the perspective and the social role she procures to follow. There are, however, a few dilemmas that create difficulties to some and understanding to others. They are best introduced in social psychology studies as social experiments (here are about laughter and Q&A). In them we can perceive and understand the difference in the examples above. One illustration is how we divide our social network into different scales of friends when the most common will be a social configuration of about 150 people, from family (first of kin and close relatives) to friends (best, recent best, acquaintances etc.). This is why for a common person there are about 150 facebook friends that he actually know relatively well (out of which 4-8 he will chat on a more regular basis) and the rest that are for filling/feeling numbers.

Today, with the Internet networking some even claim that we passed from 6 to 4.74 degrees of separation (read here). Even though, I tend to agree that, in spite of the common saying, we are not becoming ridiculously international (nice TED talk about it here).

negotiationBe the need for social interaction as it may, one thing is for sure, friendship is necessary. If we learn anything from the different studies, as for example the prisoners’ dilemma is that we can choose the relationship we maintain with our friends (confessing and sharing in the plea dilemma or sharing equal gain in the negotiator’s dilemma). The reiteration in the interface of the dilemma is about the interaction. I mean, if you choose to be the individual that wins the most, you have to take the risk to lose the most etc.

Taking under consideration this delicate and rather instinctive self-consciousness I tend to apply trispectivism to whenever I´m facing a conscious decision. Where I try to figure the best possible outcome reasoning the individual (me) with the universal (friend or group of friends) and the probable interaction between us. For some of course it may sound somewhat rational and cold but if it will prevent 80% of misunderstanding and quarrels, for me, the preference is simple. As to how, well, relating to your natural self interest alongside with our dependence on the Other, reciprocal trust by association is probably one of the best methods, wouldn´t you agree?