Search Results for “Intuition”

May 1, 2013

Intuition Pump

An intuition pump is a thought experiment structured to elicit intuitive answers about a problem. The term was coined by Daniel Dennett. In ‘Consciousness Explained,’ he uses the term pejoratively to describe John Searle’s ‘Chinese room’ thought experiment, characterizing it as designed to elicit intuitive but incorrect answers by formulating the description in such a way that important implications of the experiment would be difficult to imagine and tend to be ignored.

Searle’s experiment supposes that there is a program that gives a computer the ability to carry on an intelligent conversation in written Chinese. If the program is given to someone who speaks only English to execute the instructions of the program by hand, then in theory, the English speaker would also be able to carry on a conversation in written Chinese. However, the English speaker would not be able to understand the conversation.

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September 13, 2012

Social Intuitionism

jonathan haidt

Social intuitionism is a movement in moral psychology that arose in contrast to more heavily rationalist theories of morality, like that of Lawrence Kohlberg. Kohlberg developed a stage theory of moral reasoning that he claimed accounts for people’s moral behavior. More sophisticated reasoning, he asserted, should lead one to more consistent moral action, because one realizes that moral principles are prescriptive in nature and so demand action from the self. NYU psychologist Jonathan Haidt greatly de-emphasizes the role of reasoning in reaching moral conclusions. 

Haidt asserts that moral judgment is primarily given rise to by intuition with reasoning playing a very marginalized role in most of our moral decision-making. Conscious thought-processes serves as a kind of post hoc justification of our decisions. His main evidence comes from studies of ‘moral dumbfounding’ where people have strong moral reactions but fail to establish any kind of rational principle to explain their reaction. He suggests that we have affective heuristics (mental shortcuts) which are unconscious that generate our reactions to morally charged situations and our moral behavior. He suggests that if people reason about morality, it is independent of or at least processes causing moral decisions to be made.

April 9, 2011



The term intuition is used to describe ‘thoughts and preferences that come to mind quickly and without much reflection.’ “The word ‘intuition’ comes from the Latin word ‘intueri,’ which is often roughly translated as meaning ‘to look inside’ or ‘to contemplate.’  Intuition provides us with beliefs that we cannot necessarily justify. For this reason, it has been the subject of study in psychology, as well as a topic of interest in the supernatural. The ‘right brain’ is popularly associated with intuitive processes such as artistic abilities.

Some scientists have contended that intuition is associated with innovation in scientific discovery. Intuition is also a common subject of New Age writings. In Carl Jung’s theory of the ego intuition was an ‘irrational function,’ opposed most directly by sensation, and opposed less strongly by the ‘rational functions’ of thinking and feeling. Jung defined intuition as ‘perception via the unconscious.’ Bringing forth ideas, images, possibilities, ways out of a blocked situation, by a process that is mostly unconscious.

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August 20, 2020

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert M. Pirsig

‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values’ (ZAMM) is a book by Robert M. Pirsig first published in 1974. It is a work of fictionalized autobiography, and is the first of Pirsig’s texts in which he explores his “Metaphysics of Quality”.

The title is an apparent play on the title of the 1948 book Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel. In its introduction, Pirsig explains that, despite its title, “it should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.”

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April 19, 2018


The Logic of Scientific Discovery

A statement, hypothesis, or theory has falsifiability or refutability if there is the possibility of showing it to be false. It is falsifiable if it is possible to conceive an empirical observation which could refute it. For example, the universal generalization that All swans are white is falsifiable since it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single swan that is not white.

The concern with falsifiability gained attention by way of philosopher of science Karl Popper’s scientific epistemology referred to as ‘falsificationism.’ Popper stresses the problem of ‘demarcation’—distinguishing the scientific from the unscientific—and makes falsifiability the demarcation criterion, such that what is unfalsifiable is classified as unscientific, and the practice of declaring an unfalsifiable theory to be scientifically true is pseudoscience.

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January 4, 2016

Setting Boundaries

families and how to survive them

Setting boundaries is a life skill that has been popularized by self help authors and support groups since the mid 1980s. It is the practice of openly communicating and asserting personal values as way to preserve and protect against having them compromised or violated. The term ‘boundary’ is a metaphor – with ‘in-bounds’ meaning acceptable and ‘out-of-bounds’ meaning unacceptable. Without values and boundaries our identities become diffused and often controlled by the definitions offered by others. The concept of boundaries has been widely adopted by the counseling profession.

Healthy relationships are ‘inter-dependent’ connections between two ‘independent’ people. Healthy individuals should establish values that they honor and defend regardless of the nature of a relationship (core or independent values). Healthy individuals should also have values that they negotiate and adapt in an effort to bond with and collaborate with others (inter-dependent values).

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November 17, 2015

News Values


News values, or ‘news criteria,’ determine how much prominence a news story is given by a media outlet, and the attention it garners from its audience. These values are not universal and can vary widely between different cultures. In Western practice, decisions on the selection and prioritization of news are ostensibly made by editors on the basis of their experience and intuition.

However, a seminal analysis by Norwegian sociologists Johan Galtung and Mari Ruge in the ‘Journal of Peace Research’ in 1965 showed that several factors are common, such as familiarity (stories that ‘hit close to home’), negativity (‘if it bleeds, it leads’), and Unexpectedness (‘don’t report on fire in a furnace’). Basing his judgement on many years as a newspaper journalist Tim Hetherington has said that ‘anything which threatens people’s peace, prosperity, and well being is news and likely to make headlines.’

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January 30, 2015

A Course in Miracles

levels of the mind

A Course in Miracles‘ (ACIM or simply the ‘Course’) is a book written and edited by psychologist Helen Schucman, with portions transcribed and edited by psychologist William Thetford, containing a self-study curriculum of spiritual transformation. It consists of three sections entitled ‘Text,’ ‘Workbook,’ and ‘Manual for Teachers.’ Written from 1965 to 1972, some distribution occurred via photocopies before a hardcover edition was published in 1976. The copyright and trademarks, which had been held by two foundations, were revoked in 2004 after a lengthy litigation because the earliest versions had been circulated without a copyright notice.

Schucman believed that an ‘inner voice,’ which she identified as Jesus, guided her writing. Throughout the 1980s annual sales of the book steadily increased each year, however the largest growth in sales occurred in 1992 after spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson discussed the book on ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show,’ with more than two million volumes sold. The book has been called everything from ‘a Satanic seduction’ to ‘The New Age Bible.’

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April 9, 2014

Risk Perception

cultural theory of risk

Risk perception is the subjective judgment that people make about the characteristics and severity of a risk. The phrase is most commonly used in reference to natural hazards and threats to the environment or health, such as nuclear power. Several theories have been proposed to explain why different people make different estimates of the dangerousness of risks. Three major families of theory have been developed: psychology approaches (heuristics and cognitive), anthropology/sociology approaches (cultural theory) and interdisciplinary approaches (social amplification of risk framework).

The study of risk perception arose out of the observation that experts and lay people often disagreed about how risky various technologies and natural hazards were. The mid 1960s saw the rapid rise of nuclear technologies and the promise for clean and safe energy. However, fears of both longitudinal dangers to the environment as well as immediate disasters creating radioactive wastelands turned the public against this new technology. The governmental communities asked why public perception was against the use of nuclear energy when all of the scientific experts were declaring how safe it really was. The problem, from the perspectives of the experts, was a difference between scientific facts and an exaggerated public perception of the dangers.

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October 7, 2013


Counterintuitive means contrary to what seems intuitively right or correct. A counterintuitive proposition is one that does not seem likely to be true when assessed using intuition or gut feelings. Scientifically discovered, objective truths are often called counterintuitive when intuition, emotions, and other cognitive processes outside of deductive rationality interpret them to be wrong.

However, the subjective nature of intuition limits the objectivity of what to call counterintuitive because what is counter-intuitive for one may be intuitive for another. This might occur in instances where intuition changes with knowledge. For instance, many aspects of quantum mechanics or general relativity may sound counterintuitive to a layman, while they may be intuitive to a particle physicist.

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September 10, 2013

Unitarian Universalism

flaming chalice

Unitarian [yoo-ni-tair-ee-uhnUniversalism [yoo-nuh-vur-suh-liz-uhm] (UUism or Unitarianism) is a syncretistic, theologically liberal religion characterized by a, ‘free and responsible search for truth and meaning.’ Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed, but are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth and by the understanding that an individual’s theology is a result of that search and not a result of obedience to an authoritarian requirement.

Unitarian Universalists draw from all major world religions, and have a wide range of beliefs and practices. Members might describe themselves as humanist, agnostic, deist, atheist, pagan, Christian, Muslim, monotheist, pantheist, polytheist, or use no label at all.

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May 1, 2013

Trolley Problem

Philippa Foot

The trolley problem is a thought experiment in ethics, first introduced by British philosopher Philippa Foot in 1967, but also extensively analyzed by philosophers Judith Jarvis Thomson, Peter Unger, and Frances Kamm as recently as 1996. Outside of the domain of traditional philosophical discussion, the trolley problem has been a significant feature in the fields of cognitive science and, more recently, of neuroethics. It has also been a topic on various TV shows dealing with human psychology.

The general form of the problem is this: Person A can take an action which would benefit many people, but in doing so, person B would be unfairly harmed. Under what circumstances would it be morally just for Person A to violate Person B’s rights in order to benefit the group?

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