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Nullo's avatar

Intuition, hunches, and gut reactions: is your brain thinking when you're not?

Asked by Nullo (21973points) March 15th, 2012

Same as above.

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14 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Yes. In fact, most of the decisions you make have already been made by your brain before you become aware of them.

Puts another dent into “free will”.

marinelife's avatar

Oh, yes. I strongly recommend Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.

Blackberry's avatar

Of course. If we had to think about every single action before we did it, we would never get out of the house.

Cruiser's avatar

@marinelife stole my answer!!

Yes the information in the book Blink covers in great detail how in a matters of seconds our mind has made up it’s mind before you consciously process the information and formulate a real opinion on what you see and feel. They said it is part of a very primitive survival instinct that controlled the survival fight or flight reaction in primitive man. Today we often assume the intentions of people to be good natured and safe, but we all have more than once found out later we should have listened to our guts.

Coloma's avatar

I’m highly intuitive and most of my decisions are intuited rather than thought although I am also a pragmatic thinker. My strongest assessment skills are my intuition followed by my thinking. I rarely regret a decision as it arises from a place of deep knowing, ready made, and I trust my gut feelings, hunches 100%.

john65pennington's avatar

I think I must have been born with radar in my stomach. I say this, because of my gut feelings, as a police officer. 85% of my “hunches or gut feelings” always came true. My wife always said I was blessed because of this.

Needless to say, my gut feelings and guardian angels, kept me safe for many years.

I have always said, “when in doubt…..don’t”. Gut feeling or hunch?

marinelife's avatar

@Cruiser You recommended that book to me! I give you full credit.

Shippy's avatar

It’s an animal instinct so requires no thought.

Nullo's avatar

@Shippy @Blackberry I was asking if your brain continues to work on problems while you’ve got your attention elsewhere.

6rant6's avatar

I think intuitive reasoning – “gut reactions” “hunches” and belief in angels guiding us – is one of the banes of human existence. Sure, we can work things out subconsciously, but if we aren’t able to confirm that with real data and our conscious mind, we have to back off.

George W Bush went to war with Iraq because he thought God was telling him to. That’s despite the evidence that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the ostensible reason for attacking.

And sure, cops think they are guided by mystic forces and always know who the bad guy is on sight. But we know now – thanks to DNA – that they are wrong a good deal of the time, but are able to convince themselves that convicting the “bad guy” is more important that following the evidence to its logical conclusion.

We have impulses, some of them grounded in evolutionary history, that are brain puts out. For example, we instinctively are wary about people who look dissimilar to ourselves. Rational people learn to get over this. Irrational people make it a political mantra, or a career.

Don’t be fooled because you like the decisions you leap to. It doesn’t mean they are good.

deni's avatar

@marinelife stole my answer too :) Blink is an amazing book. I already trusted my gut instincts before I read that book but it really reaffirmed my idea that I shouldn’t second guess myself. Your brain and gut are ALWAYS thinking, judging, in amounts of time so small it’s hard to believe they could be accurate! But they are.

wundayatta's avatar

Yes, we have multiple brains. The conscious mind represents a small portion of our entire minds. Our whole mind is working all the time, but the work the subconscious mind does is at a disadvantage: it doesn’t come in symbols.

A major function of the conscious mind is communication. We need symbols in order to communicate with anyone else. Indeed, we need symbols to think with in the conscious mind. Only by perceiving symbols do we get a record of a thought process. Everything else happens in the dark, so to speak.

So the rest of the mind thinks all the time and is busy solving problems and it has to get these solutions into the conscious mind if we are to act on them, for the most part.

So suddenly these ideas appear in our conscious minds, and it seems like an epiphany sometimes. A ‘Eureka” moment. And at other times, we call it “intuition.” “A gut reaction.”

We can not see how these thoughts have been created, so we mistrust them. In order to trust them, we need to test them out, and see if they work. Of course, we are not at all at our scientific best many times when we test them out. So the idea that we’ve tested intuition and found it useful might be a type 2 error (found true when it isn’t really true).

But we’re thinking. All the time. Both visibly and invisibly to ourselves. There is logic to hunches, generally, but it may not be backed up by more rigorous analysis. For that reason, I think it is wise to be skeptical about your hunches.

ucme's avatar

Of course, during a fuckathon with the missus i’ll often look forward to beer & a football match for afters, even though it appears my full concentration is on the “job at hand”

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