Monday, June 07, 2004

The Power Of Intuition

John Weir, a lecturer in engineering design at the University of Melbourne.

"Intuition, or the ability to reach a correct solution without formal analysis, is an extremely useful skill for engineers,"

While most people won't be designing suspension bridges or skyscrapers, we've probably all had intuitive experiences — like the mother who senses that her child is desperately ill despite medical advice to the contrary, or the traveller who abruptly cancels his plans just in time to avoid jetting into a war zone.

However, we're apt to dismiss our insights because the inexplicable nature of "intuition" has long left it languishing on the lunatic fringe.

Yet there is nothing magical about intuition, says Janice Langan-Fox, associate professor of psychology at the University of Melbourne.

"Anything seems magical if we don't know how it happens (or) where the knowledge came from," she explains. "There appears to be no 'rational' process for the sort of knowledge we suddenly have as a consequence of intuition."

The sixth sense
June 7, 2004