Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Discovery Institute Key Word: "Intuition"

I posted once about this already (Design Intuition . . . is that really a Thing?), but it popped again in a post by davey 'klingy' klinghoffer.  I think it's going to be the latest thread running through any number of posts.  I'm sure other Discovery Institute posters will be having their say on 'Intuition'.  It might soon join the other DI arguments, like the Odds Argument, the Design Argument, and the most recent Information Argument.  These older arguments are never discarded, you just see them less and less.

Here is klingy's post "Chimps "Grieve" for a Lost Loved One, Just Like People?". Of course klingy disagrees with anything that can show a link between humans and any other species on the planet, but that's not the point I want to focus on. Here's the line:

"Of course it's another attempt to undermine our intuition that human beings are unique, including in our reactions to death"
But the main point here isn't the idea of uniqueness that theists like to claim for humanity, but the  . . . method, to use the word loosely, . . . that klingy and his buddies want us to use to justify that perception of uniqueness, intuition.  What he is really wanting people to do is to stop thinking.  Yes, you heard me.  Pardon the pun, but if you simply rely on your intuition to make decisions, aren't you refusing to think?  Seriously, look at the line and also look at the previous post on 'design intuition'. If your intuition is saying that humans are unique and special then why bother to think any further?  If your intuition tells you humans, the Earth, or the Solar System are designed, then why look any further?  You already 'know' the answer.  I wonder why that would sound appealing to klingy and his friends?

But do you really 'know' the answer, or do you just simply believe you know it?  There is a difference between the two.  If I had a choice between playing poker with nine intuition-based players or nine professional poker player who do not rely on their intuition at all, I know which table I would prefer! Doug Axe and klingy would make easy pickings on a poker table!  Mirriam-Webster defines intuition as:
: 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
it further defines it as :
1: quick and ready insight
2  a : immediate apprehension or cognition
    b : knowledge or conviction gained by intuition
    c : the power or faculty of attaining to direct knowledge or cognition without evident rational thought and inference
I have a little trouble with Merriam-Webster using the word 'knowledge' and 'know' because that implies the knowledge you may acquire through intuition to be correct. 'Conviction' I can understand, because intuition gives you the feeling of being correct, but that is not the same thing as being correct. As noted in my last post on this subject, Yale tested intuition in the 70's and found:
"Their level of accuracy, however, did not differ from that of non intuitive subjects."
So if intuition is just as accurate as non-intuition, what benefit do you gain?  There is nothing that implies that the knowledge gained through an intuitive process is in any way accurate.  Basically it's being sure you know something without being sure how you arrived at it, regardless of whether or not what you feel confident in what you know is correct. It does sound like a great tool for the Discovery Institute, doesn't it?

Plus you cannot forget that it is an individual activity, not a group-think.  For example if you intuitively believe something, you cannot pass that intuition along to me to share your belief.  So how is this better than a systematic approach to supporting ideas through science?  Simply put, it's not! Intuition can only take you so far, if you want to be successful, you have to step beyond your belief and support it with actual thought and even, dare I say it . . . evidence.

But klingy and his buddies don't want you thinking and they certainly don't want you looking at actual evidence.  They much prefer you share their belief set and argue against any who do not share it . . . like the majority of the rest of the world when it comes to Creationism/Intelligent Design.  They want you to accept a vague intuition on a subject and avoid taking it to the next level and engaging your brain.  What he forgets to intuition usually does have a basis.  Ah . . . once again I will use words that klingy hates . . . I ask that you think it through.

When someone who has an intuition about something finally does think about it, they usually find that their intuition is based on something else they already believe.  Not that what they already believe is correct or not, just that it is already something they believe to be true.  They just didn't make the connection at the time of their 'intuitive' event.

For example, someone who uses certain processes, like problem-solving, may intuitively come to a conclusion without having worked through the details of the problem-solving process. It's not that they have come to the correct, or even the best, answer, but that they believe they have an answer intuitively.  Remember, nothing about intuition requires the answer to be correct. Another example, someone who intuitively believes something about another person is often interpreting non-verbal behavior without consciously thinking about the behavior itself.  They are getting an impression, a feeling, without thinking how or why they got that feeling.  Are they right? Again, nothing gained through intuition is necessarily correct or incorrect, just a feeling. Have you ever misjudged someone based on first impression?

Problem-solving is a process, as is interpreting non-verbal behavior.  But when you rely on your intuition, people that are truly interested in solving a problem or ensuring their impression of a person is correct will go beyond their 'feeling'. Intuitively you might feel you have come to a good answer, but how you validate that is to go through the process. Examine the potential impact of your solution and examine other solutions. Your intuition might 'feel' OK, but what if someone has a better answer than yours? A good problem-solver isn't interested in playing the 'mine is better than yours' game, they want to implement the best solution, regardless of source.

Non-verbal clues are equally error prone.  In order to know if your impression is correct, it usually means learning more about the person you have some 'feeling' about.  Cultural mis-cues are especially telling.  I was teaching a class and one student never, ever looked me in the eye.  It drove me crazy!  My intuition said one thing, but the reality was the culture he was brought up in was to never make direct eye contact with an authority figure.  My culture says always make direct eye contact.  If I hadn't taken a small step and learned more about this one student I would have had a much harder time communicating with him.  My intuition led me astray, because it was based on how I grew up, not taking into account a very different culture.

So intuition has a basis . . . usually from something you learned previously.  Again, that doesn't mean it's correct, just that you arrived at a feeling without thinking things through.  So what might be the basis for klingy's intuition about human uniqueness or Dougie's design intuition?  Isn't that something people have been previously taught?

One of the cornerstones of Creationism is claiming that human beings are unique, of course religion squarely places that uniqueness in the hands of a Deity.  Objectively when you look at any animal, or really any organism, from some perspective there is something unique about all of them.  But I would say it's an example of human hubris to claim that we are the only unique organism on the planet.  But many religions do exactly that.  How many time have we heard "We are made in God's Image" or "God created the Heavens and the Earth" religious foolishness?  Is it any wonder when someone will believe something because of those teachings and later simply call them intuitive?

I have had a multitude of conversations with folks about their 'belief' and how they 'know' their belief is true.  It often centers around religious beliefs, but not always.  I've run into bigots who are just as bad.  They 'know' things about many types of people and are usually dead wrong.  Stereotypes are a poor measure of other people, but try explaining that to a bigot or racist.  Funny how you get an answer remarkably similiar to hard-core theists, "I know!" without a single clue how they 'know', they just 'know' so therefore why bother to think.

Klingy, and the DI, want you to use your 'intuition' to come to some conclusion and end any thought past that.  It could be because their belief set is the right one, but if that were true then it could withstand any level of scrutiny.  Has it?  Really?  Or do they prefer to avoid anything resembling scrutiny?  We all know the answer to that one.  If you want to know why, just look at the failure of their belief set within the realm of science.  The one area where their 'intuition' about design and Creationism can be validated is the one area where it has failed each and every test.  They have to resort to marketing, politics, and lawyer-ing word tricks to convince people they have something worth intuitively believing.

People who disagree with the DI and their pet version of Creationism have never once asked you to stop thinking!  That in itself is something to think about!  So, what I think is going to happen is a full-court press on the concept of 'intuition' in an effort market it to folks, after all, thinking is hard!

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