A gazelle is born and immediately ‘knows’ to run away from a cheetah. She neither
has time to ponder the matter nor does she err in her assessment. The gazelle
instantly darts away from her mother and begins what is perhaps the only run of her
life. Where did the gazelle learn this? Was there a school in momma’s tummy?
In fact humans aren’t that much different in making similar split decisions. No one
needs to go to school to learn that a lion on the loose is a danger or that fire burns
the skin. Surely we don’t learn such things at the university. We have a mysterious
innate ‘knowledge’ of some future events, some of which are experienced-based.
For example, when the parachute doesn’t open, we sense that the parachutist is not
going to make it. We didn’t learn this from dropping people without their parachutes
in a series of controlled experiments. We instantly associate the event with
everyday experiences. We are ‘innately’ aware that some things like vases and
flowerpots have little chance of surviving a collision with the floor.  
Of course, intuition is notoriously fallible. It would not be the first recorded instance
in history if the gambler were to lose on such sure bets. Perhaps the parachutist
survives the fall or, for unforeseen reasons, the gazelle lives to see another day.
Hence, intuition cannot be counted on to put your life on the line. Intuition is not
knowledge because knowledge is error-free prediction, and not even God has such
predictive power.
But then this still doesn’t answer how a fawn learns to flee a cheetah upon birth.
Surely she had no time to learn from experience. Is intuition innate or experience-
In his paper on intuition, Taggart [1] reviews various ordinary and scientific
definitions and explanations for intuition ranging from Simon’s ‘decisions’ to Agor’s
left and right brain ‘information integration’ and from processes to levels. The
greater part of the paper deals with how intuitions develop and why we have them.
Intuition can be likened to a tactic, an action improvised usually upon short or no
notice. Typically the word refers to positive outcomes, when the reaction is
successful. A plate is about to fall off a table and the observer reacts by instinct,
mechanically, as if driven by a sixth sense. Or we perceive that it is going to rain in a
few moments given the look of the sky, or that a horse is going to win a race. The
subconscious appears to be at work, and whether this state of mind was determined
at birth or as a result of accumulated experiences is the subject of much debate.
Intuition is unconscious knowledge, a form of ready or instant insight. [2]
Unfortunately, the extended parts of these discussions take the subject matter along
an irrelevant tangent. The techniques that we use to come up with our intuitions are
immaterial to the topic at hand. In order to use a strategic word consistently in a
scientific discussion, the scientific method requires that the prosecutor begin by
providing a precise meaning to this word before disclosing the hows and explaining
the whys. A definition is presented during the hypothesis stage. The hows and whys
are addressed later, respectively during the narrative and theory stages. Hence, the
subject of how or why a gazelle guesses is immaterial to the definition of intuition.
To summarize, the main points that I wanted to make are, first, that intuition is not
knowledge because it is fallible. Second, that intuition is not a belief because it has
to do with a future event. Belief is circumscribed to consummated events. If intuition
has to do with the future and is not knowledge, that leaves a guess as the remaining
possibility. We can say that intuition is an innate guess or an experienced-based
guess or an immediate guess originating in the subconscious, but, for the purposes
of Science, it is just that: a guess.
1. A member of a scientific jury or inquiry board. A peer. Does not have to be peer.
An individual who has been targeted by a prosecutor or who was elected by others
to determine whether a theory is scientific. In order for a theory to be scientific, the
juror must establish that it has a valid hypothesis, a consistent theory, that the
conclusions follow from the hypothesis and theory, and that the conclusion includes
a testable prediction.

(Syn: peer)


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