Don’t Suppress Your Intuition [CF Article]

GOAL: React to article. Relate article to my personal thinking.

I found this article a fun and exciting read. I like the topic and find it relatable to my problem situation. I think live primarily by intuition and tradition but when I’m in learning mode I normally try to focus on explicit ideas. I have respect for intuitions because they often come from traditions (I think learned this from ET’s emotions essay Fallible Ideas – Emotions). I have been hesitant to share intuitions for a variety of reasons that I had not really considered until now.

One reason is that I have worried that just saying that I have an intuitive disagreement with something would sound like an unreasonable, or low-effort, or unimportant thing to share. So I guess I was thinking that it would be a bit of a non-starter in a discussion and not a very helpful thing to share or talk about. I think my biggest hesitation is throwing out comments on things that I haven’t thought much about. I think that I have been concerned that sharing statements of intuitive disagreement without some explicity detail is premature. My guess is that I can try resolving this problem but expressing my confusions and intuitive disagreements in whatever limited ways I can come up with. I’m happy to try changing my ideas about this and try sharing more about intuitions.

Another reason I have not shared intuitions much is that its hard for me to understand what my intuitions are without introspective work. More specifically, I think I tend to mask my intuitions with superficial rationalizations. I get confused and think that I really believe the rationalization but that rationalization will often fall apart with minimal introspection. I think this means my intuitions aren’t very stable, which is another reason I haven’t shared them much.

Article quote:

If people hide their intuitions and focus only on making explicit arguments that aren’t their real reasons (because they think explicit arguments are better and more rational, so they’re trying to be a better, more rational person than they actually are), then they’re being dishonest and sabotaging discussion.

The above quote is what made me think about how I could be rationalizing my intuitions and hiding my reasoning from myself.

Article quote:

The rational way to debate, when you can’t articulate all your ideas, is to say things like “I have an intuition which conflicts with that idea. I intuitively don’t want to believe or do that idea.” You should communicate the problem even if you can’t provide details.

I haven’t really considered how much to try to communicate thoughts like this but it sounds kinda liberating and definitely worth putting out there more.

Half-baked ideas are problematic, especially when unlabelled.

There’s not much point trying to respond to or correct an idea that the person won’t believe next week anyway even if you don’t reply.

Half-baked ideas are more commonly explicit ideas, not intuitions. Intuitions tend to be more stable, though sometimes you can mis-identify what is triggering the intuition.

E.g. you intuitively dislike a situation. You connect this to X, but it’s really that you dislike Y. Later, X changes and you still dislike it. Your intuition could look unstable but it isn’t.

Unstable short term intuitions tend to be created by stuff like biases, but being biased against something is generally a long term stable intuition. There is a stable intuition involved but some of the details are less stable and if you try to figure out the nature of the intuition you might get it wrong. In other words, your explicit analysis about what’s going on with the intuition may be a new, unstable idea. But if you keep your comments very simple, like “I intuitively dislike something about this whole situation.” then that will generally be stable, not something that would change next week. The fact that you react differently to some other situation wouldn’t contradict it. It could just mean that you haven’t yet figured out the pattern.