SCI-ART LAB

Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

This is what somebody (an artist) said in support of art :

 I have worked, talked and collaborated with many very accomplished scientists and researchers. I find it almost universal that the more accomplished the scientist the quicker they are to acknowledge the critical role of intuition and unintended discoveries (mistakes). Scientists running multimillion dollar research projects refer to their work with humor and clarity about how little is understood and how subjective is the definition of success. Outside of the arts success maybe considered simply ones opinion. I am always amazed at the level of consensus among artists I know and respect. "Unraveling the mysteries of nature to help the world"... sounds like art to me.

And this is my reply:

I acknowledge some scientists take the help of "intuition" but that is considered as "bad science". If you do your work with trial and error method sometimes you hit your target out of sheer coincidence. Even a child can do that. What is the big deal? Earlier scientists treaded this path. If you say today's well established scientists you know use this method, I am sorry to say you are in the bad company of people who don't use their brain power properly and are still residing in medieval times. " I find it almost universal that the more accomplished the scientist the quicker they are to acknowledge the critical role of intuition and unintended discoveries (mistakes)"  - "Universal"? "Critical role" ? Lady provide proof and substantiate your arguments as you are using big words.

You can read here what even the journalists say about 'intuitive inventions and discoveries'

http://kkartlab.in/group/some-science/forum/topics/are-these-invent...

and my rebuttal:

According to me although they are termed as accidental, without the observations, thinking, reasoning and conclusions of the scientists they wouldn't have happened. Would they have happened with ordinary people? Laymen would have seen them and ignored them! That is the difference between a scientist ( science) and the ordinary people (world).
For all these discoveries to happen, a scientific process still was at play.
Journalists say several things to increase the selling capacity of their journals to make stories interesting. But at the same time, I think, we should not forget to give credit to the scientists and their hard work.

"Discovery is seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought" - Albert Von SzentGyorgi

And if you believe what the media says sensationally to market their stories and argue that it is true, nothing can be far from truth.


Before the rise of modern science we had only our folk intuitions to guide us. Most of the work based on intuitions you mentioned occurred in earlier centuries and not in today's world. Intuition based science steadily declined since the rise of modern science. Yes, in the absence of equipment to deal with complexities of the universe some scientists take the help of "folk stories" ( scientists gave intuition based work this name) - but they are just that - stories - not solid science. All medieval theories of science took the help of intuition. Most of the prestigious present day scientific journals say "People have plenty of intuitions, but they’re usually wrong".
 Give me the names of the well accomplished scientists who say intuition is "critical to scientific research",  I will show them how unscientific, backward-thinking and stupid they are! ( She never gave me the names!)

Reasoning and rationale is what majority of scientists follow today and the field of science agrees this is the right method. Intuition based science is considered as pseudo-science in today's world.
Again intuition is the perception via the unconscious and subconscious and at that level your brain will be still working without the active knowledge of the person. It is my own experience that after thinking about a problem late into the night, I fall asleep and then as soon as I get up with the same thoughts next morning, suddenly the possible solution strikes. That is not intuition. It is the culmination of your thoughts at subconscious level - which leads to conscious solutions. A recent study shows that our brains can make decisions while we're sleeping (ref 1). Our brains don’t shut down when we go to sleep, in fact, a recent study has shown that they remain quietly active, and can process information to help us make decisions, just like when we're awake. People think this is intuition or some unknown entity giving them solutions when in fact their own brains give them the solutions like mine does.

Watch this video to know what happens during sleep

Another way of seeing it is if you take your mind away from the problem that is giving you trouble for some time, your mind relaxes and with a relaxed mind you can see the solution clearly, easily and sometimes suddenly. I don't think this is intuition either. In science *intuition* occurs after a thorough and well informed thought and is different from the intuitions of art and other fields.

Unlike others,  what scientists do is 'knowledge based guess' or 'informed imagination'. "Educated guessing" or inherent trust in their "intuition," the natural organizing force which seems indirect, but often is more direct than realized. Intuition builds upon stored knowledge and to me means "clarity of perception." It seems that the brain naturally forges neural pathways linking information in new ways, reorganizing the data, and then reaching beyond it, creating something new and logical, perhaps just not so obvious.This form of logic may not necessarily be verbal or mathematical, it may instead utilize visual thinking techniques, such as geometric pattern matching. The path to the idea may be based on the acceptance of string of unproven assumptions, so that part of the work of the scientist  involves exploration of the assumptions. In any case, the combined skills of logical (visual, mathematical, or verbal) and free (the ability to work with unproven assumptions) thinking can lead to interesting questions and potential breakthroughs. This idea formation or "insight of clarity" sometimes occurs in one's sleep, and at other times when playing or daydreaming.  This process  helps researchers of all kinds in identifying problems and their solutions. The subconscious mind keeps working as our conscious mind goes onto something else, then suddenly, the Eureka! experience. Both artists and scientists use their imaginations and logic, both consciously and unconsciously, within a given framework on a particular set of events or problems. Creative thinking is inherent to all fields of endeavor, since it is a human characteristic. The brain appears to synthesize the accumulated information and leap to new ideas, new conceptions, new models for understanding the world.
There are dangers if you take the help of  ordinary "intuition" .There are specific medical cases when doctors went with intuition or the common treatment option, which in the end, turned out to be more harmful than good for the patients involved.  Of course this was only discovered after additional scientific research had been done to quantitatively prove that the doctors' intuition and/or common practice had been wrong.  Intuition is a very poor guide to the world. Modern day science doesn't accept such practices although some black sheep of science still follow it.  If you selectively choose to give bad examples of science and say they are universal rules of science to supplement your argument, I am sorry to say your argument doesn't have solid stuff in it.

Differences between intuition and scientific:

Intuition

Scientific

General approach

let's try this and see how it works let's make an assumption, implement a precise plan to study how it works, try it out, collect data, share with others, repeat the experiment (with other students who are similar to the first group) to see if the results are the same.

Observation

casual and uncontrolled very systematic and carefully controlled very systematic and carefully controlled

Reporting


OK to be biased and subjective

must be unbiased and objective

Concepts

OK to be ambiguous (general and even imprecise) all aspects of activities must be clearly defined all aspects of activities must be clearly defined

Instruments

the tools used can be informal (even inaccurate and imprecise the tools used could be informal but must be accurate and precise

Measurement

no real concerns about validity or reliability It's important that measures used are both valid and reliable

Hypotheses

do not need to be tested or proven very important to have a well-articulated theory or assumption that you are trying to prove or disprove

Attitude

no need to be critical or skeptical of results because outcomes are just assumptions important to ask questions about the results (healthy skepticism)
National Research Council (2002). Scientific Research in Education. National Academy Press. Washington DC., pg. 104.

References:

1. http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141909-26203.html

Copyright 2012 Dr. Krishna Kumari Challa.

All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Views: 377

Replies to This Discussion

Chris Bathgate • I guess perhaps we need to either alter the definition of intuition slightly or maybe just use a different word . I would consider some of the subconscious thinking examples you gave as having an intuitive quality, I guess I am trying to separate what I feel is a more informed type of intuitive thinking from what you describe as a more raw, trial and error type of intuition that would resemble blind guessing. But I think cognition happens along a wide spectrum so it is not always so easy to separate rational thinking from unreasoned guessing.

An intelligent, highly educated persons intuition may be much more accurate then someone who has limited intelligence and education, based on your definition, they should be the same. I do not consider trial and error to be a type of intuitive thinking either. I think it is much more nuanced then that. before I understood mechanics as well as I do, I still intuitively understood how things would behave in certain situations based on past experience. I was not guessing how things would behave, I had some concept of how things moved based on experience, To me intuition, is more of the way our brains run quick simulations based on the limited information it has, filling in gaps of knowledge with educated guesses rather than blind ones. It has a lot to do with whether or not we are able to obtain "Domain knowledge" about the field or area we are using our intuition with as to how effectively we are.
That being said and as you point out It is nearly impossible to have experiential knowledge about many fields of science because we are not able to experience these worlds with our five senses and therefore build up a functional domain knowledge, take micro biology as an example. This requires tools such as microscopes and many other types of equipment Just to see what is happening (only one sense), we have no working physical experience of that world, so our intuition about it would be from a position of ignorance and would be poor. But basic mechanics is something people have great intuition about even without knowing the math and science behind it, because it exists at a Macro level. It is why we have athletes. most of them do not have in depth knowledge of how gravity and other forces behave on each other yet their performance is not based off of hard science about trajectories or fluid dynamics.

And while I certainly agree with you 100% that as standard practice, intuition should be left largely out of science, I also think it is completely unavoidable that intuition plays a part in every persons life and therefore inevitably creeps into the lab, after all, we are only human and oh so occasionally this pays off. I think what separates good science and bad science isn't whether or not someone decides to go with there gut, its whether or not they do the testing, the hard work, the actual science to follow up on and prove the thing that their intuition led them to. It is not enough to just "feel" a certain way, but if follow up on a feeling with logic, and reason,in order to definitively prove or disprove that feeling. It is about scientific rigor that separates the good science and the bad.
And I guess that is part of what I am interested in with my work. I am interested in how my intuition works. SInce I operate in an arena where there can be no harm, I am privileged to go with my gut. But for me personally, as in science, It is not enough to go with my gut, I need to feel like there is some logical reason I am attracted to the forms that I am making, I like to study my intuition as I work. When I feel that a shape should be a certain way, I try to look at that feeling objectively and figure out why it is that I feel that way. So when I can see a connection between a form and some other tangible construct, be it mechanics or anything else tangible, I feel it helps me understand the root of my aesthetic and intuition better.

I certainly dont disagree with you in any way. But I think we may have slightly different definitions of what intuition is. For me, intuition is kind of how we catch a baseball thrown to us without thinking. We do it based on subconscious mechanisms that are based off of lots of past experience firmly grounded in reality, even though we do not have access to the information tat informs the action, it is not purely a guess either. That is my only main point.
Perhaps I am venturing into fairy tale land again. But I have read numerous accounts from scientists who have had major break throughs who explain that they do not really know how they made the quantum leap of thinking to make the break through that they did, and that it just came to them and they do not understand how or why (the math and science to prove it came later). This is sort of my definition of intuition, it is based on experience and information that we may not have conscious access to, and is far from a linear way of thinking. this is highly unscientific, but a quick google search turns up these examples. Perhaps none of these are true, or are just exaggerations that have no real relationship to what 99.99% of scientist do on a daily bases. But that is why this conversation is interesting.

-Though his professors told him it was impossible to develop a polyphase motor, Nikola Tesla invented it. Remembering a description of the sun’s motion in Goethe’s Faust triggered this. This crossing of disciplines laid the foundation of most of our modern technology.

-The invention of polymer molecular rings was inspired from a dream of a serpent biting it's own tail.

-Einstein intuited the basic concepts of relativity before he developed the mathematics to express the ideas, later proven by observation.

-Penicillin was discovered as a result of a contamination accident in a petri dish containing bacteria. The discovery of this lead to the first true miracle drug.

-The existence of the toy levitron flies in the face of conventional magnetic theory that says it is impossible. Yet they work, exist and are sold routinely to anyone who is interested. The inventor had to intuit the concept and go beyond the limits of magnetic theory. The evidence now exists and stirs up controversy.

-Experiments to produce a plastic glass (Plexiglas) failed, until someone left an experiment overnight as refuse to be cleaned up later, which ended up producing the desired result when it set during everyone’s absence.

My reply: I know about the stories you told. But are "accidents in science" related to intuition?

Intuition: The act or faculty of knowing or sensing without the use of rational processes; immediate cognition. Arising from impulse; spontaneous and unthinking.

Reason: The capacity for logical, rational, and analytic thought; intelligence.

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/doing-good-science/2013/02/12/i...
Intuitions, scientific methodology, and the challenge of not getting fooled.

Daniel Dennett's Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking. http://www.amazon.com/Intuition-Pumps-Other-Tools-Thinking/dp/14805...

The first pump is "Making Mistakes". It takes courage and maturity to admit your mistakes in public.

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 solutions were more often correct than those achieved deliberately. For instance, in one experiment, in which 38 participants had to think of a single word that could form a compound phrase with three previously presented words (such as “apple” for the trio “crab,” “pine” and “sauce”), aha! solutions were correct 94 percent of the time compared with 78 percent accuracy for analytical solutions.

This outcome may result from the way the brain generates insights. Because such processing occurs largely outside a person's awareness, it is all or nothing—a fully formed answer either comes to mind or it doesn't. This hypothesis is supported by EEG and functional MRI scans, which revealed in previous studies that just before insight takes place, the occipital cortex, which is responsible for visual processing, momentarily shuts down, or “blinks,” so that ideas can “bubble into consciousness,” Kounios says. As a result, insights are less likely to be incorrect. Analytical thinking, in contrast, happens consciously and is therefore more subject to rushing and lapses in reasoning.

That is not to say that insight is always the best strategy. The Salvi and Kounios experiments involved puzzles with clear right and wrong answers. So the results may not apply to real-world situations, where problems are typically highly complex and may require days—if not months or years—to solve.

In fact, difficult questions often necessitate several different strategies to arrive at a solution

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-you-trust-a-eureka-mo...

Good reply!

Intuition

Scientific

General approach
let's try this and see how it works let's make an assumption, implement a precise plan to study how it works, try it out, collect data, share with others, repeat the experiment (with other students who are similar to the first group) to see if the results are the same.

Observation
casual and uncontrolled very systematic and carefully controlled very systematic and carefully controlled

Reporting

OK to be biased and subjective
must be unbiased and objective

Concepts
OK to be ambiguous (general and even imprecise) all aspects of activities must be clearly defined all aspects of activities must be clearly defined

Instruments
the tools used can be informal (even inaccurate and imprecise the tools used could be informal but must be accurate and precise

Measurement
no real concerns about validity or reliability It's important that measures used are both valid and reliable

Hypotheses
do not need to be tested or proven very important to have a well-articulated theory or assumption that you are trying to prove or disprove

Attitude
no need to be critical or skeptical of results because outcomes are just assumptions important to ask questions about the results (healthy skepticism)
National Research Council (2002). Scientific Research in Education. National Academy Press. Washington DC., pg. 104.

A recent meta-analysis by Kuncel, Klieger, Connelly and Ones found that, across multiple criteria in work and academic settings, when people combined hard data with their judgments, and those of others, their predictions were always less valid, and less predictive of real outcomes, than those generated by hard data alone.
What this research suggests is that relying on the most objective data available and using algorithms to interpret it to make selection decisions beats our intuition. By far.
By relying on intuition, in fact, we can make biased decisions. To take one example, we tend to infer someone’s ability directly from his performance without adequately adjusting for the situation in which he has operated, a systematic error known as the correspondence bias. For instance, when evaluating which employees to promote, a manager might focus exclusively on their success and fail to adjust for the difficulty of their past assignments. Similarly, we might judge our leaders without factoring in market conditions, political challenges, and so on.
“To know that we know what we know, and that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge,” Confucius once said. Algorithms using objective data lead to much greater accuracy in predicting widely valued outcomes such as job and academic performance. A true expert is someone who knows what they do not know—namely, that our intuition can fail us.

http://www.decisionsciencenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Kunce...

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-data-beats-intuition-...

Our brains can make decisions while we're sleeping
Your brain doesn’t shut down when you go to sleep, in fact, a recent study has shown that it remains quietly active, and can process information to help you make decisions, just like when you're awake.
http://sciencealert.com.au/news/20141909-26203.html

Are lucid dreaming and metacognition of the same origin?
Lucid dreaming is the ability of someone to be aware that they are dreaming and even exert voluntary control over their experience in dreams. Metacognition is defined as “cognition about cognition”. In general terms, it is being extremely introspective. In metacognitive monitoring, someone is in tune to their mental state and potentially able to modify this state through thought and training. During sleep, metacognitive awareness is essentially unavailable, except in the case of lucid dreaming. The subset of people who report lucid dreaming are able to communicate through volitional eye movements while their bodies remained locked in the atonia of REM sleep, suggesting that they can access cognitive processing that is off limit the larger population during sleep.

Metacognition is linked to the brain regions within the prefrontal cortex, including the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the frontal polar cortex. For example, activation in these regions is associated with self-reflection, working memory organization, action planning, multitasking and theory of mind. During REM sleep, activity is reduced in these regions but not in lucid dreamers. Therefore, a relationship between this brain region, metacognition and lucid dreaming seems intuitive, but until now it was not directly tested. Recently, researchers evaluated groups of subjects within a spectrum of lucid dreaming ability which they reported on a questionnaire. The researchers had these subjects perform a thought monitoring task while awake in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine and evaluated reaction time. During the task, researchers measured gray matter volume (essentially collections of neuron cell bodies) in the prefrontal cortex and blood flow to the region (a measure of neuronal activity).

The results, published in a recent issue of the Journal of Neuroscience, found that gray matter volume was higher in the prefrontal cortex of people who reported being lucid dreamers. They also found that blood flow was increased in this region when subjects were actively thought monitoring compared to simply resting with visual stimuli, and that the difference in blood flow between resting and thought monitoring was even greater in the lucid dreamers than control participants. Therefore, the authors conclude, this provides evidence that lucid dreaming and metacognition are anatomically connected through neuronal processes that are seated in the frontal pole.
Metacognitive Mechanisms Underlying Lucid Dreaming
http://www.jneurosci.org/content/35/3/1082

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