William D. Waltz

from The Answer Is Yes

We humans are born with five senses yet we come equipped with zero commonsense. By the crude but effective process known as trial and error, we develop our commonsense over the years with, of course, varying degrees of success. Teenagers are routinely trotted out as examples of creatures who lack such a facility, but one’s age isn’t a fair barometer. Intuition, on the other hand, is like a sixth sense in that we are born with it—yet, it too must be developed before ultimately being trusted and deployed.

The cautious scientist in me can’t help but wonder if intuition is real or if it is more akin to superstition. Any levelheaded skeptic is forced to hold his or her nose while wading through knee-deep funk to get within a horseshoe toss of the truth. On one hand, intuition has been smeared by its involuntary association with the self-help industry which has happily sidled up to it. On the other, it’s been diminished by the just-the-facts crowd who worship Big Data and all that which is quantifiable and who resist uncertainty. But ultimately it seems science supports rather than refutes intuition as does, I venture to guess, almost everyone’s anecdotal evidence.