An intuition is a type of complex instinct

I will use “instinct” according to the first three dictionary definitions here:

noun
1. an inborn pattern of activity or tendency to action common to a given biological species.
2. a natural or innate impulse, inclination, or tendency.
3. a natural aptitude or gift:
“an instinct for making money.”
4. natural intuitive power.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/instinct

I think the fourth definition will eventually be part of the operational definition for creativity.

We shall define a “simple” instinct as being one that is common to individuals of a species who have developed normally. For example, we don’t need to grow up on the Sahara to experience a fear response to big animals with big sharp teeth. This is an instinct which we inherit as a natural part of human development.

When women say “intuition” what they mean is this simple sort of instinct. The difference is only qualitative (simple vs. complex), but speaking practically when a girl says she has a gut feeling about X you should understand it as being on the same level as “my gut tells me I’m not attracted to that nerdy guy”. That is not intuition any more than jerking one’s hand away from a hot stove is an intuition.

I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a woman use the word “intuition” in the way men use the term. When, if ever, a man uses the term “intuition”, he tends to mean it in the way that I will describe (unless he is being sardonic or intentionally obfuscatory).

A “complex” instinct is one which combines multiple simple instincts into a more abstract one. Maybe I’ve used the example of “spotting” a Ponzi scheme before, but I will use it again because it’s a very good example. No one is born with the ability to perceive a pyramid scheme- in fact, its existence is contingent on the opposite. This must be learned. There are many people who have yet to learn what a Ponzi scheme is or how to properly behave around one.

Well I take one thing back. It does seem like melonheads are born with the Ponzi scheme genetically encoded.

Now, spotting a Ponzi scheme requires many such “simple” instincts at once. For instance, it requires the ability to perceive cause and effect. It requires the ability to assign human intention to actions. And on and on. But the actual process of “spotting” could be measured in milliseconds (comparable to a simple reflex like in those reflex vs. IQ tests). It happens in the flash of an eye- much less time than we’d expect for all of these little instincts to send information to the white matter network to compute a rational response. Rather, we “see” the Ponzi scheme and we internally feel ourselves withdraw emotional investment from present company as fast as snatching a hand away from something hot.

This sort of response can only occur by System 1 in Kahneman lingo. It is a learned heuristic which has somehow become hardcoded between our perceptual hardware and the midbrain. In this example the amygdala; for different examples, maybe the reticular activating system. When I have previously talked about perceptual “forms”, this is what I meant. So go back into your saved copies of all my previous blog posts (shhh I know you have them) and find-replace “forms” with complex instincts.

The title is now self-descriptive. An intuition is one sort of complex instinct, but not the only sort.

This will serve later in distinguishing between the sorts of intelligence conferred by healthy production of gray matter and healthy production of white matter.

Update: I may have given the impression that women do not experience complex instincts or intuitions. That is not true, and they are quite capable of spotting Ponzi schemes. But they would refer to this as “good sense” or “I have a bad feeling” or something like that, whereas they use “intuition” to say “instinct” in a way that sounds nicer.

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32 Responses to An intuition is a type of complex instinct

  1. automatthew says:

    It is a learned heuristic which has somehow become hardcoded between our perceptual hardware and the midbrain.

    When I have previously talked about perceptual “forms”, this is what I meant. So go back into your saved copies of all my previous blog posts (shhh I know you have them) and find-replace “forms” with complex instincts.

    Are you familiar with Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas of “morphic fields” and “morphic resonance”? He goes the opposite direction from the materialist reductionism implied by the first sentence.

    The elevator pitch: morphic fields are neo-Aristotelian forms, entelechies that interact through resonance with similar entelechies, unbounded by time and space. All the entities of the universe are composed of/formed by hierarchies of morphic fields, from electrons, to molecules, to cells, to tissues and organs, to distinct organisms, to instincts, to learned behaviors, to societies, and on and on.

    Email me if you trust me to send you my extra copy of a book.

    • automatthew says:

      Forgot to say this: the implication of “morphic resonance” is that closely related organisms tune into each other’s morphic fields. It’s apparently difficult to crystallize a newly synthesized chemical, but once someone finally gets it to crystallize, it becomes easier worldwide, the more the chemical is produced (allegedly). Once some humans have developed an intuition for detecting Ponzi schemes, the hypothesis predicts that it will become easier for other humans to detect them.

      • Aeoli Pera says:

        > It’s apparently difficult to crystallize a newly synthesized chemical, but once someone finally gets it to crystallize, it becomes easier worldwide, the more the chemical is produced (allegedly).

        Offhand, I don’t believe that anymore than I believe Koanic’s recent hybridization thing. But I don’t understand it either, so I withhold judgment.

      • Sam says:

        I’m not so sure I believe in “morphic fields” and “morphic resonance” either but I don’t disbelieve. I’ve read some of this stuff a long time ago and there were a lot of weird data points that could only be explained by something like this. ESP is the same. Evidence shows it to be statistically true but it’s hard to nail it down practically.

        I have the idea that there has to be some special point in time or extreme action for this spooky stuff to make itself evident. War, big accidents, high stress…

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >Are you familiar with Rupert Sheldrake’s ideas of “morphic fields” and “morphic resonance”?

      No, but I seem to remember somebody else in the whack-o-sphere talking about that.

      >He goes the opposite direction from the materialist reductionism implied by the first sentence.

      I am only a material reductionist sometimes for convenience. My actual belief now is that the material world is a geometric projection of the greater supernatural world. A literal shadow, in other words. I punch you, my shadow also punches your shadow, etc.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      >Email me if you trust me to send you my extra copy of a book.

      I will do that, but I have no idea what that has to do with trust.

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  3. Edenist whackjob says:

    Is recognizing “the Cathedral” in things a really complex instinct, then?

    Detecting PC while reading a newspaper editorial or while listening to a university lecture is quite easy. But there’s many subtle levels. I’m playing a computer game called “Divinity: Original Sin”. In it, one of the quests is to go and procure sex with a male prostitute (who turns out to be hostile toward you). If you try and have sex with the equivalent female NPC it turns out you she is not a sex-worker at all, clever euphemisms notwithstanding, and her real profession is actually telling bed-time stories.

    This is PC because:

    1) The idea of a female (my player character) hiring a male hooker is pretty fictional in and of itself, and an example of equalist thinking (ie that men and women think alike about sex) . It’s totally fine to have an actual male hooker, in the game though.

    2) We’re not allowed to see a female hooker because that would be oppressive. Women are a protected minority.

    Or maybe I’m reading too much into it?

  4. Edenist whackjob says:

    Another one: recognizing sleazy salesmen.

    Some traits:

    1) Nasal voice, vocal fry, “slimy” pattern of articulation. There are variants, but you know it when you hear it.
    2) Being a bit “pushy” in conversation, not just holding back and describing things, problem-solving or querying out of genuine curiosity, but rather actively trying to fill the air.
    3) Speaking above their pay grade on concepts. Putting up a Potemkin facade of knowledgeability. Someone trying to sell me on a gig might talk about how it’s very suited for full stack developers like me, and that the company is using NodeJs and Big Data. No real understanding beyond that of a merchant trying to allocate buyers and sellers.
    4) If they tell stories, they lack weight to an ingenopath. You might not actively think of them as liars, but their information will not be added to your neural network and lead to a drive for action. It will be kind of in a DMZ-land where unsubstantiated claims live.
    5) Just having a sleazy “energy” about them. Maybe people who talk about energy are describing something real, or maybe “energy” is just a gestalt that the complex instinct engine uses to grasp things.
    6) A feeling that they are always holding something back from you. The good ones will try to create some false sense of openness so that YOU will gush forth your inner thoughts.
    7) Phrenology, obviously.
    8) They are actively socializing in an instrumental way (using people as pawns). Ie going around and finding out things about people which they can use later (what you’re doing right now, who you know, your background, stuff like that). Many times this is actually useful, but in me this triggers a feeling of tiredness, as if the person is some kind of automaton pretending to care. I can go into the same mode myself if need be, but it triggers the feeling of tiredness toward myself and I need to recharge later.

    For me, recognizing a sleazy salesman leads to rage. This is regrettable, because 1) it’s often motivated by my own egoic desire to feel rage and 2) people are different, and salesmen fill a function and 3) it’s bad because not stoicism. A good counter-koan is to think of them as merchant NPCs in an RPG – they are just doing their job.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      I think this is primarily the reason many people dislike PUAs. If they were just giving advice, there would be no “PUAhate”, but they piss a lot of people off by also being sleazy.

  5. Edenist whackjob says:

    Another one for me: seeing things as Clueless (in the Ribbonfarm sense).

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      Hmm, maybe I would be less frustrated if I actually verbalized this to myself when I see it. I’m surrounded by it constantly and it tends to run me down.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        For me, a lot of my cognitive thought loops are Clueless in nature. Reminding myself to go Sociopath helps.

        Clueless is very static/essentialist whereas Sociopath is more fluid/process-oriented. It’s less painful to suck for a Sociopath (although it’s less ego-boosting to be awesome as well, since you can never say “I *am* awesome”). Clueless stick around and play the same games over and over again, hoping to find some new juxtaposition of their identity-pieces against the rules-of-the-game backdrop that will allow them to transcend and level up. Sociopaths just find the cheat code. You give up the advantages of Isness/essentialism, but negative thought loops are much easier to overcome. In this sense, Koanic is a Clueless thinker who actually *has* some success at winning the game by juxtapositioning within the rules (ie how he constructs koans to break free of inner Isness contradictions and I’m-not-allowed-to-do-that-thing blockages). It’s not supposed to work but I guess he pulls it off. The Sociopath approach, of course, is to just ignore the rules, throw out pretensions of identity and Meaning. Becoming Slightly Evil, as Venkatesh puts it.

      • Edenist whackjob says:

        ” In this sense, Koanic is a Clueless thinker who actually *has* some success at winning the game by juxtapositioning within the rules ”

        Using more Rao terminology, the recent baboon thing would be an example of a heavy Guardian having an insight explosion by doing a bit of Trade. Imagine if you could import one new type of chess piece to the game – instant combinatorial explosion of new moves, and potential to unlock all kinds of deadlocks. But be a total Trader and you don’t have chess anymore. So, in this sense, the Sociopath’s game is more like free-form RPGing.

        I guess the chess analogy confuses things. Think of it more like “mental artefacts whose nature are fairly fixed for me, but which I can rearrange according to certain rules”. Ie melons, thals, cro-mags, etc. Adding the monkeys recently was like inventing a new chess piece.

  6. Edenist whackjob says:

    There are probably fundamental instincts that can express in different ways, influencing complex instincts. I have a negative and distrustful disposition to most everything, for instance. My general gut feeling is that things are broken, unpleasant, and out to get me.

  7. Aeoli Pera says:

    We’ve already got more weirdos than we’ve shown the ability to manage. Getting even one of us to calm down and stick to the same gameplan two days in a row is like winning the lottery. I.e. I’d recommend keeping the day job.

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