INTUITION: The Powers and Perils of Our Inner Knowing
David G. Myers, . . Yale Univ., $24.95 (336pp) ISBN 978-0-300-09531-9
With humor and warm disinterestedness, Myers, professor of psychology at Michigan's Hope College, marshals cognitive research on intuition, or "our capacity for direct knowledge, for immediate insight without observation or reason"—or what is sometimes called ESP. He finds that the mind operates on two levels, "deliberate" and "automatic." The nondeliberate mode (aka the intuitive) can be an effective way of knowing and doing, helping us empathize with others, intuit social cues or perform rote tasks like driving cars. It can also lead us astray: illusory correlations, self-fulfilling prophecies, dramatic anomalies and other misleading heuristics may feel like direct perception, but are not. Statistically random events may appear to have patterns, but "random sequences are streaky." The book treats scientific method as an attractive intellectual tool and shuns "truth is personally constructed" evasions; it is thus delightfully readable and deliberately provocative.
Reviewed on: 06/24/2002