cover image INTUITION: The Powers and Perils of Our Inner Knowing

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. (Sept.)

Forecast:Myers has written two previous trade books for Yale, A Quiet World: Living with Hearing Loss, and The American Paradox: Spiritual Hunger in an Age of Plenty. Hope College is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, so the book may reach a spiritually oriented readership looking for answers on direct perception, and could make for some grumbling within the ESP community.