from R&D Innovator Volume 2, Number 2
Cappon is a physician in psychological medicine and professor of
environmental studies at York University, Ontario, Canada.
He is developing an Intuition Quotient Test
(IQ2) and has a book, Intuition
(Bedford House Press, 1991),
and invented a board game on this subject.
is the oldest, most vital part of human intelligence.
It is in daily use and accounts for human survival as well
as for the secret of most successes.
think intuition has been reduced to a myth and allowed to sink
into the province of mystics and fringe groups because its
operation is unconscious. In
the course of the evolution of human intelligence, intuition had
to become unconscious for the sake of the brain's economic
evolution of intuition has its seed in ancestral instincts for
survival and adaptation. For
our ancestor's survival, there was no time for thinking or
conscious and laborious logic.
Their responses had to be instantaneous.
The sound of movement in the brush caused an immediate
reaction. Those who failed to respond were removed from the gene pool
by voracious predators. Therefore
these original instincts, now distilled as intuition, had to be
based on a rapid-access fast track system separate from conscious
thought, and unencumbered by hesitation and doubt.
about this time, before speech was born some quarter of a million
years ago. There was little likelihood for full, alert awareness.
Besides hunting, gathering, and preparing food, they
enjoyed satiety and sleep on the one hand, and apprehension on the
other. They must have
lived in a sort of twilight, dreamy state. What we now call myths and figures of speech (like metaphors)
were realities. And
instinctual, now called intuitive, reasoning was their only daily
speech was developed, allowing oral and written tradition and
eventually the transfer of information, the mind sharpened into
the cone of consciousness, and fantasy separated from reality.
And techno-intelligence, stimulated by the evolution of the
human eye, the prehensile hand, and the rapid growth of the ten
billion-celled new brain (the neocortex), began to bend the
environment to suit Man. Thus
logical, speech-promoted intelligence took over at the expense of
this adaptive jumping by compelling the environment to adapt to
it, rather than adapting itself to the environment. The
inventive and creative aspect of techno-intelligence had to be
built on the experiential basis of those instincts.
Hence, there is a parallel system for the
slower-than-survival-oriented emergence of intuition.
This kind of slow-track intuition accounts for human
success in science and technology as much as in the arts and,
indeed, all human endeavors.
the largest function of intuition necessarily rests with social
intelligence rather than techno-intelligence, because humans are
far more variable and their actions are far less scientifically
predictable than the world of things.
To wit, it took less intelligence to land a man on the moon
than it does to resolve the conflict of
a married couple.
the conscious, new brain evolved, with its two cerebral
hemispheres joined by connective nerve fibers (corpus callosum),
the mind had to protect its cone of consciousness—its precious,
concentrated thinking—by thinking about a thing at a time.
The mind thus evolved barriers, dams or censors to protect
that pinpoint of clear, alert reasoning from invasion by items
stored in the brain's memory banks.
These barriers become porous while dreaming, and defective
in psychopathics, schizophrenics, and during collapse to senility.
the admittedly sketchy explanation above, I suggest two indirect
evidences that intuition evolved from instinct.
The first comes from language.
Despite the fact that many people have little respect for
the concept of intuition (in these days of over-reasoning), all of
us, including myself, still refer to it as instinct: "I have
a good instinct for this," or "It was an instinctive
second evidence comes from prehistory.
There could hardly have been much conscious thinking before
speech evolved some 250,000 years ago.
Yet Pith's (Pithecanthropus erectus) ancestry goes back some 4.5 million years.
He could not possibly have survived his predators or such
natural threats as ice ages without intuitive decisions—such as
where to make fire, when to store meat, or when to move to the
highlands for the summer.
today, in daily life, most humans don't exhibit well-reasoned
thoughts, let alone much originality. What do they rely on? Customs,
traditions and intuition. Most
people today don't think at all.
They're too busy being hungry.
Nor are they well enough informed or trained for logical,
deductive reasoning. Their
work and their daily lives are set by habit and their upbringing
best the good things they are doing are dictated in the long run
by gut feeling and judgment (intuitive) calls about right and
wrong. They answer
the burning questions of "why?" by inductive, hence
intuitive, faith. In
the short run of mere survival, only intuition saves them from
accidents, foolish risks, disease and emergency decisions in the
social crises of marriage, childraising, and personal disputes.
Secret of Success
intuition the secret of research
success? Ask any Nobel Prize winner (I asked four) or any great
inventor: "To what capacity do you owe your success?" The more self-assured, the more honest the respondent, the
more success will attributed to intuition.
operates with increasing accuracy only after a longish period of
experience built on inner-derived constructive observation and
married to outer-derived knowledge.
This then becomes the area of expertise in which the skills
of intuition operate with more familiarity, certainty, and
confidence than in hit-and-miss, trial and error areas.
areas of expertise produce guestimates and coincidence.
Hence the sudden emergence of the Aha! or Eureka!—the
feeling of certitude which heralds a valid intuition.
at best produces lucky strikes, not the continual success of
well-trained and well-applied intuition.
today neglects intuition does so at the peril of failure,
especially in the hard-boiled realm of research and development.
The reason is that in every research project, intuition is
crucial at the beginning (the hunch), in the middle (the choice of
optimal method), and in the end (application).
As for a "thing" (an industrial product) coming
into the hands of people, its marketing and selling can hardly be
done without the nose, the Midas touch, the gut
any successful industrial leader!