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Intuition or experience? Tacit knowledge in decision making

Published on May 30, 2018 Originally recorded 2011   6 min
0:04
Intuition for us is not anything of cult. It's not ESP or anything like that. But it feels mysterious to people, because they don't know where their intuitions came from. And so, they may sometimes attribute it to types of ESP. What we know is from tacit knowledge, it's from the patterns that they've built up that let them recognize what to do without any deliberate conscious basis for those kinds of impulses, those kinds of reactions.
0:37
So for us, intuition boils down to tacit knowledge. That's different from explicit knowledge, which is facts, or procedures, or routines, although even not all routines are straightforward. The tacit knowledge tends to be less visible to us, tends to fall into things like pattern recognition, to notice a pattern, so that if you have to meet a friend who you haven't seen for 20 years at a restaurant, you look around the restaurant and you immediately recognize your friend's face. Even though it's 20 years later, it's not any specific features but you just recognize, "Yeah, that's my friend, all right." Or perceptual discriminations. Example would be, let's take an Olympics event like diving. And so, we're watching a diving contest and one of the contestants is performing a dive. As they enter the water, the commentator will say, " Ha, it's too bad, the dive is going well but her ankles came apart just at the end, and that's why you've got such a big splash". And sure enough, they show it in slow motion, and that's what happened. But they saw it before the slow motion replay, they saw it as it happened. They could make discriminations that were invisible to us. Mental models, we don't know what our mental models are, we just use them. And I can tell you from experience, my mental model of what's going on inside a house that's burning down is different from a firefighter's. I'm looking at the fire. They're looking at not just the fire but which way it's moving, whether it's growing or decreasing, what happens to it when they put water on it. What about the construction of the house? How is the house built? Where are the main supports? Is the fire affecting those? They're imagining the inside of the house. They have a different mental model than I do. And finally, ability to judge typicality. There's no rules for typicality. It's based on the number of trials, the number of experiences you have to say, "Yup, I've seen these sorts of things before". Or there's an anomaly, "This looks odd. I haven't seen it before. I wonder what's going on here." So, that's what we mean by intuition, and that's why it's so important to decision-making. This we think is important. But would you really be willing to trust your life to your intuition? Would you be willing to do that? And the answer is, of course you would be! Because you are already do it. You do it every day.
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Intuition or experience? Tacit knowledge in decision making

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