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How do you trust your intuition if you trained as a scientist?

A question I’m often asked is about how I reconcile a training in science with my trust and confidence in intuition.

Let’s see. Science is the body of knowledge collected thus far through the scientific method of noticing things, coming up with an idea of how they work, testing them, and accepting, rejecting or altering the idea of how it works according to the results of the tests. Science refers to the process of doing science, as well as the body of scientific knowledge itself.

When we have something that has been through this process and has been found to hold true, it gets called ”science”. Sometimes it’s said that such things have been ”proven by science” but in my view science can only demonstrate, not prove (proof being in the domain of mathematics). So we can say that a finding has been demonstrated by the scientific method. And the collection of findings overall is called science.

In addition, my personal experiences and understanding of the world based on theory, practice and experimenting, have led me to trust my intuition and a model of human energies.

So how do I bring these together, or at least stop them arguing with each other?

Whilst I recognise the importance of properly developed science and its methods as the foundation of knowledge that we work from, I also recognise its limitations. Namely, that the science developed so far is the best that we know, according to the information gleaned from the instruments that have been developed, interpreted according to the best models we have so far. Understanding it is important. So is understanding the method and issues of reliability and robustness, as well as scientific consensus (see the captivated climate change skeptics for an example of people who strongly deny human-caused climate change, despite all the studies and evidence accumulated so far).

When it comes to intuition and human energies, I have yet to see the body of knowledge which has come from properly developed methods applied to testing intuition. As we have neither a robust toolset of methods, nor a well-established scientific body of knowledge about intuition or human energies that would come from this toolset, we don’t have such a basis for Intuitive Sciences as we do for other fields of science.

It’s important to note that it’s only the “scientific” body of knowledge that we’re missing: there is a huge body of anecdotal and experiential knowledge, some documented in books and other media, some undocumented and held in people’s minds, hearts and bodies. I’ve met many people, scientists and otherwise, who have had experiences that they struggle or fail to explain with current scientific knowledge. For some, the gap between their own experience and their scientific understanding is left unbridged, an open question. For some, their belief in the impossibility of the intuitive holds fast. I wonder how they tolerate this level of cognitive conflict, their own experience undermining their worldview, but their worldview is intact. Human minds really are quite something. Some go the other way, and reject science as ”irrelevant”, but that is not helpful either.

Unfortunately, I also see some scientists and laypeople with scientific interests, who will strongly, even angrily, deny that intuition could work at all. And since they haven’t yet investigated it, and sometimes not even read anything about it – whether personally or professionally – I don’t see them as having an informed opinion on the subject, nor an informed, objective scientific viewpoint.

Let me add that I don’t think my own viewpoint is yet “scientific” on these matters. I consider myself to be in the “noticing things” and “developing hypotheses” phases of science. Developing tools and applying them to rigorous research would be an ideal next stage in this journey.

The current scientific knowledge is limited, insofar as it concerns only what has been studied so far. If something hasn’t yet been studied, we can keep an open mind about it. “This hasn’t yet been investigated,” we can say. Similarly, science is limited in the sense of the domains that it has encompassed. When something is outside the current scientific body of knowledge, it may still exist – gravity existed before Newton, for instance – and it has yet to be rigorously studied and its behaviour described.

When a worldview, or blind belief, that the intuitive is impossible dominates, research into the intuitive is hard to get off the ground. It’s hard to find scientists to develop methods because they’d lose their reputation in their original field. It’s hard for intuitives to talk to scientists because the intuitives are so used to being rubbished, and yet intuitives would be a great place to start because they’ve been living and breathing and understanding this stuff for years. It’s hard to find a funding body to provide money for the research, hard to get results published in respected journals (if their editorial boards are stuffed with those who believe intuition-is-impossible), hard to find an institution willing to host the research group.

But not impossible 😉

In my experience, science and intuition can co-exist based on understanding them both. Even if you’re a scientist, you can develop trust and confidence in your intuition. Intuition has yet to be understood scientifically, but it works just fine anyhow.

How do you integrate seemingly opposing parts of yourself?

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