Saturday, February 25, 2012


I love to go to on mushroom trips. There are not many mushrooms I can, but there are 5-6 spieces I manage to keep apart. Every fall I use many afternoons after work to find mushrooms. Many pounds of mushrooms are frozen each autuum so that winter dishes can be spiced up with the golden gift fro the forrest and gives memories of all the mushroom trips the year before. When I'm looking for mushrooms, I do not do this scientifically. This would involve collecting data about the area I walk in, divide the area into sections and perform a thorough analysis of each field. My mushroom walks are characterized by more random walking. I can walk around in the woods, I see the trees and the forest floor, I use my sense of smell, I feel with my feet how the ground is, and all of the sudden I know that there's mushrooms in the area. I can just look down and discover lots of funnel chanterelle. I call this an intuition for mushrooms. A gut feeling I have that I cannot explain scientifically. Over many years of experience with mushrooms, I know the signs of mushroom terrain. Its almost become a part of my instincts.
Parents feel often the same thing with their children. A mother may have a gut feeling that a son or daughter who lives away from home is ill and calls to ask if all is well. It turns out (sometimes) that the child is sick. "How did you know that I was sick" asks the child. "I just felt it on my body that something was wrong and had to call" says the mother. I have experienced this many times as a parent. It's just weird every time. There is a link between parents and children which is embodied and can not be explained otherwise than that it is an irrational gut feeling.

Intuition (from Lat. Intueri 'consider') is an immediate feeling one has in a situation. It is characterized not by a scientific and analytical, logical testing of hypotheses. It's just a gut feeling of what is right or what should be done in a given situation. And it is typical that one can not give a good reason for why this is so.

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
As a researcher, I have a intiusjon. I have to use it with caution and not let it get out of control, at least not all the time. My scientific intuition comes up when I search for findings in a large set of data. I know that there is something exciting in the material, something important. I know where to look, but can not explain why. And then all of the sudden my findings are visualized. Ureka! Look, I found something! I do not know what I've found yet, but I'm sure it's an important discovery. Many great scientific discoveries have been made in this way. When German scientist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovered X-rays in 1895, he did not know what it was, but he had a gut feeling that it was something important. He experimented with electricity and actually discovered rays that had not seen before. Since he did not know what he had found, he called them X-rays. He even received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery, even if he felt it was undeserved and refuse to give a speech during the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm. He wouldn't take out a patent for the discovery ether because he felt he had discovered something that was already there, and when he had discovered it, he could not explain what he had found. But he still has the honor of having found it.  The scientist Thomas Edison (the light-bulb guy) was more of a businessman than Röntgen and took out a patent on X-ray detection and made a fortune on it. Edison had a intiusjon (gut feeling) for where there was money to be made in science and took out 2332 patents (of which 1093 in the U.S.) on scientific discoveries and inventions. Following ones intuition in business has for many others led to bankruptcy and tragedies. The only thing that is safe to say about intuition is about hindsight. There will always be someone who says: "What did I say?" and they call it intuition.

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