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Intuition vs Psychic Ability: What Is The Difference?

Many philosophers of science have given intuition a place at the table when they might have otherwise forbidden psychic ability from even entering the banquet hall. The Neoplatonic philosopher Plotinus once asserted that intuition was the instrument of illumination, the third degree of knowledge. The French science philosopher and physicist, Henri Poincaré, held that intuition was the vehicle of discovery.

Even diehard skeptic, Carl Sagan, accepted intuition as a “whole-brain knowing” and “a way of understanding” beyond the rational process. Still others have chalked it off to an incidental attribute of sloppy thinking when scientists stumble over something out of sheer good luck that they arrogantly ascribe to fortune.

It also may be that intuition is merely a euphemism for psychic ability that more reductive scientists and philosophers feel comfortable with embracing. Women's intuition, the detective's hunch, the doctor's suspicion, and even intuitive software suggest there's a facet to cognitive processes we don't comprehend. It may be Sagan's “whole brain knowing” is merely a characteristic of the human brain's process of pre-rationally assessing a body of information and arriving at an answer. It may also be that we have a means of addressing the universe that isn't merely done with observation passing on information to an illative analysis.

Intuition seems to at least touch ground in the world of reason, thus it has often been accepted as a concept when psychic has not. Even though there is at least as much real research to support the existence of psychic ability as there is its more socially acceptable sister, intuition, mainstream hard science refuses to acknowledge it as even a stepchild. Intuition can be attributed to a whole brain process but a brain process nonetheless.

What intuition suspects, psychic ability knows. Intuition is the first suggestion of awareness, whereas psychic ability can lay claim to real knowledge, beyond any ability to map its origins. That has always been the problem with psychic ability where science is concerned. Stepping beyond intuition's hunch to the psychic fact is made with what science considers a conceit, which, with the word itself, suggests the more fastidious underpinnings of scientific analysis. It's not that psychic ability doesn't have merits, it's just that any information attained through psychic ability is “bloody impolite” in the realm of scientific theory, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once observed. Thus psychic awareness just doesn't play the game by the rules that science does.

A good example of the difference is easily seen in the case of a woman whose intuition told her there was something wrong with her car. There was nothing she could put her finger on in terms of the way it was acting, there was just something off from its normal behavior. She took the car to her mechanic only to find that there was an unknown problem with the engine that would have resulted in a fire had she pressed on without inquiring into her hunch.

Was this discovery just the lucky find of the mechanic stumbling over something that only seemed to support her intuition? Did she pre-rationally sense something like the scent of her engine burning that her rational mind translated into intuition? Did she use Sagan's whole brain analysis by picking up subtle clues from a whole range of behaviors that led her to know something was wrong with her car?

This example can be set against so many cases of people just knowing something was wrong. They knew someone had died, or something bad or good had happened. There was no way for them to intuit the awareness from any information, and yet they knew it had happened. That may be psychic ability at work. If we play the game by science's rules, it would be seen as a mere coincidence.

Happily, science, in its purest form, doesn't forbid any question or demand any specific answers. We are allowed to leave the question open. All we can say for sure is that intuition and psychic ability may or may not exist. Further inquiry is needed.

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