The Screwtape Emails: Intuition is a Two-Edged Sword
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Subject: Much About Nothing
My dear Wormwood,
The sword has been used both to do good, and for horrible evil, and it is a good metaphor for something the humans call “intuition.” Much like a weapon, its power—and conversely, its danger—lies in how one uses it.
You must influence the Patient to use intuition to his own harm. The two edges of this “sword” consist of the dichotomy between over-dependence on one’s intuition all the way to completely ignoring it. Indeed there are two different ways to define intuition:
- Pseudo-intuition: A hunch based on feelings and/or guesswork.
- Authentic intuition: Insights based on the subconscious mind’s ability to inform the conscious mind based on synthesis of multiple pieces of evidence and data.
I’m sure even you can see that making major decisions based upon feelings or guesswork is pure folly, so by all means, encourage such behavior in the Patient. Give him just enough successes with this haphazard approach to have him believing a hunch is an excellent guide.
A second, and just as effective approach is to convince the Patient that only hard data and left-brained, analytical reasoning is valid. Have him brush aside authentic intuition and conflate it with mere hunches.
It’s said that there’s nothing more powerful than a strategic mind informed by intuition, and it’s true. Years of experience working with data, human behavior and other inputs can and will create the ability to recognize patterns and metanarratives because the subconscious mind is a powerful thing.
Even if the Patient learns to listen to his intuition, all is not lost. If he fails to regularly test those intuitions, compare them to the data and verify results, he can easily fall into the trap of being unable to distinguish authentic intuition from pseudo-intuition.
See how easily one can be led into one ditch or another. If the Patient were to hitch his wagon to both reason and intuition, our cause would be in jeopardy. But if he uses one to the exclusion of the other, his endeavors will eventually end up in the ditch. Right or left…either will do fine.
Your affectionate uncle,
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