The news is reporting today that an 81-year-old Englishman woke up after three weeks following a stroke speaking fluent Welsh. The surprise was that, although he lived in Wales as an adult, he didn’t speak Welsh before. The doctors couldn’t understand what he was saying, and needed his wife who speaks Welsh to translate.
This kind of thing has happened before. If, as a result of a brain trauma of some kind, the speech center in the brain is altered slightly, the person may discover that they know things of which they had been completely unaware. MRI brain scans suggest that for almost all of us, we are unaware of as much as 85% of what is locked in our brain.
It’s the kind of discovery that makes me take intuition much more seriously. So many of us tend to think that science and reason are the only valid ways of learning. But we know so much more than we know we know. I think intuition is often a result of some sense we have without being able to access consciously why we are suggesting that possibility.
It’s not that intuition doesn’t have to be checked out against the evidence as much as any scientific theory. Intuition can be just as wrong as any scientific hypothesis. My intuition that someone is uninterested may be a mistaken interpretation when someone is tired. An intuition that you are lying may be a misinterpretation of fear. The potential examples are limitless.
So I don’t trust intuition as an infallible act of faith. But I listen these days.
I might be telling myself something worth listening to.