The Alchemical Science of Intuition

Can you rely on your intuition to make decisions? Yes and no. It’s a no because the question is too broad. It’s a yes when you learn to discern your intuitions that are useful and those that are not. Intuition is not 100 percent infallible.

Discernment is about fine tuning the judgements you make. Which means that you’ll need to fail at times. Bad news for perfectionists.

Trusting and following your intuition involves learning through trial and error. It’s clear that mistakes and failure teach you how to be discerning and to learn from them as much, and if not faster, than getting things right can do.

Failure seems to hit home harder than success. But you don’t need to let perfectionism stifle your intuitive growth. You need to be able to identify the circumstances under which you can act on your intuitions. You want to avoid being sucked in by self-fulfilling prophesies.

Trust your intuition by learning to identify the circumstances in which your intuition is more accurate, and less accurate.
Be the alchemist. Prepare to experiment. On yourself.
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on

Play the role of alchemist. Experiment. Conduct tests. Be prepared to make mistakes. Be more self-objective and less subjective. Aim to identify those circumstances in which your intuition is more accurate, and less accurate. Your brain will then store what you’ve learnt in your long term memory. You can retrieve it when you need to make a useful, snap decision. And boom. Intuition in action.

Joel Pearson, a leading psychologist and neuroscientist, says that your intuitions are generalisations your brain makes based on past experience. In his upcoming book, there are guidelines to follow if you want to identify when and where to follow your intuitions:

1. You don’t need to use your intuition in situations where you lack significant expertise and experience.

2. You don’t need to use intuition when your emotions are high, or in emotionally charged environments.

3. You don’t need to rely on intuition to predict one-in-one-hundred or one-in-a-thousand occurrences.

4. You don’t need to mistake your basic survival instincts like appetite, lust, envy, or fear, for intuition.

5. You don’t need to trust your intuition in new environments.

Studies confirm that you can use your intuition to make faster, more accurate and more confident decisions if you’re cognisant of the circumstances under which you can trust your intuitions. The data shows that people get better at intuiting the more they do it.

Studies have also demonstrated that intuition is real, powerful, but it’s not magic. Although the results of trusting or acting on it might appear that way.

Intuition is not a type of spiritual, sixth sense either. It’s the productive use of your unconscious information, stored in your brain, that guides your decision-making. In the past you might have said that intuition is knowing without proof, but the science is in. Intuition is proof that your unconscious information is working for you.

Sounds like applied wisdom to me.


Hooton, A 2021, Sixth sense: The science behind intuition, < science-behind-intuition-20210304-p577wm.html>/.

Hoover Greenway, K 2021, When – and how – to use your intuition at work, < it>.

Lufityanto, Galang, Chris Donkin, and Joel Pearson. “Measuring intuition: nonconscious emotional information boosts decision accuracy and confidence.” Psychological science 27.5 (2016): 622-634.

Pearson, J 2019, Measuring intuition, <;.