If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and has feathers like a duck…it’s very likely to be a duck. This truism speaks to an observation about the difficulty in hiding the obvious facts from those who are aware enough to see through the deception. However, there might be something deeper going on. Let me elaborate…
The link below is supposed to be a humour site and maybe that’s all it is, but there is something in this article which, if true, is something amazing. Take a look at point #2 in this page.
To quote from the article: “Back in 1986, when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff, the stock market immediately reacted by selling the stocks of the four main contractors that were involved in building the spacecraft. But experts noticed something odd in the buying and selling habits of all of those millions of traders. Three of the contractors’ stock saw only minor losses, ending the day with an average loss of 3 percent. Yet the fourth company, an outfit called Morton Thiokol, had their stock end down by a whopping 12 percent.
It was clear that the investors blamed them (or their components) for the accident, even though the news coverage had in no way fingered them as the culprit. The press did have some rumours about what caused the accident, but no one was implicating Thiokol above any of the other companies. It took a Washington blue ribbon commission six months to figure out that, sure enough, Morton Thiokol was responsible. It took the faceless mass of investors one day.”
There is something intuitive about the wisdom of crowds. There is a balance of probabilities at play, or perhaps if enough people view the same evidence and think about it from their own perspective, something like a truth can begin to emerge. Of course, propaganda wouldn’t work at all if this was always true, but every now and then the instinctual reaction of many people at once turns out to be reliable. The investors didn’t know for sure that Thiokol was to blame with anything like certainty or any evidence at all, but the intuition proved to be right in this case, when tested according to the standards of fact-based proof necessary. How about that?
Before concluding that I believe crowds to always be right, I don’t think that at all. They’re often wrong. They’re often swayed. They’re often distorted by years of constant indoctrination along pre-configured lines. As in the Salem witch trials, the reaction of a crowd can be wholly and catastrophically wrong, leading to egregious miscarriages of justice. Crowd wisdom is not one hundred percent reliable at all. On the other hand, as demonstrated by the Space Shuttle case, sometimes the collective intuition is right on the money.
It’s very easy to dismiss all people that smell a rat, when told some version or other of events, as mere conspiracy theorists. I was and remain very sceptical of conspiracy theories, but I am coming around to the view that even though there may be no hard evidence or proof for something, if enough people have the same gut reaction to it, without knowing why, there might be something deeper to it. We’re taught, with good reason, to mistrust mystics, hunches, intuition, gut feelings and instinct, but I don’t think it is right to wholly ignore the evidence of your senses and your honest reaction to what you sense. It’s not proof that intuition offers, in the conventional sense, but it might be a clue. It might be more than a clue. It could be the answer, if only you can suspend your belief in the media’s objectivity and several assumptions you might hold dear about the integrity of those in authority. If you leave all that prejudice aside and open your mind to how you, as an unconscious but sentient being, have spontaneously processed the information available, you might be lead to very different conclusions.
I trust this instinct when I create works of art. Something deep and not in the forefront of my mind supplies me with ideas, inventions, thoughts, opinions, aesthetic judgements, artistic taste and insights and I have no conscious idea from where they came. All I know is that by tuning in to that “other self”, listening to the dialogue it generates and not drowning it out with the logical mind’s dominant, critical, inner voice, I’ve discovered that I can trust my intuitive mind and that it rarely lies to me. It makes little attempt to deceive me. It likes to throw me a bone, when I am stuck on something. It composes my music for me, when I am asleep. It tells me when I have made an error or behaved in a wrong way. It thinks of answers to hard problems and suggests which colours will work with others. If your intuition becomes this friendly and helpful to you and you learn to hear its opinions as valid, you can go quite a lot further than you could with a logical, experimental, evidence-based train of thought alone. In fact, you can cut to the chase much more quickly, and then use your logical, scientific methods and faculties to test what your intuition has already told you. It’s amazing how often your intuition is vindicated.
This is often what psychologists and coaches tell you to do. Visualise, trust your unconscious mind, let the intuition tell you what it knows, and then believe it enough to test its ideas. You can astound yourself.
Your intuition and the intuition of crowds can be a very powerful force, if harnessed carefully. Learn to listen to it and to take its advice, but always use your rational mind to validate it. If you can learn to do that, you will find your insight into your own art and process improves immediately. Try it.