Northampton Electronic Collection of Theses and Research

An evolutionary approach to anomalous intuition

Broughton, R. S. (2010) An evolutionary approach to anomalous intuition. Invited Presentation presented to: 8th Symposium of the Bial Foundation: Behind and Beyond the Brain: Intuition and Decision-making, Porto, Portugal, 07-10 April 2010. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Invited Presentation)
Abstract: Intuition has always been associated with a hint of the anomalous, with credible examples of intuitive knowledge that appear to arise from the future or from distant locations without sensory mediation. Experimental and anecdotal evidence exists to suggest that a complete understanding of intuition will need to include these anomalous aspects of intuition. To that end it is important to recognize that an understanding of anomalous intuition, though presenting considerable challenges to physics and neuroscience, may not require ‘paranormal’ explanations or entities outside the compass of science. Anomalous intuition has traditionally been studied within the field of parapsychology where is it known as extrasensory perception (ESP). One model of ESP proposes two stages. In the first stage, the process, the anomalous information is ‘received’ and in the second stage, the product, the anomalous information is elaborated into conscious awareness and/or behaviour. The process is a challenge primarily for physics, and physicists both within parapsychology and in the mainstream are addressing it. The product, anomalous intuition, is grounded in normal psychological activity and is a problem for psychology and neuroscience to understand. In order to understand how ESP or anomalous intuition works, it is necessary to understand its purpose within an evolutionary context. Evolution has proven exceptionally effective in enabling species to make use of a wide range of physical phenomena for information gathering and communication. If some yet undiscovered physical process permits retrocausation would we not expect evolution to have capitalized on that process. As a product of evolution, ESP would have to conform to the requirements of evolutionary theory. Suddendorf and Corballis (2007) have elaborated the notion of mental time travel (MTT), the memory-based ability to project oneself into the past as well as the future, and have argued that the “ultimate evolutionary advantage” may lie in the capacity to envisage future events. Their model of MTT provides an ideal context in which to understand an evolutionary path for anomalous intuition. Working through the emotional system, anomalous intuition may operate by influencing the selection of memory images we use to execute our MTT. A growing body of data supports the involvement of the emotional system in anomalous intuition but there is only suggestive evidence for the expected hereditary component. The observed limited effectiveness of anomalous intuition may emerge from the balance achieved through an evolutionarily stable strategy, or result from inherent limitations in capitalizing on the underlying physical process
Uncontrolled Keywords: Intuition, extrasensory perception, ESP, evolution, anomalous cognition, precognition
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF1228 Spiritualism > BF1321 Extrasensory perception
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF698 Personality > BF698.95 Evolutionary psychology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology > BF1001 Parapsychology. Psychic research. Psychology of the conscious
Creators: Broughton, Richard S
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Health & Society > Psychology
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Research Centre > Centre for the Study of Anomalous Psychological Processes
Faculties > Faculty of Health & Society > Psychology
Research Centres > Centre for Psychology and Social Sciences
Date: 9 April 2010
Date Type: Presentation
Event Title: 8th Symposium of the Bial Foundation: Behind and Beyond the Brain: Intuition and Decision-making
Event Dates: 07-10 April 2010
Event Location: Porto, Portugal
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished
Refereed: No
References: Suddendorf, T., & Corballis, M. C. (2007). The evolution of foresight: What is mental time travel, and is it unique to humans? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 30(03), 299–313

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