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Science and Intuition

Photo by Ivan Obolensky

One of the foundations of science has been the concept of Cause and Effect. Science isolates the precise causes of specific effects through observation. Out of these relationships come scientific laws.

Example: a white ball collides with a red ball, and the red ball moves.

This demonstration of cause and effect is simple and logical. It is also frequently observed.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, life is more complicated.

Example: Bob meets Barbara because Bob’s friend, John, arranged for them to meet. Something sparks between them, and the rest is history. One can conclude that John was causal in their subsequent relationship, but without the spark between them, nothing would have happened. In this instance, John was necessary but not the complete cause of the effect.

The above example is easily understood but logically more complicated because the effect has more than one cause.

Much less easily understood and logically far more complicated are acausal interactions.

Example: Your friend has a new telephone number, and it’s urgent that you reach him, only you’ve forgotten the last four digits. Now what? You’re on a street corner, and a car goes by. The license number has the digits 4376. An advertisement on a storefront says an item costs only $43.76. The number 4376 is written in chalk on the side of the building in front of you. You turn on your phone, and the calculator function displays the number “4376” as the last entry. Since that is just strange, you call your friend using those digits, and your friend answers.

This is also called serial coincidence and is not as uncommon as one might think.

It is an acausal connection because we can observe the effect, but the cause can’t be determined. On top of that, there is no logical way to describe what has happened. All we can point to for the reason we dialed that number is that we used our intuition to make the connection.

Intuition is powerful, and so is science. The problem with both is they don’t always function in the way we wish. Intuition doesn’t always work, and science can’t always explain.

The question is why?

In truth, we really don’t know, and that is supremely fortunate. We can now make the attempt to find out, and who knows where that will lead? It’s like being on an adventure.

To quote Albert Einstein:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.”

Given that, let us sally forth.

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