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Counterintuition Used as Thinking Inspiration

By Thinkibility

A counterintuitive proposition is one that does not seem likely to be true. Using your intuition or gut feeling it simply does not make sense.

brunette girl making funny face

Brunette girl making funny face on white background. Joy concept

Carefully study the picture below. What do you see? Please, wait for a minute before you answer


It makes sense to believe that there a specific cluster in the picture. We are prone to believe that the random distribution are non-random  – clustering illusion.

Many scientifically discovered theories are often called counterintuitive when intution and  emotions tell us that the suggestion is wrong. Many aspects of general relativity may sound counterintuitive to a non-physicist while a physicist with his or her focus on this aspect of the world may consider it to be intuitive concepts.

Use this list of things that we take for granted to prepare an imaginary mini Ted-Talk about counterintuition. What is a mini-Ted talk?  We could define it as a 5 minute speech.

  • During WWII,  Abraham Wald was asked to help the British decide where to add armor to their bombers. Abraham, a statistician, had only data from planes that returned to Britain, and he  recommended adding more armor to the places where there was no damage.
  • Be willing to start all over again to create something better – self-sabotage to prevent yourself from being complacent.
  • Bottling up your anger may be good (there is a link between anger and biological risks factors for heart disease).
  • 0.99999  . . . equals 1
  • Repeating self-help mantras such as I am a lovable person can do more harm than good.
  • Repeat mistakes until you really learn the lesson. It is tricky to learn something worthwhile after just one try.

    Can you think of situations when the counterintuitive quotes makesr sense? And can you think of any more counterintuitive examples? Click here for inspiration.

    Tips for making a great TED-talk can be found here. It is  a great thinking exercise to imagine that you have to deliver a speech. It helps to focus your attention on vital aspects and to search for ways to deliver a strong message.

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