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So, Experts Have Something To Say About Your Intuition's Accuracy

Intuition: direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension; a fact, truth, etc., perceived in this way; a keen and quick insight

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Recently, I found myself intrigued by the article "Women's Intuition: Myth or Reality?" Because I've witnessed women do some amazing and also straight-up crazy things, both under the guise of their intuition, I wanted to see what a professional had to say about it.

I must admit that when I first saw that it was a man who wrote the piece, I was tempted to give a bit of side-eye. But I must say, a lot of what he shared was actually quite insightful. The CliffsNotes were, because we as women are better at picking up on non-verbal communication cues (facial expressions, body language, etc.), and also because we're more open than men are on an overall emotional level, that makes us more tapped into what folks are thinking and feeling than (most) guys are. At the same time, the author also said that while this makes us more skilled at non-verbal communication, he wasn't completely sold on if "intuitive" was the word that should be used. Therefore, I decided to dig deeper.

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Next, I checked out what a neuroscientist had to share on the topic of whether or not we could trust our gut instincts or intuition. Keep in mind that it's a neuroscientist talking so it's not exactly black-and-white reading, but what did catch my attention was this—"Because intuition relies on evolutionarily order, automatic and fast processing, it also falls prey to misguidances, such as cognitive biases."

Meaning, like an article that I penned for the site on gut instincts a while back, relying solely on your intuition can cause you to be a pretty presumptuous individual. Impulsive too, if you're not careful.

Another article said that one reason why we shouldn't get too cocky about our intuition is because it oftentimes can be mistaken for overthinking. Here's an illustrative scenario. Your man sends three of your calls to voicemail one night, you see him two days later, confront him about it and he breaks eye contact as he stumbles through his words. You've been cheated on before, so your intuition is telling you that could be what's going on now. Once it gets to this point, oftentimes one set of people will immediately react while the other will "feed the monster", so to speak, and stew on it. They will set up a stalker IG account to see what their guy's been up to. They will Google track his whereabouts. They will talk to 10 different people and only retain the convos from the ones who agree with their hypothesis. They will mull over it all for days on end. So much to the point that, by the time they see their man again, they are in full accusation mode and totally ready to call it quits—all the while saying that they are following their intuition. Brother.

Why are a lot of people like this? Some are just uber-dramatic and/or have a lot of baggage that they are carrying around (cue Erykah's "Bag Lady" here). But for those who aren't, there is a bit of a scientific reason; especially when it comes to women. The reason why a lot of us overthink is because there's a greater amount of blood (which means nutrients and energy) that flows to the prefrontal cortex part of our brain; it's the part that is responsible for feelings like empathy, concern and yes, intuition. OK, so that sounds like we are designed to be intuitive, right? Kinda.

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According to even more scientific research in this area, it is true that we are able to make faster decisions when we rely on our intuition and oftentimes, those decisions are accurate. That's the good part. However, researchers also warn that sometimes intuition is nothing more than wishful thinking or projecting your feelings onto something—or someone. It's the someone part that made me want to pen this piece to begin with.

I don't know about you, but a lot of people I know who profess to do just about everything based on their intuition are also individuals who think they know others, even better than those individuals know themselves; that because they are so "intuitive", they are basically mind-readers. They know what their significant other really means, even if it is totally different from what they actually say. They know what their friend is truly up to, even if their friend has stated the complete opposite. They know all of what the future holds simply because they "feel it in their bones"—all because of their uncanny intuition.

If that is you, not so fast. Something that a therapist who has conducted studies and focus groups on mind-reading has stated is no matter how much we may pride ourselves on picking up non-verbal signs, unless we straight up ask for the information that we seek, oftentimes what we perceive is totally different from the actual facts; that most of us aren't as "in touch" with reading others as much as we think that we are.

That makes sense too when you think about the actual dictionary definitions of for "intuition". Did you notice how the first one (provided here) said that it's about having a perception of truth that doesn't include reasoning? Reasoning is "the process of forming conclusions, judgments, or inferences from facts or premises". Why should anyone feel overly confident about always operating from that space? They shouldn't. No one should. Folks do it all of the time, though. Unfortunately.

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An example that the therapist gave was showing up five minutes late to meet someone and the person not having a welcoming look on their face. While you may think it's because they are upset with you, it could be that they just got off of an unsettling phone call, their server was rude or they're simply not feeling well. Since your intuition is telling you that it's you, you may already be hyper-sensitive or on the defensive. That can make the energy of the meeting go all kinds of wrong. Only by asking can you know for sure what's up. Yet sadly, because a lot of people who lean so hard on their intuition don't ask, they tend to make quite a few mistakes when it comes to how they communicate with others (whether they choose to admit it or not); especially if they are operating from an anxious place or they think in a way that is biased.

So, what does all of this boil down to? Does intuition exist? Yes. Do women have more of it than men? When it comes to reading non-verbal communication, yes.

When it comes to assuming, presuming and reading people's minds, most of us are cockier than we need to be—and functioning in that space can do more harm than good. And no, a woman's intuition isn't always right. When we are anxious or biased, it can be wrong. Very wrong.

I already know. Some of y'all are going to be like, "Girl, bye. My intuition is totally on point." Maybe it is. Maybe it ain't. But when it comes to dealing with other people, how about asking them about what your intuition is telling you? That's one (humble) way to know for sure. Hmph.

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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