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System 0: The overlooked explanation of expert intuition.


This chapter concerns expert intuition, the coping skill that develops in a domain after an individual with innate talent has considerable learning experience accompanied by an awareness of the quality of each performance. Commonly, but not exclusively, such skill involves a sequence of behaviors. Examples of this sort of skillful coping include driving a car on an empty road, reading and understanding the nuances of social situations, a chess master making moves during a game of fast chess and the actions of an experienced firefighting team commander. These particular examples are designated as ‘expert intuition’ and are listed among examples of fast thinking in the recent bestselling book Thinking, fast and slow by Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman (2011: 11, 21–22). Three of these examples are of conventionally recognized skills, but the one involving social behavior is also typical of what I have in mind. Acting or reacting in familiar sorts of situations such as in the examples above, I shall argue, should not be regarded as ‘decision making,’ ‘thinking’ or ‘mental activity’ in the conventional usage of these terms. In fact, most of our adult life is spent exhibiting learned intuitive forms of expertise that are so effortless that they are taken for granted. They are cases of individuals knowing automatically, quickly and effortlessly how to proceed in situations without being able to explain their performance.

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