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Combine analytical thinking and intuition, says scientist

April 14, 2016

A new book titled Connecting Analytical Thinking and Intuition urges scientists to become better at combining analytical thinking and intuition.

'This is necessary in order to successfully meet the major global interdisciplinary challenges,' says the author of the book, Anders Omstedt, professor of oceanography at the University of Gothenburg.

In the book, Omstedt proposes a method to more effectively train students and teachers in communication and in the art of thinking.

'Since we researchers and teachers can be said to be in the business of thinking, it surprises me how little we have discussed how to systematically improve our thinking and our ability to solve interdisciplinary problems,' says Omstedt, professor at the Department of Marine Sciences, University of Gothenburg.

Striving for improved thinking

Analytical critical thinking constitutes the very foundation of higher education and consists of elements such as analysing, evaluating, problem-solving and identifying incorrect arguments, according to Anders Omstedt. This thought process is slow and often requires extensive training, he points out.

'Intuition is an insight, a hunch that you know something without having any evidence or explanations based on your own experience. This can also be trained and is theory-free and fast,' says Omstedt.

He means that connections between analytical thinking and intuition imply being able to listen, evaluate, summarise and appreciating both of these human traits, which leads to a broader and deeper understanding and therefore improved thinking.

Sharing personal experiences

In the book, Omstedt shares his own experiences and describes his work to develop both his analytical and his intuitive thinking as a scientist and as a human being. He says that scientists have to become better at listening and asking open questions and that they can learn a lot from other disciplines, such as literature, psychology, philosophy and art.

'The benefit for us scientists, when we connect science and art, is precisely that we can improve our ability to think. Today, with competition at all levels and major global challenges, scientists need to change their approach and improve their thinking,' says Omstedt.

Interaction between critical thinking and intuition

Analytical critical thinking and intuition should go hand in hand and are beneficial in research, Omstedt claims. The book's subtitle, And the Nights Abound with Inspiration, alludes to the author's involvement in dream groups and work to combine analytical thinking with intuition and emotions.

'Since dreams are sensitive material, the participants in dream groups have to learn to show each other respect. Participants in dream groups also improve their memory, identify with each other's stories, ask open questions and learn to better understand symbols and the meaning of emotions. These things are also very beneficial to scientists and during interdisciplinary communication. The same method can be used in other types of groups, for example in research groups.

The book is meant to encourage students and scientists to study themselves and their motives in order to better understand what drives them.

'Private life and professional life are interlinked, and we need to connect different fields of knowledge. Today most research takes place in separate buckets without communicating vessels, which limits the researchers' ability to contribute to solving the global challenges. Instead they are competing with smart arguments.'
The book Connecting Analytical Thinking and Intuition, And the Nights Abound with Inspiration is published by Springer förlag.


Anders Omstedt
Professor at the Department of Marine Sciences
University of Gothenburg.
46-0-31-786-28-81, 0-709-49-24-77

University of Gothenburg

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