What is intuition?
“Last call! Last call for answers!!”
You look down; there’s nothing on your answer pad.
You look to either side; your team is staring at you in blank-faced panic.
You look at your host; she’s waiting patiently for stragglers, sneaking up with answers.
With nothing to turn in, what do you do? Call it quits? Stay in your seat and let this one go?
Don’t be silly. Trust your gut. After all, there are up to 100 trillion living microorganisms in there backing you up. When presented with a trivia question you don’t immediately know the answer to, you have the benefit of your gut reaction. Your intuition.
Intuition isn’t just a bad Jewel song or a pink lady’s razor. It’s actually the total accumulated knowledge that your brain has shelved away over the years that is now raising its hand and jumping up and down until you pay attention to it. It’s your mind using your gut as a megaphone to scream, “Pick me, pick me!”
The magic of your brain
Even when we are unaware and least suspecting it to happen, our brains are absorbing and processing data, sorting it out, and learning to identify patterns in it. According to social scientist Herbert Simon, Ph.D., this is called chunking. (Where I come from, chunking is what you do to your pumpkins after Halloween, but who am I to judge? The man has a Ph.D., after all.) As we age and time passes, our brains stash away more and more info, linking it up into patterns in our memories for us to access in the future.
Let’s say, at some point in your life, you learned about the broad topic of “Pulitzer Prize-Winning Authors.” “Pulitzer Prize-Winning Authors” would be the larger piece in your brain that was made up of smaller chunks that you’ve picked up from English classes, Jeopardy reruns, and fantastic nights of trivia. So, imagine one night at trivia a question along these lines comes up, “Known for his work in southern literature, what Pulitzer Prize-winning author was born in Mississippi in 1897?” The small chunk of your brain that remembers a southern author, who also won a Pulitzer, might cause you to initially think, “William Faulkner?”. The chunk has nothing to do with someone born in 1897, but it does have to do with Pulitzer Prizes and southern literature. Boom. Your deep-seated memories have struck again, disguised as intuition.
Give it a shot
When our intuition kicks in, our minds are pulling out all of those beautiful little patterns of information and putting them together into a gut reaction that really, really wants you to write down William Faulkner. Is it the right answer? Who knows, but it’s better than leaving that little piece of paper blank.
And that, my friends, is the beauty of using your intuition when playing Last Call Trivia. Unlike other live trivia games, when playing Last Call your team is never penalized for turning in incorrect answers. The wrong answer won’t cost you anything other than little lost dignity with your team. Your score remains the same, even if your brain chunks up something completely wrong.
So go ahead, give it a try. Trust your gut and go with Faulkner. What’s the worst that could happen?