On which side of the fence are you? In a time of decision do you follow your gut or evidence? Many times when I am in a dilemma and don’t know what to choose, I use to get “follow your gut” as advice. On the other side, data are getting more recognition. Historical evidence and pattern are the backbones of forecasting and business strategies. How much can we rely on data? Can our gut mislead us, and how much merit can we give it?
Follow your Gut
As a person who is spiritual, I believe in life and its guidance. During a guided meditation, the speaker always asks the meditator to tap into intuition. There are many meditations targeting the third eye chakra. Many religions including Christianity push us to follow our feelings. We believe that through them we might receive messages or warnings. For instance, many mothers express a weird disturbing feeling when they are away from their children and the child is in danger. Also, did it happen to you, that you randomly start thinking about a person and when you get in touch, they share with you some news? In addition, psychologically when you are more convinced about something you will feel more at ease about it. Therefore, your gut might be a measure of your confidence.
Even though sometime our gut might give us some insights, it doesn’t have any reasonable explanation. I can’t imagine the responsible of a state or CEO following their gut for every decision they make. I am also an overthinker so I get anxious about anything. In this case, how can I identify between meaningless overthinking and my intuition? Following our gut doesn’t have any base or rule, it can’t be explained nor justified, so how can we assume accountability, or evaluate a wrong decision if it is driven by a gut feeling?
Follow the Evidence and Data
Data doesn’t account for unexpected events or future situations.
Data is the accumulation of previous records. They might show patterns and give insights. Analysing data will provide a baseline for any decision as data can be explained and justified. If data are so reasonable, why do they sometimes miss predicting the future? Data depends on the environment they were taken in. In addition, they won’t take into consideration unexpected events or situations! For example, after reading every review and rating, a girl decided to go do her nails at a top-reviewed salon. Despite the good review, the girl didn’t enjoy her experience and she left angry. Why? For many reasons: 1) the worker had a very bad day and she wasn’t herself at work 2) the girl was already pissed at something and she was frustrated 3) the technique used in the salon wasn’t the girl’s favourite…
Data can be interpreted in several ways
With the same set of data, people might come up with different or even opposite decisions. Personal values and priorities contribute to the way the data is perceived. Let’s take covid measures as an example. During covid, all countries’ leaders had an access to the WHO data. They were able to see the number of worldwide cases and death, yet leaders didn’t have the same measures at first. New Zealand Prime minister decided to close the country and impose strict measures to inhibit the virus from spreading. As for the UK prime minister, he took the mass immunity approach, so he was the last to impose measures. The same thing applies to vaccination and masks usage. Having the same access to data, people developed their points of view based on their priorities.
Data can lead to a limiting belief
As much comfort as it can bring, data might trap us. Several revolutionary ideas wouldn’t have been initiated if the founder relied on data. Eventually, data is limited when it comes to new ideas. When Tesla started, few believed in the idea and thought that combustion cars are irreplaceable. If Elon Musk didn’t follow his passion and trusted his vision, the electric car revolution would have not been initiated. Data might drive us away from our dream or make us drop trying to achieve a goal.
Facing any decision, people might choose to follow their gut or evidence. Our gut can’t be justified or reasoned which makes a decision less supported and difficult to learn from. On the other side, data can’t be a rigid base for every decision as it doesn’t take into consideration dependable variables or potential risk and it might be influenced by personal perspective. If neither method is 100% reliable, what can we follow? Let me know in the comment below. What do you rely on the most: your intuition or data?
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