Incorrect Use of "Counter-Intuitive": Arrrgh!!
I turn my attention to a pet peeve today, one I wrote about last year. Once again, this time in the advice section of the March issue of Oprah's O Magazine, Martha Beck's 5 pieces of advice are hyped as: "Are they counterintuitive?" This seems to be a stylish new hip term these days — one that many media people throw around without really understanding what it means. They are using it to mean "illogical," describing something that doesn't make sense or goes against what we usually think to be true.
In its truest sense, counter-intuitive means to override your intuition. One's intuition may certainly be illogical at times, but it is mainly a sense of direct knowing, of trusting one's body and soul, without mental proof. Something that goes against intuition is a basic reversion to belief, logic, and proof. It would be counter-intuitive to NOT call your mother when you've been thinking about her all day. It would be counter-intuitive if you chose to mouth the party line instead of speaking your own truth. It would be counter-intuitive to not follow a hunch, or dismiss a strange, new creative idea, or gloss over a dream that warned you to be careful of what you eat this week. But it is not counter-intuitive when an idea doesn't fit the constraints of cultural norms. Sheesh!!!