When your intuition lets you down

What is the quickest way to empty a bottle full of water?

Our intuition tells us to overturn the bottle vertically. However, this is rather slow. The exit of the water is turbulent and creates pockets of vacuum which slows the water from leaving the bottle. A much faster way to empty the bottle is to swirl it around to create a whirlpool, such that the air and the water have their own paths into and out of the bottle.

While designing a car, where would you position the steering wheel?

Our intuition tells us to position the steering right in the middle of the vehicle, so that the driver can judge the car’s width on either side. However, this also means while overtaking, the driver is unable to see ahead of a vehicle in front without swerving into an adjacent lane. It is also more inconvenient for the driver to enter and exit the car – especially for people with disabilities.

Our intuition often lets us down because it is prone to be anchored to a proximate reason that is often simplistic.

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