I’m referring to situations where you might make a guess or decision based on factors not directly applicable to the situation, such as context. For example, if you were guessing a multiple choice question on a test and make your guess based on the fact that the answers to previous consecutive questions were the same, so you don’t want to guess it again for the next question. In this case, you’re making your decision not based on the direct contents of the question, but rather based on factors beyond the question.

Or, for example, if you were asked a trick question and you give your answer based on trying to avoid the “trick” rather than thinking about the actual contents of the question. (Many trick questions now capitalize on this type of guessing and make it so that the actual answer is the obvious one, making the guesser seem stupid for trying to avoid the trick, which takes it yet another level higher.)

Another example would be in debates, where instead of engaging directly with the arguments made, debaters sometimes choose to make arguments based on the previous debate on the original arguments. (Ex. You were unable to rebut my arguments B and C, while I refuted all of your arguments, meaning I win this debate based on my argument A going unrefuted.)

In these situations it seems that thinking or decision-making is of a higher level than in the direct sense, so how would you describe it? Is there a specific term or word applicable?


4 Answers 4


A term in computer science for "higher order decision making" or "guessing" is a heuristic. (Wikipedia)

In mathematical optimization and computer science, heuristic (from Greek εὑρίσκω "I find, discover") is a technique designed for solving a problem more quickly when classic methods are too slow for finding an approximate solution, or when classic methods fail to find any exact solution. This is achieved by trading optimality, completeness, accuracy, or precision for speed. In a way, it can be considered a shortcut.

So a heuristic is a fancy term for an educated guess.

In the first example presented by the OP, the heuristic substitutes a good guess for actually figuring out the answer.

In the second example offered by the OP, the heuristic substitutes a shortcut of reasoning by analogy instead of rigorous, logical proof.


You could say (from Cambridge Dictionary)

to guess what someone will do in the future

in this case, try to anticipate the answer by strategy rather than by knowledge. This is the British English meaning.

The American English meaning is given by Merriam-Webster

to criticize or question actions or decisions of (someone) often after the results of those actions or decisions are known

but of course, that is only after the event.


This probably falls under the umbrella term meta-reasoning:

Meta-reasoning is reasoning about the reasoning process itself.... [P]rioritization of reasoning rules is used in this chapter as an example of meta-reasoning.

[InfoScipedia; adjusted]

Meta-analysis has a well-defined meaning, inappropriate here.


It's hard to answer this one without a usage example, but for what it's worth this comes to mind, especially since this is tagged as an epithet-request:

galaxy-brained - framing the ideas as too profound for average minds to comprehend

The gist is that the higher-order thinking is so profound that the rest of us lesser beings simply can't appreciate it. It is an insult similar to overthinking.

But "epithet request" could have led me astray because the rest of the OP makes me think of intuitive thinking.

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