Tag Archives: Social problems

Solve the Right Problem

To remember

  • Define problem right = you’re halfway to a solution.
  • Define problem wrong = you’ll probably never solve it => You’ll waste all your time looking for a solution that doesn’t exist.
  • Flip side of defining the problem wrong = what computer programmers call GIGO: “Garbage in, garbage out.” >>> If assumptions are wrong = if your logic is flawless =your conclusions will be wrong.
  • social problems < base assumptions on optimism rather than realism => go straight from errors in their premises to errors in their conclusions.
  • When you start with incorrect information but make mistakes in thinking, then you might get the correct answer just by blind luck. (it does happen)
  • Why are the great monotheistic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – chronically unable to fulfill their own self-professed goal of creating individuals infused with moral sensitivity and societies governed by the highest ethical standards? = seems to define problem incorrectly, based on an incorrect assumption about what religion can accomplish.
  • Judaism taught world about universal moral law under God, improving societies and people from ancient times to the present day.
  • Christianity added emphasis on individual conscience + individual rights, helping to develop Western ideals of freedom and personal dignity.
  • Islam = great improvement on earlier practices in the region where it developed, giving at least some rights to women + , in the medieval era, fostering a high civilization to which Jews contributed.
  • << cannot do = make all individuals + societies ethical all the time, + can’t do it because it’s impossible.
  • => limitation imposed by human nature, + fact people are not all alike
  • problem > message must be simple, clear, consistent, + realistic + achievable + allow occasional failures, providing a way to recover from them and get back on the right track.
  • solution = to talk to majority in the middle

The Thousand-Year View

Steve-JobsMy latest blog post for The Jewish Journal:

Define the problem right, and you’re halfway to a solution.

Define the problem wrong, and you’ll probably never solve it. You’ll waste all your time looking for a solution that doesn’t exist. That applies in every area of life, such as religion, relationships, science, and social problems. The best movie mystery of 2008 turned on mis-identifying the problem to be solved.

The flip side of defining the problem wrong is what computer programmers call GIGO: “Garbage in, garbage out.” If your assumptions are wrong, then even if your logic is flawless, your conclusions will be wrong. Garbage in, garbage out.

Ironically, it’s the best and brightest people who are most susceptible to GIGO errors when they think about social problems.

Their kind hearts make them want to believe the most optimistic things, so they often base their assumptions on optimism rather…

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