*=* Most practical way of solving problems *=*
Like the butterfly’s wing beat that ultimately leads to a hurricane,
seemingly trivial actions can have consequences that reverberate
through generations. With every action, with every day we live, we
create the future. Of course, forces beyond human control also
have influence, but it is how our choices relate to these external
events that determine the outcome.
Mastering the art of problem solving is one important way to ensure
that the future you create is a hopeful one. Analysis helps you
make choices that are consonant with your personal values,
consistent with your ideology, and reflective of the realities imposed
by external forces. Whether you are a businessperson, scientist,
athlete, or accountant, analyzing your choices in a systematic way
will lead to a better life. Of primary importance are the following
• Get organized: Clean up your office. Establish a filing system that allows you to find what
you need when you need it. Buy the key books in your field, and make them accessible.
Above all, remember that organization often beats brilliance!
• Be a critical thinker: Dissect your own arguments and those of others. Identify the
premises and the main conclusion of each argument. Make sure the premises are
acceptable, relevant, and adequate to support the conclusions. Finally, search for missing
arguments and for counter arguments.
• Don’t be intimidated by anyone: The key issues surrounding all but the most technical
topics can be understood by any intelligent and sufficiently diligent person. If it matters
enough to you, you’ll be able to figure it out.
• Question authority: Maintain a healthy skepticism of other people’s analysis, and ask
questions until you understand their points. Clearly distinguish facts from value
judgments, and make sure that others do so too. Don’t believe everything you read, even
if it’s written by a well-known authority.
• Don’t confuse what’s countable with what really counts: Many of the most important things
in life can’t be quantified, so don’t focus just on the numbers– they aren’t everything.
• Dig into the numbers: Look for internal contradictions, large differences, obvious trends,
and cognitive dissonance. Compare results to independent sources. Take ratios of
numbers, and make sure they relate in a predictable way