Friday, January 6, 2017

2016 TKR: EDU: You got a problem? Do you know what it is?

You got a problem?  Do you know what it is?
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  • Try this thought experiment.
  • You were thinking about a problem you want to solve.
  • You rubbed an ancient salt shaker.  A genie appeared.
  • Genie: Greetings, mortal. I am the Genie of the Salt Grains.  
  • You: Are you going to give me three wishes?
  • Genie: Sorry, mortal, but things are tight in the genie business these days.  You get one wish, and you can only use that to deal with that problem you were just thinking about.
  • You:  You mean I can just wish the problem to be fixed and you will fix it?
  • Genie: You got it, mortal.  But be careful!  Remember all those genie stories you have read.  You don't want to screw this up.  You got no back-up wish here. 
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  • You:  Can't I just wish for you to fix it?
  • Genie:  Sure.  That's the usual story.  Leave the details to the genie.  Makes a good short story.  People never like the solution.  
  • You (Dejected): Why does it always work out that way?  
  • Genie: Because people jump at the first thing they think of.  They don't think through to what they really want.
  • You:  Thinking is hard.  
  • Genie: So don't start with thinking. Start by writing down what you want.  Just dash it off and leave it for a day.  Then go back an look it over.  You probably will realize that it does not say what you want.  
  • You: So then I guess I rewrite it.  This wish business is getting to be more work than I expected. 
  • Genie:  You're catching on.  If you are going to get what you wish for, you better be sure you know what you want
  • You:  So then I give you my wish?
  • Genie: No.  Then you show it to a friend.  
  • You:  What is my friend supposed to do with it?
  • Genie:  Tell you what's wrong with you idea.  Tell you you what won't work.  That's what friends are for. 
  • You: So after I fix what's wrong with the idea, then am I ready to give it to you?
  • Genie:  Probably not.  Most friends won't think to ask you the key question in problem solving.  
  • You:  What is the key question?
  • Genie: The key question is:  Why do you want that?   Extra benefit: your friends will stop asking you to help them in solving their problems.  
  • You:  So if nobody asks me that question, I need to ask myself.  
  • Genie:  You are starting to catch on.  When you know why you are wishing something, you may decide to make your wish about that higher level goal.  
  • You: Thinking is hard.
  • Genie:  If you don't know what you really want, why would you expect to get it?
  • You: I guess that's the point.  When a genie offers it for nothing, we don't bother with the hard thinking.
  • Genie: If you had to work for it, the work would be much harder than the thinking.
  • You:  Hmm. I could wish for a solution to a problem.  But what would I do with the next problem?
  • Genie:  You are beginning to catch on.
  • You:  Or I could wish to get better at solving problems.  
  • Genie: Careful.  There is a value judgement there.  Are you sure you want me to define it?
  • You:  A value judgement?  What--Oh, better.  No, I want to say what I mean by better. This thinking is a lot of trouble.
  • Genie:  Not near as much as you can get from not thinking. 
  • You:  I don't suppose I can get so skilled that I can solve any problem.  
  • Genie:   No. That is beyond the capability of mortals.
  • You: My wish is that I become as skillful at solving problems as is possible for a mortal.
  • Genie:  A wise choice, mortal.  You have already made a good choice.  Your first problem is to figure out how to do that.
The Genie disappears in a cloud of steam.

Related

For draft thinking, make notes on draft paper.
Your first ideas may not be concrete.  They may have value terms like bad, annoying, unreasonable.  Value terms say how you feel about the situation.  They don’t say much about reality.  They won’t be of much help in fixing reality. 
But the answer will set up reminders to help your brain modules work on the problem.  You have to figure out what those value terms mean to you.  When you write things, your brain can offload some of its memory work onto paper. And while you puzzle over what to write, you get some of your quiet brain parts to working on the puzzle.


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News and Notes

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