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Allan Macdougall


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Which is the more powerful in solving the world's biggest problems - Doubt or Certainty?

When confronted with seemingly insurmountable problems, what would be the advantages and disadvantages of each approach?

When doubt or certainty are allied to belief systems and/or conventional wisdom, do they become and more - or less - powerful in their ability to solve such problems?

Is it better to try to view the overall picture of a problem in order to solve it and then work towards the relevant detail, or to be more focused on close-up detail first and then to work outwards to try and find the bigger context?


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  • Dec 16 2012: Whenever I encounter a problem, what I do is to manifest the key branches to the solution first, before working in-depth on each individual branch, analyzing the branch the the minutest of detail. After doing so, more often than not the picture becomes clearer and the answer gradually appears in the mind. In any case, it is better to approach a problem with doubt because doubt translates to questions, and questions beget answers, for which will form the puzzle-pieces to the solution.
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      Dec 17 2012: "...doubt translates to questions, and questions beget answers..."

      Great point!

      I'm interested in your problem solving technique - that a clear picture appears by going to key branches first followed by the minutest detail. Do you find that the context of the whole problem gets lost in the detail, or do the 'branches' contain sufficient context to give you the whole picture?
      • Dec 17 2012: Well I cant give you an exact answer to such a question. The only way to prevent zoning out is to constantly keep track of where your heading to. In some cases, the answer is concealed in the question itself. That means to say, if you dissect the question to its roots, the answer will naturally manifest itself. It hinges on the fact that the answer already lies deep in your mind, and the extraction works in the form of probing the question serves to clear the air. The answer is already in our possession simply because the answer can either be retrieved from experience, or sourced by methods we know of.

        However, there are certain cases in which the answer, no matter how analytic you are, will not surface. This answers are mainly predictions of the future, and postulates of uncertainties, for instance, death. That means to say, no matter how many facts you accumulate, you would not be able to amass hundred percent certainty to the answer you seek for.

        Thus, getting lost in detail is irrelevant to the seeking of an answer. Getting lost simply means that you are not focused, and I am pretty sure that is that.

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