Monday, October 08, 2012

Questions or Answers? Which is More Important?

A day in the park is a story about a character who collects questions and one who collects answers.  They disagree on which is most important.  Brings up some interesting ideas.  There were lots of good panels, but I thought this one the best.

I think it speaks for itself.  The page is perhaps a bit too long, but there are lots of other gems in the debate between the question collector and the answer collector. 

Meanwhile Sunday was a heavy grey wetness. 


  1. Solutions are guided by questions and are thus a subset of the question. If you do not ask a question that is big enough, then you will reduce your vision to the focus on the smaller scale and perhaps move in the wrong direction too quickly. For a focused engineering problem, the solutions may be important. But what if we ethically or environmentally or for equity shouldn't be solving that problem in the first place? The Manhattan project to build the bomb was about engineering solutions. No one ever stopped to ask the broader questions, such as "why should we build the bomb" or "what will happen if we build the bomb."

    Einstein said, “If I had an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem and one minute finding solutions.” Climate change, for example, is a situation where we have fastened on a subset of the real problem, which is population and economic growth. So we immediately frame the solution set in a much smaller space, which is geoengineering, or financial wizardry, or some other narrow solution that benefits only a few, and further damages the environment.

    Our minds have been trained to focus and analyze, thus we anxiously narrow our frame of reference when faced with big problems. Einstein also said that we cannot solve the problems of the world with the same thinking that caused them. He meant the big picture. And markets and technology are the thinking that created the problem of climate change. Further thinking of that kind will only make things worse, since market and technological growth inevitably lead to more carbon. What is the cause of climate change? Ask that question several times,until you get to the root cause. Then begin to solve it--or adapt to it. We're too late for solutions on this one.

  2. RE: Questions v Answers.

    Not too much better proof of which is greater than that demonstrated by Socrates. Yet in fairness, we do have to risk an answer once in a while.

    Like this one... oops.

  3. Mary, I was hoping readers would get the hint of where I thought this was going. Thanks for giving some examples.

    Jacob, :)


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