Patrick E. McLean : Just what it says on the tin.

Is the answer “asking better questions?”

This blogging every day is turning into a question and answer session with myself. And it is really working for me.

I think asking questions is the only way to solve problems, provided you answer them in a useful way. Note, I did not say ‘correct’. For most of human history the ‘correct’ answer was that the Earth was the center of the universe. You’d get full points on a test for that, but it wouldn’t help you solve the problem of why the planets sometimes moved in a strange directions in the sky. Or explain eclipses.

A central principle in my consulting work is that you have to answer questions in a way that allows you to ask better questions. To explain, I’ll take an impossible to settle question: Does God exist?

Yes and no are perfectly complete answers, but they don’t lead to more interesting and useful questions. Like ones that started with “If God existed…” Or “If God didn’t exist…” Or questions like, “Can God make a rock so big that he cannot lift it?”

I think this is how all human understanding progresses. Newton is bored in church one day, so, as he sits there, he stares up at the chandelier swinging back and forth. He starts to ask himself questions about the period and speed of a pendulum. And from questions like that you get things like laws of motion and calculus.

So what are some interesting questions I (or any of us) can ask? Here’s a few off the top of my head. Please add yours in the comments.



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