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The Supremacy of Method in Problem Solving

Without method, we are left with chance. Chance is the opposite of method, and we would have a disorganized, chaotic world without methods and techniques. But what is “method”? Unfortunately, method is an ambiguous word. It has been widely misused and misinterpreted in the fields of science and knowledge, resulting in the biggest educational and intellectual blunder in history (see my book End the Biggest Educational and Intellectual Blunder in History).

To understand problem solving and method, it is important to keep this in your memory:

Method as used in the scientific method refers to a guide to the mental activity stages by which we originate, refine, extend, and apply knowledge. It is also the guide to problem origination, prevention, solution, and challenge of solution. Since it is just a guide, it is subject neutral and will not solve any problems by itself.

Method as used in problem-solving methods and scientific methods are really the techniques or the creative, non-logical, logical, and technical methods or techniques actually applied at the various stages of the scientific method to try to accomplish results. There are many standard ones often used and millions of miscellaneous ones. Thus, one is a guide, the other is an action method directly applied.

Philosophers Karl Popper (1902-1994) and Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) have stated that there is no scientific method. It is true that what are often called scientific methods are really technical methods or techniques. However, it is not true that there is no guide to the mental activity stages of the scientific method. This guide or method has been proven to be the best of all guides or methods ever found for obtaining reliable knowledge and solving problems.

The advantages of method:

organizes our thoughts
clarifies our thoughts
ends aimless wandering
helps ideas take shape
doesn’t have to be reinvented
guide to new knowledge
increases self-confidence
provides a system
provides an organized approach
uses human potential
is a repeatable procedure
is a remembered procedure
aids in transfers of learning
aids specific transfer of training
keeps us going in the right direction
avoids relying only on intuition
aids learning to learn
gives direction on future problems
trains for change and innovation
encourages conceptual thinking
model of mental process
helps extend principles
overcomes laxity of thought
generates greater profits


The opposite of method is chance.

When you don’t use methods in the problem-solving process, the results are:
haphazard guesses
superficial analyses
wasted time
no solutions
“pig in a poke”
confusion
decreased earnings
mistakes & errors
misdirection
wasted energy
quick fixes
chaos
loss of lives
stewing and fretting
overlooked opportunities
wandering aimlessly
seat of pants management
trial & error


HOME | Preliminary Information | Introduction | History | Supremacy of Method | Basic Principles
Problem Solving Booklet | A Personal Program | Briefs on Problem Solving | Guide & Worksheet | Order Books