Chris Lakin

The difference between ‘Thinking Forwards’ and ‘Thinking Backwards’.

Rarely do we need what that we weren’t already looking for.

This is because there’s a crucial difference between




(a) consisted of examples of “thinking forwards”, in a top-down manner using inductive reasoning. It’s valuing a priori, independently-generated thoughts. It’s thinking from first principles. It’s when the observed problem generates the solution, without outside interference.

(b) on the other hand consisted of examples of “thinking backwards”, in a bottom-up manner using deductive reasoning. It’s valuing a posteriori, dependently-influenced thoughts. It’s when the solution has to explain the problem which it solves.—But if you didn’t already know, how could it be important?

This is because, while there is an infinite number of solutions to the infinite number of possible problems you could have, there is only a limited amount of solutions to problems that you actually have. Thus, picking any random solution off of a shelf will probably yield a solution that fixes a problem you don’t really have!

Moreover, when the problem generates the solution, you tend to be in an environment with multiple options, where you can choose the best one.

But when the solution generates the problem, the solution’s marketing is often able to lay a deceptive argument for why you really need it, even if you’ve never realized you needed it before!

In general, if you really needed something to solve a problem you have, you would’ve known you needed it before the solution itself to you.

Rarely do we need what we weren’t already looking for.


‘Think backwards’ with me by reading some of my other short essays:

Posted 2020 August 2, last updated 2021 January 5.

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