Explanation of Some Cases of "Getting Stuck" When Trying to Figure Something Out

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Justin Mallone

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Mar 4, 2019, 7:33:57 PM3/4/19
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I have a hypothesis that I think explains at least some cases of when people get stuck trying to figure something out, especially when they’re engaging with stuff like a textbook with exercises.

I think lots of people spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the book wants you to do rather than trying to figure out how to solve whatever you’re trying to solve, using whatever methods you can think of.

So basically you’re trying to get into the book’s head (the head of the authors really) rather than using your own mind. And you get stuck. Why? Cuz you are not using your main problem-solving tool!

I think there’s second-handedness here. You’re not treating solving the problem as the important thing — you’re treating what someone else *thought* of how to solve the problem as the critical thing. And you can’t even figure that out, so it’s a total dead end.

-JM


Justin Mallone

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Mar 7, 2019, 9:35:05 AM3/7/19
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I found some discussion of this issue in a real-life context (people
failing to do fizzbuzz in programming interviews):

https://www.reddit.com/r/cscareerquestions/comments/1uhjp7/most_programmers_cant_write_fizzbuzz/ceib7ia

> 5 years ago
> In my experience interviewing people, it's not usually that they can't
> solve the problem. It's that they get stuck on how to solve it
> "correctly." They want to solve it the way that I expect them to, when
> really I want them to do it however the fuck they want. The result of
> FizzBuzz should never be a yes/no decision even if they get it wrong.
> The idea is to see how they think.

-JM
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