Questions and their Utility for
Problem-Solving, Goal Attainment, and Creating Effective Search Phrases
A General Problem‑Solving Technique,
Based on Questions, and Search Phrases
Most goals and problems can
be partly or totally, broken up into a series of questions. This also applies
to information in general. These questions can sometimes be answered by using
them as search phrases. For example,
if the goal is to start a small
business, all of the questions in the following six paragraphs can be
1) What type of business should I start? What are my
skills and experience, and are they useful for starting a business. Can I make
enough profit with this type of business, to support my family and myself? What
are the chances of success with this type of business?
2) How much money will I need to start this type
of business? How much money do I have in
the bank to invest in the business? How much will I have to borrow from the
bank? Is my credit good enough for a bank loan? Should I mortgage the house
to get a bank loan, or is that too risky?
3) Where should I locate the business, to
maximize the number of customers? How shall I advertise the
business? Is advertising effective for this type of business? Is a website a
good way to advertise? Should I advertise with leaflets, and small ads in the
paper? Will my good reputation in the neighborhood help me get customers? Is
word-of-mouth adequate to get customers?
4) How long will it take before the business
becomes profitable? What will be
my exit plan if the business loses money and does not improve over time? If
the business fails, how much money will I lose? Will I be able to recover
financially and emotionally if the business fails? How will the financial
problems affect my family, if the business fails?
5) How can I reduce my financial risks? Will a
partner help me reduce the financial risks? Should I think of alternatives? To
reduce my risks, should I start a very small business, or a home based business?
Will I be better off with a job instead of starting a business?
6) If I decide to go through with these plans,
where can I find retail space? Where can I find a contractor
to build the storefront that I will need for my business? How much would this
construction cost? Where can I get expert advice to help me with my business
goals? Who can help me write a business plan, and set up a website for my
The questions in the last
paragraph can be answered with web-based searches, coupled with phone calls or
e-mail. Questions that relate to money can be answered with mathematical
approximations or estimates. Many of the above questions can only be answered
with speculations or possibilities. Sometimes web-based searches can provide
answers that relate to possibilities, such as statistics indicating the chances
of success or failure, with a specific type of business. Questions that relate
to the emotional impact, if the business fails, can be evaluated by self‑reflection
and talking to family members.
in mind, that the
above is an example, and the same concept can be applied to writing a term
paper, getting good grades in college, creating educational plans for a
specific occupation. The above technique can also be used to solve or alleviate adverse problems,
such as financial difficulties, or conflict in a relationship.
TYPES of Questions and
and Information Placed into Categories
There are many types of questions
and information, and I am dividing them into categories. This includes
subjective and objective information. An understanding of the different types
of information and questions can be helpful with critical thinking, writing, and
problem solving, and creating good search phrases.
NOTE: In the following paragraphs, I
am omitting the word information, for conciseness. Keep in mind anywhere you see the word question in
this chapter, it means information and questions.
Presented below there are
definitions for eleven types of questions. There is some overlap between the
categories, and thus some questions could be classified in more than one way. For
each of the definitions there are examples, which are search phrases in the
form of a question. The search
phrases are in blue, underlined text, and they are active hyperlinks. That is,
if you left click on them, you will see search results from Google, or Google
video. If a link fails, enter the search phrase into the indicated search
1) Questions that have answers that change with time: Examples are Who is the president of the United
States? Google answered
What is the temperature in New York
City? Google answered 26°F. If you click
on the above link you will probably see a different temperature.
2) Questions that have answers that DO NOT change with time: Examples are
What year was Sigmund Freud born? Google
answered May 6,
1856. Who was the first president of the
United States? Google
Washington. How many grams is one cubic centimeter
of gold? Google answered 19.3 grams.
3) Questions involving predictions, reactions, or
final results of relatively simple systems: Questions in this category often involve the physical sciences,
such as chemical reactions. The answers to the questions in this category can be
tested experimentally, and the results will always be the same if the
experiment is repeated, under the same conditions. Examples are: What will happen if “hydrochloric
acid” is mixed with zinc? Google
indicated 3,250,000 results. What is the “root mean square
speed" of "helium atoms" at 25°C? Google Indicated 42,200 results.
4) Questions that involve predictions, reactions,
or final results, of highly complex systems: Examples of highly complex systems are
seen in the social and psychological sciences, the economy, the stock market, global
warming, medical science, and everyday human interactions. With complex
systems, there are many unknowns. As
a result, questions that involve predictions, reactions, and ultimate outcomes of complex systems usually cannot be answered with
absolute certainty. It is not always possible to carry out experiments with
these systems, and when it is, the results will usually vary, even if the
experiments were identical. Experimental results, that involve highly complex
systems, are often evaluated with statistics. An example of a question in this
category is: what will be the final results of the
"Arab Israeli conflict?" Google indicated 3,780,000 results. What will be the result of "global
warming" OR "climate change"?
Google indicated 3,780,000 results.
5) Questions that can only be answered with speculations
or possibilities: Questions in this category
might have precise answers in the FUTURE. Examples are: "How can we get to Mars?" Google
indicated 37,800 results. How can "cancer be eliminated?” Google
indicated 7,210 results. Amongst the thousands
of results, from the above,
there might be ideas or methods
that can be used to create feasible technologies to go to Mars or prevent
cancer. This essentially sums up a valuable utility of this type of search.
6) Subjective questions: Answers to questions in this category are influenced or
determined by PERSONAL: opinions,
values, beliefs, needs, emotional tendencies, etc. Thus,
each person, group, organization, or nation will usually provide different answers
to the same subjective questions. Examples are "When is war justified?" Google indicated 89,600 results.
“What is the best political party?” Google indicated
4,580,000 results. Subjective questions, such as the above, can reveal
information about the values, beliefs, needs, emotional tendencies of
individuals, groups, organizations, and nations.
in this category generally have only one correct answer that is factual in
nature. The answers to these questions are NOT
related to personal opinions, values, beliefs,
needs, or emotional tendencies. See the following examples. What is the density of platinum? Google
answered: The density of pure platinum is 21.45 g/cm3, the
mass per given volume. (NOTE: This should be written as 21.45 g/cm3)
On Earth, what is the acceleration of
answered: That is to say, the acceleration of gravity on the
surface of the earth at sea level is 9.8 m/s2. NOTE: This
should be written as 9.8 m/s2
8) Open-ended questions: These
questions can be answered a number of ways, and they usually involve subjective
answers. These Questions can be useful as search phrases, for evaluating
opinions. Three examples are: "What do you think about the
United States?" Google
indicated 44,600,000 results “What is the meaning of life” Google video
indicated 10,300,000 results. “What do you think of Obama?” Google video
indicated 121,000 results.
NOTE: It is
sometimes better to do a VIDEO SEARCH,
when search phrases, involve, opinions of individuals, such as the above. This
is because videos can reveal more information than a webpage, such as emotional
reactions, body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice.
9) Closed-Ended Questions: Questions in this category generally have only
one correct answer, or they can be answered with yes or no. Examples are: How high is the Empire
State building? Google
(381 m). Where was President Bush born? Google answered New Haven, CT
George W. Bush, Place of birth. Questions
that can be answered with yes or no, or true or false, also fall into this
category. An example is asking someone for a specific favor, such as can I
10) Questions involving definitions: An
example “What is the definition of an
isosceles triangle? ” Google answered Web definitions,
a triangle with two equal sides. “What is a paramecium?” Google answered
a single-celled freshwater animal that has a
characteristic slipperlike shape and is covered with cilia.
NOTE: It is usually better to use online
dictionaries for definitions, such as the following: www.merriam-webster.com or www.oxforddictionaries.com/us However, you cannot
enter the words in the form of a question in these dictionaries.
11) Questions involving subjective definitions: This involves the way people PERSONALLY DEFINE something,
based on their opinions, experience, beliefs, feelings, needs, and emotional inclinations.
Examples are “How would you define success?” Google video indicated 7,180 results. “What is a good friend?” Google video indicated
involving subjective definitions can provide very interesting
information about people, such as their beliefs, feelings, values, adjustment
strategies, etc. Questions in this category can provide interesting
information when they are used as video search phrases.
Important Concepts to
Keep in Mind, from the Above
this concluding subsection, I am going to summarize the most important
concepts, illustrated with the eleven categories of questions, which were
presented above. These concepts are important for an adequate understanding of
the material that will be presented in the next chapters. This will include
critical thinking, and evaluating information.
understanding of the difference between: objective
and factual information, and subjective, opinions, beliefs, values, and feelings are
essential. Objective and subjective information are both important, in
writing, real-world problem solving, and goal attainment. For example, whether
a nation decides to go to war, or to settle a dispute by negotiation and compromise,
can be partly or totally, determined by values. This can include emotional
concerns about loss of life. However, decisions of this nature can also be
partly or totally, determined by objective information, such as the quantity
and quality of their military equipment.
is important to understand the difference between simple and complex systems.
Simple systems are predictable, and often involve the hard sciences. Complex
systems are not 100% predictable,
and they often involve the social, psychological, or medical sciences. The
behavior of complex systems can sometimes become more predictable, or more
insightful, by applying statistical evaluations.
is important to understand when information, such as predictions or theories
are based on scientifically verifiable experiments, as opposed to speculations or possibilities. However,
information or ideas that are based on speculations or possibilities can
sometimes be scientifically verified. Most of the scientific literature and
modern technology initially were based on speculations or possibilities.
From Other Authors: Additional and
Supporting Information, and Alternative Perspectives, for Chapter 5
If you want more information, alternative perspectives
or explanations, see the following websites and videos from other authors. To
access this material left click on the blue links, or the URLs presented below.
If a link fails,
enter the indicated search phrase, or the *words that
are displayed from the website, into the search engine presented on
the left of each entry. If there are many words displayed from the website,
select a few of the words that seem most useful for a search phrase. Then,
carry out a conventional web-based search.
the words from the website are indicated with Words on
you examine the following entries all of the above will be clarified.
Webpages from other Authors, to Support and Supplement The
Concepts and other Material in Chapter 5
www.Google.com Search phrase: Subjective and Objective Information This is a Google search page, which indicates 13,600,000
on website: Subjective vs Objective, URL is:
on website: What is the difference between a subjective and an
URL is: http://goo.gl/yrh1Ar
on website: Beautiful" and the Metaphysics of Beauty URL is http://goo.gl/xGCysA
on website: The Difference Between Objective and Subjective Data, URL is http://goo.gl/nc25Pp
Search phrase: Critical
Thinking, This is a Google search page, which indicates 120,000,000
on website: Critical Thinking: Basic Questions & Answers URL is: http://goo.gl/Y4Ww1u
on website: Questions and Critical Thinking, URL is http://goo.gl/k7vWwC
on website: Using Questions to Promote Critical Thinking By Cindy
McClung, and Bob Hoglund
URL is: http://goo.gl/NB4c0U
on website: Critical Thinking, Logic and Reason: A Practical Guide
for Students and Academicsmore,URL
on website: Distinguishing Between Inferences and Assumptions URL is http://goo.gl/et7Y5O
on website: Defining Critical Thinking, URL is http://goo.gl/V42iqI
Videos from other
Authors, to Support and Supplement The Concepts and other Material in Chapter 5
When you left click on a link for a video, a webpage will open, and the video will
start automatically in most cases. The webpage that opens with the video will
usually have 10 or more RELEVANT
videos. If the video does not start automatically, and the webpage opens, left
click on the link provided by the author of the video. This link is usually in
the center of the screen.
www.Video.Google.com Search phrase: Subjective and Objective Information, This is
a Google video search page, which indicates 1,760,000 results.
on website: Objective
vs Subjective info,
URL is http://youtu.be/Iv1725yFrBw
on website: Subjective
vs. Objective Value: The Economist and the Philosopher, URL is http://youtu.be/6PeRBsEyakU
on website: Objective
versus Subjective Claims Video, URL
www.Video.Google.com Search phrase: Critical Thinking,
This is a Google video
search page, which indicates 3,450,000 results.
www.Video.Google.com Words on website: Critical
Thinking Part 1: A Valuable Argument, URL
www.Video.Google.com Words on website: Use
Creative and Critical Thinking for Professional and Personal, URL is http://goo.gl/L323SC
www.Video.Google.com Words on website: Academic
Writing: Critical Thinking and Rhetorical Functions, URL is http://goo.gl/7ksmBd
on website: Learn
the Power of Critical Thinking w/Dr. Linda Elder, URL is http://goo.gl/WbU5kn