Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Igor Problem Solving Method

There are many types of constructive problem solvers in the world though, the ones that can catalyze a group of people to work in cohesion, the brilliant minds that deduce solutions by themselves, and the good old shot of common sense. Then, there is the poseur's problem solving. This is very similar to a method exhibited by the guy who had the show, Crossing Over. It involves a lot of social engineering and quite a bit of delay.

This is a topic of interest due to its uniqueness and somewhat formulaic execution. Its always the same algorithm, repeatable and predictable. I actually highly recommend it for the lazy types that have enough tact and aptitude to pull it off themselves.

Today for example, it was used in an electronics course in the university. The subject, Igor, of course was demonstrating his "God given deductive reasoning" to the victims, lets call them Sue and Laura for fun. Igor is currently in the elementary stages of his courting of Laura, it begins with a couple of generic remarks, followed by an everlasting master and bitch arrangement. I'll expand on the entire process on another day.

Anyways, the class was posed a problem on the board to solve. Not all of us are engineers, so lets simplify it into something that everyone can appreciate. The problem could be "Can I afford this $35,000 car given my current salary, X, and a 4.3% compounded interest rate on borrowing with the following expenses Y and Z?" Seems like a simple enough problem right? Fill in X, Y, and Z with whatever you choose.

We all know how a normal person would approach this problem? Now, here's the Igor approach. I call it the "Perpetual Diversion Construction". Everything below is from the mouth of Igor:

"Well, what colour is the car? I read in GQ that orange is the new black for cars, you should really try it, it goes well with your eye colour."
(Shameless compliment to the person with the brain and a blatant diversion)
"Actually, car financing is a very good idea in the state of this economy"
(Getting warmer with relevance but still a generalization nonetheless)
"4.3% isn't that bad of an interest rate considering the price bracket, I actually gave up my right testicle to get my Rabbit"
(Off topic again, but a somewhat general fact)
"You know what? I think you need to break up the cost into a month by month basis"
(Getting warmer again, there we go, but the facts are still generic and altruistic to the type of problem)
"Actually, I'm getting kind of thirsty from all this thinking, I'm going to Starbucks, do you want anything?"
(Symbolic offering because clearly he's not doing any thinking. However, he gives you the illusion that he's drenched from thinking so much. He also appears thoughtful and considerate, awwww.)
(Repeat, Repeat, Repeat).

By now you get the point, he oscillates daily conversation with brutally general facts and partial truths that contribute very little to solve the problem. But, his mouth is always open so you assume that he's working hard at solving the task at hand. The idea here is to give you the idea that he's a constructive member of this group and hope that YOU will eventually solve the damn problem so he can take partial credit and/or plagiarize to the max. Silence shows he's stuck; thus, he never shuts up.

If you need to substantiate this theory, study with the child. See how he acts around you. Then leave for 3 hours and see how much he accomplishes alone, its quite sad and pathetic. Somebody of an IB background and affluent parents, a lost puppy in the world of higher education.

The problem here is that Igor memorizes trivia and has very little true knowledge. He is the internet to an encyclopedia, the high school student to the Ph.D, the one employee who is always there but never does anything, etc. etc. He is full of face value trivia without any backing. Talk to him for 5 minutes, you'll think he's brilliant. 10 minutes and he's intelligent. 15 minutes and he has glimpses of insight. 3 hours and he's average. I don't need to explain any further, I'm sure its self-explanatory, or should I get you a coffee while I wait for you to do the thinking for me?

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