Using the scientific method to solve your biggest problems

Hello! Seiiti Arata. What can you do with that persistent problem in your life? We are talking about the problem that, no matter how hard you try, you can never solve. Regardless of what your problem is, you don’t need MORE information to solve the issue. You just need the RIGHT information. You need to be clear about the problem and use only the information relevant to your specific case.

To be clear about the problem and collect the relevant information, you can use a four-step process that has been used for centuries to solve the biggest questions in human history. This process is the scientific method and the four steps are: 1) observe, 2) formulate hypotheses, 3) test the hypotheses and 4) analyze the results.

Think for a moment. What is the most persistent problem you face? What is that goal that you would very much like to achieve, but no matter how hard you try, you never achieve the expected result?

It may be that for years you have tried to lose weight and have not succeeded. You may have tried everything to learn a new language and never got out of the basics. It may even be that you have a relationship problem with a family member or friend and you can’t solve it.

The scientific method can be the solution to these endless problems. But this solution will require two things. First, that you stop making random attempts to solve the problem. Second, that you start doing arranged actions, as if you were a scientist of yourself. 

Stop trying to solve your problems at random. Adopt a method so you can find the best possible solution.

We tend to think of scientists as very intelligent people who use incomprehensible systems to solve difficult problems. But the truth is that being a scientist has nothing to do with using systems that are out of your reach, or having crazy ideas. Instead, science is a method for finding the solution to a problem by making the best possible decision.

For example, when scientists try to find a cure for a disease, they do not work at random, without criteria, without a method. Instead, they follow the ritual known as the scientific method.

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The scientific method is nothing more than a set of basic rules for carrying out an experiment. This experiment helps to produce new knowledge or to improve existing knowledge.

There are some variations and ways to apply the method, but it basically goes through four stages: 1) observation, 2) hypotheses, 3) experimentation and 4) analysis of the results.

Now imagine what would not be possible to solve in your life if you applied this same method to solve your big problems.

Imagine you stopped looking for solutions in a disorganized way, without planning, and started to follow a ritual that has already helped to solve all kinds of problems you can imagine. The scientific method is a procedure that will help you to always make the best possible decision.

The first step in solving any problem is observation. Be clear about the problem you want to solve.

The scientific method starts by observing the problem. At this stage, the scientist simply observes a matter, a phenomenon of nature or anything else they want to study.

In your case, you should look at the problem that has been bothering you for the longest time and that you cannot solve. That is, you need to have a well-defined goal.

For example, let’s say you are overweight. You have tried several diets and exercises, but you have never lost weight as you would like. You have also never managed to maintain weight after these diets. This is a problem to be noted.

To solve this problem, you don’t need to have MORE information about diets and exercise. You are probably tired of the amount of information you have already consumed when trying to solve the problem. What you need is the RIGHT information, the relevant information to solve your specific case.

Ask the right questions to find the best solution to your problem. Asking the wrong questions will only make you find the wrong answers.

Our brain often behaves like an answering-questions machine. You put the question on one side and the answer comes from the other side. The problem is that if you ask the wrong question, you will probably find the wrong answers.

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Therefore, you do not necessarily need more information about your problem. What you need is higher quality information. You need to find the RIGHT information to solve your issue.

The quality of the questions you ask when looking at the problem will define the quality of the answers you will get. Your results are directly linked to the quality of your questions.

Let’s return to our example of weight loss, which I will use throughout our conversation. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you can’t lose weight permanently?

An example of a right question would be: why haven’t I managed to lose weight once and for all? This question is honest because it assumes that you have not yet solved the problem, but it makes it clear that there is a way to achieve the goal.

An example of a wrong question would be: why am I never going to lose weight? This question is wrong because it assumes that you will not be able to solve the problem.

Tony Robbins has an example that I find very interesting. When someone asks him how many times he should try to solve a problem before giving up, he says:

“How many times would you let your child try to walk before giving up?” Of course, people answer that they would never give up, that the child will try to walk until he succeeds, no matter how many times he falls to the ground.

And that is the answer, the formula for success to solve the problem: try until you succeed. Do not try it at random, but try to follow a method, as we are doing here.

If you have problems that you cannot solve, formulate several solution hypotheses and test each one of them. You will surely find the answer.

After you have asked the right questions, the next step in the method is to formulate hypotheses, that is, to imagine answers to those questions you have asked.

“Why haven’t I managed to lose weight once and for all?” is a question that opens space for several hypotheses:

  • Because my genetics are bad
  • Because I was never consistent with the diet
  • Because I never went on a low-carb diet with whole foods
  • Because I did not exercise
  • Because I wasn’t accompanied by a really good nutritionist
  • Because I take a prescription medicine that prevents me from losing weight

At this stage, the best thing to do is to write down everything that comes to your mind when answering the question asked. Set your mind free, think of non-obvious ways to solve your problem, as if you were brainstorming.

After you’ve run out your list of possible answers, go back and analyze each answer with a more critical eye. Is this answer correct? How likely is that?

With that critical eye, organize your list of hypotheses in order of priority. At this point, you should focus on data, facts, scientific evidence. List first the hypothesis that you think is most likely to be the solution to your problem. And list the others in that order.

This is important because it is this order that you will follow in the experimentation stage. In other words, do not try to solve the problem at random, without organization. Remember that you are now a scientist yourself.

Never give up on solving a personal problem until you have tested all the hypotheses. If you still can’t solve it, it’s because you haven’t experienced enough.

Now it’s time for you to get your hands dirty. The time for experimentation has come.

For this third step of the scientific method, you will take each of the hypotheses you formulated in the previous step and test them one by one, in an ordered way, analyzing your actions and results over a predetermined period of time.

For example, let’s say that you listed as the most likely hypothesis to solve your obesity problem the answer “Because I never ate a low-carb diet with whole foods”.

Then you will define that, in the next thirty days, you will carefully try a low-carb diet with whole foods prescribed by a nutritionist you trust. If, by the end of the testing period, you have reached your viable weight loss goal for this period, you can validate the hypothesis.

Throughout the trial period, you need to take notes. These notes will help you to be sure of what you are doing. This way, when analyzing the results, you will be able to look at your notes and know exactly what you did. So, write down every day all the actions you are taking to solve the problem in that testing period.

You can get a diary and write down everything for yourself, you can film yourself with your cell phone camera documenting what you did each day or you can even post it on your social networks documenting your journey.

The important thing is that you have a tool to record all the actions taken, as this will be important for the last step of the method: the analysis of the results.

Analyze the results of your actions with the rigor of a scientist. Only then can you accept or discard solutions for solving the biggest problems of your life.

After finishing your trial period of the first hypothesis, you need to analyze your results.

There are two possible paths here: either the test was successful and you found the answer to your problem, or the test was not successful and you need to test the next hypothesis.

At this stage, there is a big difference between the method used by science and this adaptation that we are making for your personal problem.

In the scientific method, the solution must always be true for the same group of people under the same conditions. But in this personal adaptation, the solution has to work for you.

For example, there is probably no evidence that the moon diet works based on scientific evidence. But let’s say that in your case you tested this moon diet and it helped you reach the long-term goal of weight loss.

The moon diet works for you. You tested it, you reached your goal and it did not damage your health. So it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t work for other people. What matters is that it helped you to solve a problem that you had a long time ago. A strange solution that works in practice is better than a supposedly perfect solution that only works in theory.

This was just an example to illustrate the principle to be used in reasoning. Ideally, you should start testing your hypotheses according to the greatest probability they have of working. And the hypotheses that are most likely to work are those that have already worked for other people, those on which there is already a formed literature, successful cases, scientific evidence.

Only not everything works for everyone. That’s why you have to be your own scientist. Observing your problems, asking the right questions, formulating and putting your hypotheses in order, experimenting with each one and analyzing what does and doesn’t work for you.

Those who fail to plan are planning to fail. In this conversation you discovered how to plan to solve the most persistent problems in your life using a method that has been tested and approved for decades and that continues to solve the great questions of humanity.

The best thing is that, using this method, you will never have failures. With each hypothesis tested and discarded, you will only learn ways on how NOT to solve your problem. And sooner or later you will find the solution you are looking for.

With the right planning, you can have the life you always wanted to have. Just put everything on paper and act in an orderly manner, following a method to get from where you are today to the point you want to get to. If you are interested in such a plan, I invite you to attend a special class of the Planning Your Life course accessing right now.