It’s all problems

Spearman was right that people differ in their ability to solve well-defined problems. But he was wrong that well-defined problems are the only kind of problems. “Why can’t I find someone to spend my life with?” “Should I be a dentist or a dancer?” and “How do I get my child to stop crying?” are all important but poorly defined problems. “How can we all get along?” is not a multiple-choice question. Neither is “What do I do when my parents get old?” And getting better at rotating shapes or remembering state capitols is not going to help you solve them.

~ Adam Mastroianni from,


I’m left wondering if the very intelligent are those who can figure out if a problem is, or is not, well-defined. I blast through all sort of work—well-defined problems in Mastroianni’s article—but it doesn’t seem to fulfill me. As soon as I know the problem is well-defined, I lose interest. As soon as I can see a path provided by a solution, I lose interest. Sometimes, I go through the steps to actually do the work. But mostly I just lose interest as soon as know how it would be done.

All of which makes for a vicious cycle: my ability to generate work vastly outstrips my ability to do that work. And I feel the weight of guilt for not doing that work which I feel should be done.