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01/16/2020

It is not a matter of being in favor or against something; nor is it a matter of being in favor of the particular question in hand. But it is not a matter of giving the facts. It is a matter of getting to grips with the issue. And that often means, at least for the most part, of getting to grips with what is at issue and what is the truth in the matter. In effect, such a statement suggests or supports those two aspects of the discussion, and it can be used to guide the thinking, even while it may imply the other.

It is not a matter of being in favor or against something; nor is it a matter of being in favor of the particular question in hand. But it is not a matter of giving the facts. It is a matter of getting to grips with the issue. And that often means, at least for the most part, of getting to grips with what is at issue and what is the truth in the matter. In effect, such a statement suggests or supports those two aspects of the discussion, and it can be used to guide the thinking, even while it may imply the other.
The problem statement can be of two sorts: an explanatory one (to be used in describing the nature of something, usually an event or an event’s effect) and a problem statement (to describe the nature of something’s consequences, but which does not provide for a solution).
Explanatory Problem Statements:
An airplane crash occurred. Why?
A ship sank in stormy weather. What caused it?
A person died. How? What can be done to help and support the bereaved?
The weather is threatening rain. What are the options for avoiding it? Note that in such cases the problem statement does not address the cause of the bad weather.
Problem Statements:
Why do the results in this case show that the problem statement is valid?
Why was the question in question?
How would you answer a question like this?
One solution, given above, may be to use the word “should.”
Problems can be presented as being either “positive” or “negative” examples or they can be described as being either “positive” or “negative” implications (but not both at the same time). Some problems are not positive statements. Some problems are both positive and negative. The difference is that those cases that are “negative” are intended to indicate a possible alternative, and when they are given in an explanatory form the meaning must therefore be inferred from the use of the word.
Examples:
A person was found to not be sick. Why?
The weather is threatening rain. What are the options for avoiding it? What is meant by “prevent”? How about “protect?”
The person fell from the building because of an emergency. Why?
A person was found to not be sick. What is the likely cause?
The person fell from the building because of an emergency. Why did he fall?
The problem statement should reflect the meaning of the statement and not be used merely as a means to an end.
Note: The problem statement can always be made in a non-explanatory form.
Actions or Events:
The problem statement should be a statement explaining what happened in a given instance, not a statement containing reasons or explanations. “A person died.” is the correct problem statement, although “A person fell from the building because of an emergency.” is incorrect. In such cases, the problem statement is intended to illustrate a possible alternative in terms of explaining why the given facts occurred. In the latter case, the question-begging nature is not necessary since it does not need to be answered.
On the other hand, a situation’s situation is not relevant to a problem statement. It is necessary only that a given situation or circumstance can be compared to reality in some way.