Logic Can Work Backwards – Sometimes . . . Richard Feynman Could Do It!

The traditional path for logical deduction is to progress from hypotheses (premises) to conclusions . . . or, as they say, “P” implies “Q.”

It can work the other way, sometimes, but it’s risky business.

The late great physicist, Richard Feynman, had the ability to think backwards and often did. When presented with a problem, he would sometimes quickly announce the conclusion or answer – and then work his way backwards to the premises – often confounding those who tried to follow his reasoning.

Dr. Feynman won the Nobel Prize for his work in particle physics and developed a widely used pictorial representation scheme for the mathematical expressions governing the behavior of subatomic particles, which later became known as “Feynman diagrams.”

Feynman Diagrams

Feynman Diagrams – Courtesy Richard Kass

Feynman Diagrams

Feynman Diagrams

The Feynman diagrams were not an obvious hypothesis or premise from which to start – they resulted in his explaining why they led to correct answers. Quite simply, they worked!  They were an ‘easy way’ to explain a complicated subject.

Feynman, curiously, was not a ‘genius’ in the traditional sense. Yes, he had a higher than normal IQ (his sister’s IQ was higher) – but he learned the science of physics by brute force of study. That most likely led to not only his deep knowledge of the subject matter, but also explains why he was such a great teacher (the Feynman lectures on physics are legendary).

Not everyone has the unique logical skill of a Richard Feynman.

But, now and then, it does work to just come up with an answer – and then plod your way backwards through the derivation of just how you got that answer – and in the process, you might win yourself a Nobel Prize!

Most of us, however, will stick to the traditional “P” implies “Q.”


15 thoughts on “Logic Can Work Backwards – Sometimes . . . Richard Feynman Could Do It!

  1. Lenore

    This is a really good tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very accurate info… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read article!

  2. Josette

    Do you mind if I quote a few of your articles as long as I provide
    credit and sources back to your blog? My website is in the exact
    same niche as yours and my users would genuinely benefit from a
    lot of the information you provide here. Please let me
    know if this okay with you. Thanks a lot!

  3. coach outlet

    I enjoy what you guys are usually up too. This sort of clever work and reporting!
    Keep up the fantastic works guys I’ve included you guys to my personal blogroll.

  4. Cialis

    Thanks for another great post. The place else may anyone get that tyoe of information in such an
    ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation next week,
    and I’m on the seaech for such information.

  5. ทัวร์ยุโรป

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better!

    Reading through this post reminds me of my good old room mate!

    He always kept talking about this. I will forward this write-up to him.

    Pretty sure he will have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  6. Mother's Day Gift

    You could certainly see your skills within the article you write.
    The world hopes for even more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe.
    Always go after your heart.

  7. ok-now.com

    My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find many
    of your post’s to be precisely what I’m looking for. Does one offer guest
    writers to write content for you? I wouldn’t mind writing a post or elaborating on a number of the subjects you write with regards to here.

    Again, awesome web site!

  8. ipad3 pris

    Simply desire to say your article is as astonishing.
    The clearness in your submit is simply great and that i
    can suppose you’re an expert on this subject. Fine with your permission allow me to clutch your feed to keep updated with imminent post. Thank you a million and please continue the gratifying work.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.