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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Stupid questions

 I know that  we are told that there are no stupid questions. And that’s good advice to follow. The idea is that we ask all our questions and not worry about whether we will appear silly or stupid in asking them. And as a business analyst, of course, our bread-and-butter is asking questions and if we analyze and concern ourselves with the quality of the question or more importantly how we are going to appear and what people are going to think about us when we ask the question, we will find that we will be stifling ourselves and limiting the number of questions we ask.

 However there are two forms of questions that might be considered to be stupid; in other words, they should not be asked.

 A question for which you know the answer or the answer is clearly obvious is a stupid question. In other words you wasted time asking it when you could have asked a more information providing question. Now this does not apply to clarification questions where you’re asking to confirm your understanding of information that you already know. But asking if the sun is shining while everyone is wearing sunglasses seems to be somewhat of a stupid question.  Or this real question asked of a medical examiner by a lawyer: “Doctor, how many autopsies have you performed on dead people?””

 The other type of stupid question is one in which the responder cannot answer. There is no way to be able to answer without for example incriminating themselves, or putting themselves in a bad light or simply the responder clearly does not have the answer to the question. For example,  “how long has it been since you stopped beating your wife?” The question itself usually generates laughter because they see the quandary the responder is in trying to answer the question. 

It is a stupid question which has no answer.

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