The Learning Curve

New tricks for an old dog.

Three types of questions

Seth points out two types of questions:

  1. A type of question actually seeking information.  The one who asks the question does not know the answer, but wants to.
  2. A type asked for the purpose of demonstrating the questioner’s familiarity with the subject matter.  Whether the one who asks the question knows the answer is irrelevant.  The purpose of the question is to make a favorable impression.

There is at least one more general type of question.  In its pointed and obvious form it is called a rhetorical question.  It is not actually calling for an answer at all.  It is used to state an opinion or to make a point.

The fuzzy form of this type is much more subtle and suggestive. In legal parlance it is a question that assumes facts not in evidence.  The classic example is, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

There are also leading questions, which similarly to rhetorical questions do not actually call for an answer since the answer is embedded within the question itself.  “Isn’t that right, honey?”

Plus Internet trolls have either invented or re-discovered a whole range of question sub-types, for the seeming purpose of pissing people off for no other reason than it’s so easy to do, or to propagate dark innuendo.  “Didn’t you once admit to taking aspirin, scumbag?”  These look to the the offspring of the argumentative question, which is also very popular on-line in its pure form.

There are probably even more.


Written by Tom Fox

03/04/2009 at 10:14 am

Posted in Evidence, Legal, Seth Godin

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