At the start of almost every class, seminar, meeting, etc, the person at the front of the room reassuringly tells everyone that there's no such thing as a stupid question. Sometimes they say that the the only stupid questions are the ones you don't ask. What a load of crap.
Whether they're trying to encourage participation, generate interest or form a bond with their audience, they should tell people the truth. If you think your question is going to sound stupid, chances are other people will, too.
The reality of life is that some people sound dumb because they are. Dumb, that is. I don't know if we're stretching the bounds of political correctness or we're afflicted with an insatiable need to be polite, but we may be sending our kids the wrong message by handing out trophies to everyone, regardless of how their team finishes.
When Wood Allen said, "showing up is 80% of life," I don't think he meant that awards should be given for such a basic requirement. I think that he was alluding to the very low expectations we set for ourselves. It's the other 20% that separates the stand-outs from the also-rans.
The questions that really bug the bejeezes out of me, though are not the dumb ones. Most of those are based on a lack of comprehension, poor listening skills or fear of committing some horrendous mistake. The people who ask the question the speaker just answered can neither help themselves nor think for themselves. They need everything explained to them individually and explicitly.
The really annoying questions are those asked by people in love with their own voices. The questions are rarely relevant to whatever's being discussed and usually serve as a platform for the inquisitor to launch into a little story about himself. Or herself. We all know these people.
A very long time ago I was part of a group visiting the ancient ruins of Egypt (spoiler alert: Skip Egypt, it's old, hot and dusty). We saw the Valley of the This, the Valley of the That, this guy's tomb, that guy's tomb, and on and on ad nauseum.
One guy in the group, who turned out to be a serial philanderer had one ready every time the tour guide asked if there were any questions. Invariably, it was something extremely obscure and uninteresting, the answer to which only he, the inquisitor knew. It's possible we left him down there in the Tomb of Tutankhamun. I know that several people wanted to.
Another thing we tell ourselves and each other, which is a total fabrication is that everyone is entitled to an opinion. No, everyone is NOT entitled to an opinion.
We live in one of, if not the lowest information culture of modern civilization. Guys in duck blinds with 6th grade educations feel empowered to opine on science, economics, history, social studies, paleontology and a host of other subjects about which they haven't a clue.
Do you like blondes or redheads? Do you believe in love at first sight? Should the Pope do mass in an Adidas track suit? Do you like ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?
These are the kinds of questions that require no insight, no knowledge, no serious thought. In other words, these are the kinds of questions that anyone can answer. Please feel free to speak your mind on any or all of the above referenced subjects.
On serious matters, keep your mouth shut. Don't say that women's bodies can cancel a pregnancy caused by "legitimate" rape. Don't say that Evolution comes from the pits of Hell. While those may technically be opinions, the rest of us should not be subjected to them. That's the kind of mindless drivel you should keep to yourself.
I wouldn't expect anyone to take me seriously if I gave my opinion on how to enhance images coming from the Hubble Space Telescope. I'd expect them to file that under the headline, "He's talking out of his ass."
We're bombarded by idiot opinions, which wouldn't be a problem if it weren't for the fact that so many people who hear these idiot opinions then adopt them as their own. Apparently stupidity is contagious.
Michele Bachmann recently said that eliminating the minimum wage would go a long way to lower the unemployment rate. Can you even imagine how many people businesses could hire at $2.00 an hour?
Shouldn't she be facing the other way if she's going to be talking out of her ass?
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