09 March 2013

Is there "no such thing as a stupid question" ?


A quick search confirms that that comment actually was made on television (by CNN anchor Deb Feyerick):
“We want to bring in our science guy, Bill Nye, and talk about something else that’s falling from the sky, and that is an asteroid,” the anchor said. “What’s coming our way? Is this the effect of, perhaps, global warming? Or is this just some meteoric occasion?”
Sigh...

16 comments:

  1. An ex prof of mine defined "a stupid question" as: "The question not only proves that the asker doesn't understand the subject at hand, but also lacks the fundamental requirements."

    This would certainly fit the bill.

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  2. Perhaps the anchor understood his audience too well. Hence the question.

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  3. The problem is that so-called journalists are not being fired for this. The only way for them to get fired is when they let an inappropriate word slip.

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    Replies
    1. Shes not a journalist... Shes on air talent.

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  4. Rather worrisome, isn't it? On a recent trip I met a person who I ended up engaging in random conversation with, and somehow global warming and fossil fuels came up. Fair enough. But no matter how hard I tried I couldn't get past the idea that "gas" is a fossil fuel as is oil, and coal is also. So the abstract idea that "anything we extract from the ground and burn will make some CO2" was beyond their reach. Never mind the science, politics, or economic realities of AGW, if we can't get "fossil fuel" to be well understood, that will be an issue.

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    Replies
    1. I guess if you don't believe in fossils or the process by which oil is "made", there is no logical chain of cause and effect.

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  5. The question is, Did Nye survive this or go into apoplectic shock?

    Lurker111

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  6. I've watched the interview on youtube, and I'm pretty sure that was just a brain fart. She had been talking about the blizzard and its link to global warming, and she jumped to another subject. You can see her hesitate when she asks that clearly unprepared, weirdly-worded question ('meteoric occasion'?).

    I don't think she's an idiot, I think she made a mistake.

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    Replies
    1. I agree with that version, I would even add that she makes a snarky smile when asking. That's the kind of thing I would say to ensure the scientific speaker explains better to a "stupid" audience.

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  7. I hold that a stupid question is one which the asker ought to have known the answer to or been able to figure out with a small application of thinking.

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    1. However, I have seen occasions when a question was asked and the asker KNEW the answer. But the reason for asking the question in the first place was either to check the knowledge or capability of the person being asked the question, or to help a third party understand the bigger picture. In fact, I've done that in class on occasion myself, usually because a fellow student had trouble understanding the instructor, and the instructor had trouble understanding what the other student was having problem with. Rather then interrupt the class by talking to the other student myself, or waiting until after class, I asked a "simple" question.

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  8. Well, global warning caused the holes in the atmosphere, thus allowing the meteor to fall through. Right? .-)

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    1. a) There are no known ozone holes where the asteroid entered the atmosphere over Russia. b) It's mostly the earth's magnetic field that protects us from asteroids. The atmospheric impact of the ozone layer to an asteroid would be minimal at best. According to wiki - "Ozone concentrations are greatest between about 20 and 40 kilometres (66,000 and 130,000 ft), where they range from about 2 to 8 parts per million. If all of the ozone were compressed to the pressure of the air at sea level, it would be only 3 millimeters thick."

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    2. Andrew, do you wonder why girls never call you back after the first date??

      And have you never seen a winky face and comprehended its meaning?

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  9. Really, Rose, maybe Andrew just missed the winky face and read antman's comment as legitimate. Even if he didn't, there is no need to insult him with your first question. That attempt at being hurtful is little short of bullying and should be confined to youtube, where it is all too common. You could have - but chose not to - simply pointed out that antman was making a joke. Shame on you. It must be great to be able to say such things on the internet. With US gun ownership levels, such insults in real person-to-person life often lead to violence.

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