World’s most stupid question

Aug 19th
Posted by shambo  as Education, Language

Let me say this about that.

Do you remember when you were in school, or in some class at work, and the instructor asked if anyone in the class had a question?  Usually no one asked a question for fear of looking stupid in front of the rest of the class.  Of course, we always had questions, but we relied on someone else asking ‘our’ question and taking the risk of looking stupid.  Apparently, it is embedded in the human DNA to prefer ignorance over the appearance of looking stupid.

This was reinforced through our early school years by kids laughing at us in class for ‘asking a stupid question’.  And later on in adulthood, in a training class phenomenon made famous by a quotation from Mark Twain:

“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear as a fool, than open it and…    remove all doubt.”

Occasionally, early on in my career, I was asked to lecture at a number of universities as part of their ‘Visiting Lecturer’  program.  And although these lectures were usually conducted in conjunction with a Master’s Degree program in engineering, I found that Mark Twain’s axiom applied even these bright young minds at the college graduate level. 

These lectures were usually a one shot deal, so I had no time to build a rapport with these kids to overcome their reticence in asking questions.  In order to overcome this problem, I usually started each lecture with an exercise where I instructed each student to make up the ‘most stupid question in the world’.  I then asked each student to openly put his or her stupid question to the rest of the class.  It worked well in overcoming the “Mark Twain Syndrome” and after hearing the ‘stupid questions’, they lost their fear of asking about the lecture’s subject matter.  And as a by product, I was also able to build a treasure trove of the ‘world’s most stupid questions’ in the bargain.  Allow me to share a few with you:

“How does aspirin know where to go?”

A ubiquitous pain-reliever like aspirin seems to know whether you have a headache, have contracted a case of tennis elbow, or the bursitis in your knee is acting up.  It’s a miracle!

“How do you throw away a garbage can?”

I actually tried this a few times.  Apparently an empty garbage can is evidence to the garbage man that he is having a good day.

 “How do they get deer to cross the road at the yellow signs?”

Damn !!  That’s a helluva good question.

“How did the first guy to milk a cow know what to do?”

I’m not touching that one.

“Why don’t psychics ever win the lottery?”

I don’t really know for sure.  Maybe there is a ‘psychic channel-blocker’ on lottery numbers.

“Why does a fisherman, standing on a river bank, always cast his bait as far out into the river as possible – and -  why does fisherman in a boat in the middle of a river, always cast his bait as close to the shore as possible?”

Probably for the same reason a person on the top floor of a skyscraper puts money into a telescope to better see things close to the ground.

“Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of the bottle?”

The same reason thermos bottles know to keep coffee hot and iced tea cold.  OK, that was just a guess.

“Why is there no such thing as mouse-flavored cat food?”

An excellent question !!  Probably has something to do with the absence of cat-flavored dog food.

“Why is ‘reverse discrimination’ different from ‘discrimination’?”

Well, a more stupid question might be: “Why is ‘reverse discrimination’ a seperate concept only in the United States?”

Actually, now that I think about it, that’s not such a stupid question. 

And, that’s all I have to say about that.



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