As we age, we change the dumb questions that we ask. As children, we asked questions like “Why is the sky blue?” and “Why is there war?” and “Why don’t the rich people just share with the poor people so nobody would be hungry?” They are dumb questions only because adults don’t know a good answer.
As children get older, their dumb questions get harder, so we parents resort to tried-and-true answers like “Because I said so.” This is usually every bit as satisfactory as the answers we gave to “Why is there war?”
In an attempt to get children and youth to ask questions, teachers often maintain that there is no such thing as a dumb question. Asking is essential for learning.
Of course, the teachers are not completely correct. These are dumb questions we ask at a later age:
Do Roman paramedics refer to IV’s as “4’s”?
What do people in China call their good plates?
Why do people tell you when they are speechless?
What happens if you’re half-scared to death, twice?
Do television evangelists do more than laypeople?
We used to live in a science-based world in which questions had actual answers based on what we used to call “facts.” This led to college science students chanting, “What do we want? Facts. When do we want them? After peer review.”
Now in America, facts are no longer facts. If you don’t like the concept of climate change, you simply say, “I don’t believe it.” If you don’t like the outcome of an election, “I don’t believe it.” This is much easier then trying to ascertain what corresponds to reality.
If there are no more actual answers that apply to everyone, then are there any dumb question anymore? Yes, that was one.
The wrong dumb question can bring even dumber answers.
For instance, one really dumb question is “If people in bars consume alcohol that makes many people both dumber and more violent, how can we make bars safer?”
That is a particularly dumb question to ask when a Republican-controlled legislature is in town, because they gave the answer and our Republican governor agreed. Make them safer by allowing everyone to carry a concealed weapon into any bar (or bank or college campus or government building) without any training or licensing of any kind.
That was the story on the front page of the Helena IR today. Democrats voted no. Republican proponents of the bill really said everyplace would be safer. Really dumb questions can lead to deadly dumb answers from people untethered from facts.
Don’t you long for the good old days when we had dumb questions like
“Should I tell my parents I’m adopted?”
Or, if you are a member of QAnon, “Did NASA invent thunderstorms to cover up the sound of space battles?”