Stupid Questions2004-07-20 14:07:31
It's always seemed to me that "stupid questions" are firmly linked to the notion of "public embarassment": you're in a business meeting or a lecture and a question comes to your mind. But everyone else appears to comprehend the material, so you fear you'll come off as an idiot if you ask about something you don't understand. In practice, what's usually happening is some kind of group "mind-lock" where a number of people have the same question you do -- but nobody wants to admit it. In general, I've found it's best to simply ask away -- it can be fun and gratifying to see the obvious looks of relief on other people's faces. Plus it can increase your manna in the group: everyone else now thinks yer kicking ass and taking names and getting to the bottom of things.
That said, there are questions that really are stupid:
- If you aren't paying attention and you repeat a question someone else just asked -- it's a stupid question.
- "Is this going to be on the exam?" is another stupid question for many, many (hopefully obvious) reasons.
- If you're asking a question because you want to show everyone how smart you are, it's a stupid question.
- If you're in a stupid meeting that no-one wants to attend in the first place and it's ending and the host says "any questions?" and you ask a question, it is a stupid question. Likewise if your questions are prolonging a late Friday afternoon meeting. To be fair, your question(s) may actually be quite intelligent. But you are asking them stupidly.
 Ref Build A Better Life By Stealing Office Supplies: Dogbert's Big Book Of Business, page 97. It's the only completely accurate book ever written about life in a large corporation.