The Power of Questions – Part 2

Let me ask you this: What question will you ask after the one you ask next?

Asking questions is easy – we do it all day long: Do you have the time? Have you seen so-and-so today? Where did we park the car? What are we having for dinner? Should we have one glass of wine each, or four? But even simple questions have the ability to mess with your belief system in a big way. Lets for example, all agree that taking the life of someone is bad. Ok – that’s a belief correct? We both believe that taking another person’s life is bad. Now what happens when you start to ask questions? Questions like:

  • Are there people that believe it is good?
  • Why would they believe this?
  • What other beliefs must you possess in order to believe that you are correct?
  • Where did those beliefs come from?
  • Is is there ever justification?
  • What about in situation X?
  • Why not? Is that belief valid?
  • and so on..

In context these simple questions provide us with the ability to explore things even if they are completely contrary to what we believe. No one ever said you have to agree with the answers, yet are you willing to ask the questions to actually get the answers? I’m not saying asking questions of a thesis/PhD-type where you’re dedicating your life to finding the answers, but what about just asking enough to learn something new? And what happens when you learn something true and correct that is contrary to what we believe?

Now if we take the list of questions from above out of context, take out the ‘personal/beliefs’ references, and then apply them to….. the economy? religion? technology? anthropology? linguistics? Every day we are continually marveling at the advances and decline of humanity, yet advancements come from the hands of people who ask questions – decline comes from the hands of those who stopped asking.

… to be continued

The Power of Questions – Part 1

I do know that a question led to the purchase of a 1440 page book, yet on another level it is quite possibly proof that I did indeed injure my brain in a skateboarding accident many, many years ago…

It is said that the average 5 year old asks between 300-400 questions per day which to me is both insanely disturbing yet absolutely incredible. If we think about our day to day lives (now much older than 5), how many questions do we ask vs. how many statements to we make? My guess is that at first we likely don’t ask as many questions as we once did, yet we likely ask more than that because there are many questions we didn’t even realize we were asking.

Yes, of course it’s not about the quantity but the quality, right? Well generally, however, who are you to decide what a quality question is or not? Ok sure we can likely agree that rhetorical questions are not quality, but other than that, will you not ask because of you’re allowing your bias to screw up your judgment? Lets skip the debate over what makes a question good or not and purely focus on the actual power of asking a question.

While wandering through the book store I was skim-browsing some of the titles in the business section when I started to notice books by economists. Now having learned a bit more about economists and how they perceive and explore the world around them, titles I recognized started popping out. Always the junkie for purchasing books (reading optional – the intent is always there to read the book, yet it could take some time before I get to starting it.. Finishing it is a whole other topic.), I started to explore a couple books. What is this book about? Where do I know that author name from? Is this book really what I’m looking for? Is there something better right in front of my eyes that I’m not seeing? How much is this book in my hands? That much? Why? and so on…

After picking up a particular book to explore further and then looking for a more suitable perch for my coffee than the last precarious location, I noticed a massively thick book sitting on the top shelf. Ooooh, what’s that? Now the title of the big book is rather intriguing: “The Real Price Of EVERYTHING” edited with an introduction by Michael Lewis. At first I wondered if it was literally a book filled with items and their price at the time of compiled all printed insanely small and on bible paper to ensure maximum pages – thankfully it was not (but if the print was really small, and you were able to gather the data in a relatively short period of time – how many items could be listed in ~1400 pages?).

Rest of the long story short, I found myself asking: What if I actually read this entire book?, and the power of a simple question now sees a gaping hole where this book was located in the store, a surprised look on the cashier’s face as it slams into the counter, a little old lady thinking it was a bible then realizing it is not, and this book on the end of my desk in one of the cat’s many favourite sitting places. Sure there was the expected justification before, during, and well after the purchase, yet the power of a single question changed everything.

To be continued… (Part 2 in a couple days)