Proper Question, Proper Answer

on March 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

Your brain is more sophisticated than hitherto suspected when it comes to answering questions. The well-established idiom “I know the answers. It’s the questions I don’t understand” has more bite than you know.

It is the main reason that yes and no questions are so hard to answer. If I were to ask you if you were hungry, the answer would be an easy one. Yes, you are hungry, or no, you are not hungry. The answer would likely come quickly and accurately. Your brain knows exactly which state your stomach is in at all times. If I were to ask you the same question differently, than your brain is now stuck.

What if I were to pose the question as: Are you hungry or full? There is one, and only one answer to this question. The answer is yes! You are either hungry or full! To answer no would be to state that you’re… What?  You’re neither hungry nor full, but indifferent, which would require more than a yes or no answer. The brain then, has more work to do to answer that question. It needs to analyze the actual question for information before it can set a proper answer. What is the question asking? The one question must be divided into two separate questions: Am I hungry? Am I full?  Then, there needs to be an assessment made on intension of the two separate questions—what is actually being asked here. Then the proper answer is produced: I am hungry. Take notice that the answer is neither yes nor no.

Try another question. “Ben has not called today?” which, I am guessing is a poorly translated question in this article:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/06/150617135403.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily%2Fmind_brain%2Flanguage_acquisition+%28Language+Acquisition+News+–+ScienceDaily%29

As it is, it is more of a statement then a question. More like you are telling another person that Ben did not call today. Correcting for poor grammar translation, I think, we can pose the question as “Did Ben not call today?” which I have heard spoken in everyday language. Because the word “not” is used, it would take longer, slightly, to understand this question over the proper question of “Did Ben call today?” requiring a yes or no answer. I feel that the “not” word, being negative in nature, and the negatively natured “no” for an answer conflict enough to force your brain to think before answering. Think double-negatives! The double-negative here being: not no—therefore yes.

I think, mainly, that slower responses to questions of this nature are in the poor construction of the questions and get picked on by linguistics by being made more complicated then needed. In reality, some simple, properly phrased questions do have yes or no answers. Some questions are actually produced to make you think first and supply a longer answer. Some questions are asked, not because you need to answer at all, but to bring to your mind that the asker caught you red-handed and wants you to know you were caught. The question would be phrased as: Did you just break that?

To end this post on a happy note, some questions are never intended to make any sense because there is either, no real way to ask the question, or there is a lack of knowledge to venture into a proper question.

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