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Yes Virginia, There Are Stupid Questions

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/24/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 331 times Debate No: 94046
Debate Rounds (4)
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In the many classes, seminars, discussion groups, etc, that I have attended over the years I have heard repeated ad nauseum, "There is no such thing as a stupid question." Well, I completely disagree. In this debate, a stupid question will be defined as any question lacking basic intelligence or common sense.

Round 1 - Acceptance.

Round 2 - I will present five stupid questions (with their sources) that were actually asked. The five question limit is for the sake of avoiding lengthy arguments. My opponent will explain how each question is in fact "not stupid" in whatever manner they deem most effective.

Round 3 - I will argue against my opponents explanations, and my opponent will rebutt my argument/defend the explanations.

Round 4 - Free space for final words.


Kyle_The_Heretic - I accept your challenge.

I was also under the false perception of the ideal that there are stupid questions, however have since been enlightened to the fact.

The fact (For dramatic effect), will be explained in due course, however I pass the debate seat to my dear opponent here, to present his five examples, to which we will both pick up, analyze, and deduce rational explanations to explain them.

I for one, cannot wait to see what evidence i may use! :D
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Zarium for accepting this debate.

Here are the questions:

How do you spell "GPS". (14th question). [1]

Where does the Sun go at night? (15th question). [1]

So it's eight kilometres away ... is that in miles? (22nd question) . [2]

Was it you or your brother that was killed in the war? (4th question). [3]

How many times have you committed suicide? (13th question). [3]






Hahah very entertaining questions!

I would like to shed the light that these quotes are used for the purpose of entertainment, and have been selected directly outside of quotes, so I would like to present the distinct possibility that these could be the cruel prank of someone taking advantage of a mentally handicapped person - Or they could simply be something someone sat down to think of the funniest questions that would derive scorn.

Those reasons are of course not provable for either of us (For or against) - I will continue with other arguments, but just showing this possibility.

1. There is a mental disorder, which my actual brother has problems with, which is called Dyslexia - or the inability to articulate letters and/or words competently/brokenly.
This disorder varies from just slight misinterpretation of letter combinations, to physically switching letters of a word, and being unable to see the difference (e.g. God, or Dog?)
source :
Please note that the writer of the wikipedia article specifies primarily as a 'reading' disorder, but writing is within the same ball park - i.e if someone reads the letters in different or incorrect order, they will write it as they see it. If you honestly have an issue regarding this I can find further links to confirm my point.

2. This question could be posed from a child - or asked sarcastically - People do not know what shape the earth is until told or figure out on their own, until then there are mysteries regarding how this universe we are in works! it doesn't seem so silly to want to understand what happens when things leave our view, is it?

3. Miles and Kilometers are separate units, perhaps this is a warped way of asking for clarification.

4. Death can regularly and often halt one in their tracks, I myself have asked blunderous questions regarding a persons passed relative, intending to open up dialogue and have them remember good things about that person, and instead embarrassing myself and upsetting the person. I was hoping for context for each of your questions that would assist with confirming the validity and justification of these questions.

5. Potential misgrasp of what the word suicide stands for, if someone has not taught them the meaning, then questions asked incorrectly, intending to get a proper response. It comes down to the understanding of the human language here. (our sayings, especially when someone stuffs up can be "oh god, please kill me now", "I wish I was dead!" and others of that nature) - These sayings can make understanding our language and the severity of the word "suicide" to seem something painful, but inherently consequence free - Which of course it is not!

Basically I can explain these quotes without having to understand the context - The reason being, if someone does not possess knowledge regarding a subject, ANY subject - they can be classed as an inherent danger to themselves and others, as not knowing something can lead to disastrous consequences.

Let me give you an example of not knowing something - If someone was to suggest to you tomorrow that we can implement a system that will completely and efficiently destroy the mosquito (Or midge) infestation around the world, without harming a single other being on this planet, (this is hypothetical) - nearly every single person in the world would clamor in unanimous agreement - "GET RID OF THOSE PESTS, THOSE DISEASE CARRYING MONSTERS!".

Now, this is my hypothesis on the results - No more diseases like malaria, Ross river virus (Good!) - no more annoying bite marks and itchy bumps!
There would also be catastrophic destruction to ecosystems, animals that rely on mosquito's in the Amazon, and other swamp/mangrove environments would be devastated. Immune systems would take a most definite toll, increasing the chances of being infected by super virus's.

Now in the above scenario, before the bugs were destroyed, do you think the question "Is it a bad idea to get rid of these pests" would be laughed at as a 'stupid' question?

The very act of making one think a question could be stupid actually stops questions from being asked, which stop things from being investigated or improved - Do you think the military would be as rigid or the churches so cantankerous had they accepted any and all questioning from both internal and external sources?

Questions = growth and understanding which improves...... everything, that in itself can be used as proof that there are no stupid questions, simply impatient teachers.
Debate Round No. 2


While the questions given in this debate were undeniably presented on the internet for the purpose of entertainment, that was not the original intent of the questions, as can be seen in the context of the sources. Entertainment is merely a consequence, as most foolishness is often wont to be. Shakespeare's pen provides us with an amusing truth: All the world's a stage. [1]

Reasons are rarely provable in conjecture derived from the internet. Nevertheless, "stupidity" is an undeniable fact of life. Otherwise, there would be no point in defining the word. That "stupidity" is often injected into questions, of which five examples have been offered in this debate. Yes, the questions could very well have been fabricated, but life dictates that they could be, and are indeed, very likely true.

As for the possibility of the questioners being mentally handicapped; with the unlikely exception of the tourist, the sources strongly indicate that the questions were posed by competent people: Two educated students, and two attorneys.


If this question were to be viably excused by dyslexia, would not the question have more appropriately been: How do you spell GSP?

According to the source, the question was asked by an 8th grade student. Accepting that the question was truly asked, and not made up for the sake of entertainment, it is reasonable to believe that a teacher would not make fun of an 8th grade student struggling with dyslexia. A condition any experienced teacher would quickly ascertain from a student.

Simple reasoning clearly shows that a young, mentally stable, woman in her mid teens asked how to spell something that was obviously self evident. When it comes to asking a stupid question, she is not excused.


According to the source, the question was posed by a high school student, not a child. Unless the student was deprived of an education before participating in a high school science class, which is highly unlikely, she should have been knowledgeable of the basics of astronomy, knowing that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Even if she were never taught the basics of astronomy, a girl in her mid teens, mentally capable of attending a high school science class, should be able to note the passing of the Sun, and make simple deductions. Her question falls in line with a pregnant girl asking where babies come from.


I agree that the question is warped ... in a stupid way. While those with an average, or even higher, education may not necessarily know the measure of distance that separates kilometers and miles, they well know that the two are not related, save that they both denote a measure of distance.

The difference between meters and inches is taught to young children. There is little excuse for not knowing the difference.


The context can be found at the question's source. This question was asked by an attorney in a court of law. There is no two ways to look at this question. When an educated man asks another man if he or his brother died, the question is clearly a stupid one.


Non sequitur. There is only one plain definition of suicide: The taking of one's own life. An attorney is asking a living person how many times he/she has killed himself/herself. The question is undeniably stupid.

As to the final statement: Again, non sequitur. The "quotes" are questions asked in ignorance, not in uninformed desperation.


[1] As You Like It, act II, scene VII


Apologies, i thought this was more entertainment, but as you have put in effort, so shall I.

At this stage, I would like to point out that within this argument, all i must do is make a solid defense to each example, something that can most definately explain each seperate scenario - so that there is a definite possibility that the question is not 'stupid' within at least one logically reached deduction. As neither has much information, the possibility that I may bismirch my opponents claims, will be the best I can do to prove my case(s).

I noted during your last round you noted that stupidity must be injected into a question, and for stupidity to be an undeniable fact of life.
I disagree, Stupidity is completely subjective in regards that a pile of trash an artist has put together would be considered stupid by some, and compeletly genious by others. You state that a subjective injection of stupidity from the asker must be done, for their question to be regarded as stupid - Again, that is where we differ - The word you dub as stupidity, I refer to as "ignorance" - an ignorant person may ask a seemingly obvious question to a person who has experience and understanding - but to the asker, it is a legitimate request to lift their ignorance. For 'stupidity' to be injected, the listener must be the 'injector' for it to be considered 'stupid'.

1. For someone to be 'viably excused' as a sufferer of dyslexia, they must have troubles with spelling - stating that someone is only possibly dyslexic, simply because they didnt spell GPS incorrectly correctly, means nothing to the validability of my claim - their misunderstanding of the English language required justification - Perhaps they thought it spelt Geepieess - We have no idea what their phonetic understanding is, thus this is a concept that is irrefutable.

Simple reasoning will show that no one can specifically verify the sanity of another human being without further understanding of said human. We are effectively at a logical impasse. I hope we can call this a positive tie to my side, as it is completely understandable as a defense, but not proveable within context. You may digress, however here is to hoping.

I myself, was not given any geography or 'astrological' learning until year 10 onwards, when i was well into my teenage years.
I had the benefit of books, and games to be my teacher in this regards, however our privilage of knowledge does not mean that we may disparage those who may or may not have experienced anything within this area. Disparaging ones' ignorance is a case of bullying, not a 'stupid' question.

You agree the question is warped, I class this as accepted - The fact you state it is 'stupid' after is irrelevant.
I myself often start conversation halfway through in my head, or when i speak - i am so eager to say what i thought, i miss words (so instead of asking "Whats the plan?" - it comes out as "The plan?") - neither has an understanding of the context so again, my possible explanation was even acceptable by your standards - though it is 'stupid warped' to you.

The difference between meters and inches are only taught in countries that still use imperial measurments - Assuming that all humans are taught the difference between a world-wide accepted measurment standard (Metric), and then the measurement system that is retained by a handful of countries, (Impirical), is classic ignorance.

Apologies, i miss read the context for that one.

This is something that I will reference in the 5 quote as well, as both are tactics used by lawyers - hardly accounting to be a 'stupid' question - I would personally refer to them as morally corrupt, increadibly hurtful questions.

There are quite a few lawyers who have stratagies that can be classed as "pitbull", "shark" and "bully" - these are the kind of lawyers you expect criminals to find, to simply 'get them out of prison' in movies - but usually they just use whatever tactic or loophole, weak spot or exploit to win their cases.

There have been multiple documented cases where a lawyer has asked incredibly brutal and forthright questions to a witness or defendant with the intention of shocking that person - so they either lose credibility, or the convictions of the accusations are viewed in doubtful lights.

Whilst i cannot find this case in particular (Little information, and little experience finding american court histories) - I have an example of some of the very hurtful and shocking questions a lawyer will ask to try and 'win' their cases. It is the recently reported Brock Turner Rape allegations.

I was going to copy and paste the quotes I wanted - however the banner at the top of the site carries each section i wished to bring up.
There is a banner at the top which contains each piercing question asked by the lawyer to try and discourage the victims version of the story - To try and weaken her standing so they can have a stronger foundation on their side.

If that is an unacceptable link - as it is buzz feed - I will locate a suitable link; However please message me via comments, and i will rectify the same.

5. (Refer to 4.)

I will refrain from further conclusions, and await my opponents response.
Debate Round No. 3


The title of this debate can be misconstrued as more silly than serious, so an apology is unnecessary.

My opponent attempts to manipulate the circumstances of each example question to extract the "stupidity" from them, but her attempts are based purely on unsupported speculation and personal opinion, making her attempts superficial at best.

Being subjective does not diminish the overwhelming existence of stupidity, and someone's personal opinion of a work of art cannot be compared to asking a stupid question. A more appropriate comparison would be someone with a knowledge of how heat can burn, grabbing a very hot object, that they know is too hot, with their bare hands. After, "Are you alright?" The first words likely uttered, possibly even by the person grabbing the object would be, "Wow, that was stupid."

Fact: People do and say stupid things. Questions are not immune to that stupidity.

Few will argue that an experienced teacher can quickly recognize dyslexia. Fewer will claim that a teacher would belittle such a condition. Looking at the source, logic and reason dictate that the student posing the question is not mentally afflicted. Asking how to spell something that obviously spells itself is not due to any form of ignorance; it is due to a failure to stop and think, plain and simple. The question, no matter how you look at it, is a stupid one.

A question of sanity is mentioned. This is a non sequitur, as sanity is not a factor. Neither dyslexia or lack of sanity can be ascertained from the source.

My opponent claims to have received no "geography or 'astrological' (though she likely meant "asrtonomical") learning" until she was in (year 10) high school. I can only respond by asking for the names of the elementary and middle/junior high schools she attended, so I can report them for failing to properly educate their students. I am unaware of any lower level schools that fail to teach the basics of geography and astronomy. If my opponent can prove that the student posing the question was reasonably ignorant, fine. However, the teacher presenting the situation is under the clear impression that the student should have known better. That being the case, the question is a stupid one.

My agreement that a question is warped was an introduction to cynicism, nothing more. That the question is stupid is highly relevant, because the question is highly stupid. What is irrelevant is comparing the question to a statement started half way through one's head. The question that confuses kilometers and miles clearly has nothing to do with half spoken thoughts.

The person asking the question is clearly an American tourist visiting Canada. I challenge my opponent to find one single institution of education in America that does not teach all primary measuring systems. My opponent's manipulation of the circumstances to allow for an accusation of ignorance is itself ignorant. The circumstances in the source make it very clear that the person posing the question is without excuse. The question remains stupid.

My opponent attempts to manipulate the attorney questions into bullying tactics to justify them as "not stupid." But she fails, because even if applied as a bullying tactic, the questions could easily be thrown back into their faces.

Example 1

Q. "Was it you or your brother who died?"

A. "I don't know, why don't you ask my brother?"

Example 2

Q. "How many times have you committed suicide?"

A. "I don't know, I've lost count. How many times does it look like I've died?"

In both examples, the attorney is made to look foolish. So, no matter what the tactic, the questions remain stupid.

My opponent believes that claiming a question can be stupid discourages people from asking questions. This is, to some degree, true. But people who carefully form questions in their mind need not fear. Take the earlier example of someone grabbing a burning object, that they know is too hot, with their bare hand. Doing so is careless, foolish, completely lacking common sense. In other words, stupid. So, because people do stupid things, should they therefore be afraid to do anything? Of course not, they should simply be more mindful, thinking the action out first. The same applies to asking questions.

My opponent should be praised for her attitude. Her heart is in the right place, but it does not follow a reasonable and logical line of thinking. We should recognize that there are indeed stupid questions, just as there are stupid actions, so that we can refine questions to be more productive, and not so "entertaining."

Note: I have responded to my opponent as if she were female. There is nothing I noted in her profile that establishes gender, and her style of writing seems more feminine than masculine, so I responded accordingly. If she is in fact a he, then I offer my apologies.


My opponent has falsely claimed i am Female, because my writing style is 'feminine' - How? Define to me how my writing style symbolises in any way my gender, It is simply words, used within the context of the English language, with appropriate grammar.
For reference, I am a Male. (not sure how this is relevent). I would advise my opponent to utilise basic tactics to 'gray' gender in a debates - use terminology such as "my opponent", or your opponents stance (Pro,Con) - this will stop any embarrasing leaps to conclusion. (Some may even call your assumption as 'stupid' - but as my point stands, stupidity is subjective - you were simply ignorant).


"but her attempts are based purely on unsupported speculation and personal opinion, making her attempts superficial at best."

There is a saying - "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones" - My point of contention here is that stupidity is subjective - You are basing your entire argument upon unsuported speculation and personal opinion (i.e. if you didnt think they were stupid, then this debate would not be in existance) - Don't attempt to undermind my lack of fact, by trying to smokescreen your own.


You saying that it being subjective does not diminish the overwhelming existence of supidity - Again this is subjective, The same as a hypothetical scenario where aliens consider all advances we have made in fossil fuel - they would probably look at that as 'stupid' - Who uses a finite resources for that long, after proof that it destroys their foundation of survival??
Even that hypothetical example is based upon the subjective views of said aliens, All of mankind celebrate and revel in our ingenious progressions through technology.

These examples you have, were brought up by people; People have their opinions (i.e. making the question 'stupid'), to then place out in the internet, you happen to agree with that one persons opinion, and have subjectively brought it about as fact - We are not arguing stupidity - just stupid questions (Which are none, unless looked at by a subjective point).

You have asked for me to prove many things "Prove that the student was reasonably ignorant", "if it was dyslexia, wouldn't it be GSP?" - All these are subtle tactics to push the fact that BoP comes from those making the accusation - which is "that the questions are stupid."

All these defenses at asking me to answer your questions, when you are the one that needs to prove their intelligence, sanitiy and any other disorders that may present to explain how your accusation that these questions are stupid, are in fact - stupid.

I have bended my position of defensive to answer some of these questions, yet this has somehow given you the expectation that it is up to me to prove you wrong - No. You must prove yourself correct for it to be considered correct. Unfortunately this is the last round, so we cannot continue unfortunately.


Now regarding your lawyer parts - Picture yourself in the position of the person being interrogated by an aggresive lawyer - Something either happened to you that was either traumatizing, or something that you did that was horrifying. (petty claims usually do not require expensive or aggressive lawyers).

Now if it is the first scenario, you have gone through the situation many, many times in your head - relived the horrifying moments that may have happened to you, and then up front questions are brought with the specific intention of putting you off guard.
You expect to have a plithy response in a court, surrounded by strangers, (some potentially hostile) - to relive the horrible moment in your life??
Rediculous to say the least.

The second scenario - either you are a psycopath with no sense of remorse, which means you may have a response for the lawyer if such a question is given to you... However most humans have consciences, and such a question may be enough to put them from a structured response line, to actually having to think of responses while they are on the stand, away from their lawyer who can only object to questions if they are legitimately objectionable, the chances of a crook cracking in those circumstances are huge.

In both scenarios i can show you that without the benefit of 3 days to respond to our debates, it can be much, MUCH harder to come up with applicable responses to such forthright and offensive questions.


I will not raise new points this round, or answer any more points raised by my opponent in the last round, as there is no where to go, and I anticipate that each of my responses will deem another response from my opponent, which is not fair in my perspective (Me getting the last word in).

This has been a fun debate - And whilst personally I do agree there are questions that I would consider as stupid - that doesn't mean that the questiosn themselves are classed as stupid. My opponent seems to think that if enough people say 'that's stupid' - then that makes it fact.
By this claim, God is a 100% proven fact. Earth and its' people are controlled by 6 family corporations - All potentially true, however Facts and proof are required of the situations to actually make those suspicions or accusations true.

I feel that during this debate, while both parties have been cordial to each other - my opponent has been subtly leaning upon his personal views in regards to this debate, and exposing his own ignorance in the process - an example is that my opponent could have simply asked what other would consider a 'stupid' questions - i.e. "What gender are you", or "are you a boy or a girl?" to lift their ignorance, but in their fear of being called stupid regarding the context, they proceeded to do something far more stupid in my opinion - which is jump to a conclusion.
That fact of jumping into the wrong answer, stands for the exact reason why I believe there are no such thing as stupid questions - If my opponent had simply asked that one question, their ignorance would be lifted - If they still made the claim that i was women, then that would be false - We would consider it stupid, but it would simply be false.

Stupidity is subjective - Ignorance is the actual danger here, and our ego as humans - as males even - stop us from taking those few minutes to gather truth, or to bully those who take the time to alleviate their ignorance.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by kwagga_la 3 months ago
A woman called me the other day asking to speak to some lady. After explaining to her that i do not know the woman and never heard of her the caller then asked me: Do you have a number were I can reach her? I agree with you, there is such a thing as a stupid question.
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