October 24, 2005

When Is a Question Not

When Is a Question Not a Question?

If you’re anything like us, dear reader (and there’s a good shot that you aren’t), you attend numerous academic talks each year. We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” regularly find ourselves on the campuses of such prestigious colleges as Beaver College, Austin Peay, and sundry other humorously named institutions.

In addition, we often find ourselves at various think-tank colloquies, taking in the latest raving lunacy from the Cato Institute, for example. We consider it all part of our preparation for keeping up with the latest in the intellectual world. And academia.

We mention all of this, dear reader, because it offers the requisite background for the question that serves as the heart of today’s humble “post.” After literally decades of taking in umpteen lectures and sundry question-and-answer periods, we find ourselves obsessing about the same query: When is a question not a question?

Let us explain what we mean. As bad as academic and think-tank talks often are (and they’re mostly plenty bad, believe us), the question-and-answer sessions that follow are almost always more excruciating.

This appears to be the case for a very specific reason, which we have labeled the Irritatingly Ostentatious Question Syndrome, or IOQS for short. Although we, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” are not experts in public health, we have the sneaking suspicion that this particular disease infects graduate students like STDs infect undergraduates. That is to say, a lot.

Accordingly, the questions posed after a dry, impenetrable lecture are ineluctably tangential and moronic—and consciously so. The academic type, having been compelled to listen for an hour, simply must blather on about something, and must show off his unimpressive learning posthaste.

Thus the academic crafts an idiotic question, which is really a thinly veiled attempt at intellectual preening. We, the crack young staff of “The Hatemonger’s Quarterly,” have long wondered why these questioners don’t simply say “I know a lot of stuff,” instead of troubling us with their insipid pseudo-queries.

Posted at October 24, 2005 12:01 AM | TrackBack