Science/Tech

A Simple Guide To Asking Nonstupid Questions During Scientific Discussions

group discussion
They found that in most groups women spoke significantly less than their proportional representation, speaking less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke. eschipul/flickr

For reasons too many to list, science is one such field that thrives on arguments, with questions and theories going around before anyone can come up with a definitive answer that will then be accepted as fact. It’s also a lot of trial and error since making mistakes is an essential part of eventually correcting them, all for the sake of humanity.

The problem, however, is that while the field itself is great grounds for questioning and educating yourself, the sad (and even funny) truth is that not every question deserves the oxygen that it’s been given. Suffice it to say: Play stupid games, win stupid prizes. Trust us, you don’t want to be that guy. But we got your back, so here’s a quick guide to make sure you keep your scientific career:

A question just for you

While you’re expected to raise questions, you’re also expected to ask them in order to forward the conversation or spark some discussion. So don’t ask a question that would only interest you because this is a group chat. Save that one for later.

Combatively asked question

As mentioned above, science thrives on arguments. But that doesn’t mean  that you should throw antagonistic questions, even if you mean well. So calm yourself, there’s no need to be, well, hostile. This can, and should be, a friendly discussion between like-minded people all working in the same field.

The question… that ends in a period

Yeah, those are not questions at all, but comments. So think carefully as to what purpose it can have on the conversation, if it will even have one of course.

The question that, goes… ok, just give me a second to come up with something, hmm

Felt awkward reading that? Then think about an entire group feeling the same thing just because you decided that the best time to think of a question is right when the speaker calls on you. And it’s not like you didn’t have time to come up with one. Always be prepared.

The question that reveals you’re not listening

Not only is this rude, but it’s downright disrespectful. After all, why bother to be there if you don’t want to get engaged in a discussion?

The random question

Knowing when to ask is just as important as what to ask, so make sure that you ask them during the appropriate time. No one wants to get interrupted, after all.

group discussion They found that in most groups women spoke significantly less than their proportional representation, speaking less than 75 percent of the time that men spoke. eschipul/flickr

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