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Old 04-20-2006, 02:20 PM   #1
da2el.ni4na
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like beauty, the stupidity of a question

This may be beating a dead horse, but have a look at this article, "There Is Such a Thing as a Stupid Question" ...
http://chronicle.com/free/v52/i31/31b00501.htm
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Old 04-20-2006, 02:30 PM   #2
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

yea I agree with the article. I have always thought a stupid question is one that I just answered and you weren't listening or didn't care to listen....or one that is asked without real regard for wanting to know the answer!
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Old 04-20-2006, 02:40 PM   #3
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

There are no stupid questions... only stupid people who ask questions

Bronson

"A pacifist is not really a pacifist if he is unable to make a choice between violence and non-violence. A true pacifist is able to kill or maim in the blink of an eye, but at the moment of impending destruction of the enemy he chooses non-violence."
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Old 04-20-2006, 02:54 PM   #4
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

The only stupid question...is the one you don't ask!
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Old 04-20-2006, 03:15 PM   #5
Patrick Crane
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

The question that is a major pet peeve of mine, and that I think is truly stupid is "why."
(Right up there with, "Can I ask you a question?")

Why, you ask (lol).

"Why" is a meaningless, random question that doesn't require any thought or serve any purpose.
A four year old can just sit there and ask "why" all day long.

Whenever anyone asks me "why" I immediately respond with "What do you mean?"
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Old 04-20-2006, 03:34 PM   #6
da2el.ni4na
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

I was about to do a for school-style write-up on the article, but I had this thought first. It has to do with motivation (which I'm sure will lead to the word "commitment" at some point).
Let's say you have someone who feels offended by another person. If you asked them something to get them to think deeply on the experience, some might answer, "What do you mean, think about it. They sounded like so, so I was offended of course." Continuing to try persuasion rationally or truthfully can easily ignore the individual's human/ego/insecurity responses, and ultimately not get anyone anywhere.
With the same hypothetical person, you can leave them alone, on the other hand. If they feel some curiosity or motivation to face the "deeper" issues, meet them then perhaps. However, I think all too often we try to feel fine about things, and left to ourselves, people do not face issues any more deeply than is demanded in their daily life. We can "get by" in our lives.
For some people, getting by is enough. For others it is less than desirable. When the two interact or meet, the "getting by" people may feel that the "deeper" people are invalidating their experience, even when the exact opposite may be intended.
How can communication between these two people, or these two extremes, overcome perhaps fundamental differences in perspective and be constructive? How would you effectively communicate to someone that their question was "stupid" and how would you then point them toward "better" questions? Even trickier, how would you help guide them *appropriately or suitably for them*, without completely giving up on their becoming deeper, smarter, etc.?
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Old 04-20-2006, 08:51 PM   #7
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

A very nice post Daniel - nice questions - timely too.

Thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
Visit our web site for articles and videos. Senshin Center - A Place for Traditional Martial Arts in Santa Barbara.
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Old 04-21-2006, 06:24 AM   #8
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Quote:
Daniel Nishina wrote:
For some people, getting by is enough. For others it is less than desirable. When the two interact or meet, the "getting by" people may feel that the "deeper" people are invalidating their experience, even when the exact opposite may be intended.

How can communication between these two people, or these two extremes, overcome perhaps fundamental differences in perspective and be constructive? How would you effectively communicate to someone that their question was "stupid" and how would you then point them toward "better" questions? Even trickier, how would you help guide them *appropriately or suitably for them*, without completely giving up on their becoming deeper, smarter, etc.?
Q: How can communication between ...?
A: First and foremost, each person must not try to "sway", "intimidate", "force", or "persuade" the other side with their own philosophies. Instead, each side must remain open and neutral.

Q: How would you effectively communicate ...?
A: You would discard your "level", "base", "understanding" and instead adopt the other person's "level", "base", "understanding" and then derive an answer from that adopted stance/knowledge. That way, the answer is easily understood by the other person.

Q: How would you help guide them ...?
A: You shouldn't. There should be no guide unless the other person is asking to be guided. At that point, the other person is open to at least some form of communication where they can be guided. Otherwise, don't guide.

The best thing I ever read that relates to this subject (and I forget where I read it) went something like this:

If you are arguing, communicating, contesting with another person of daimetric viewpoints, then do not provide the other person with answers. Calmly and with as little emotion, provide them with supporting statements to your side. If the other person is open to change, then let them come to their own answers and conclusions. A person coming to their own conclusions and answers will adopt a change more readily than a person who has it forced upon them.

And, if the person isn't open to change, you aren't going to change their mind no matter what you say or do.

Mark
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Old 04-21-2006, 07:54 AM   #9
da2el.ni4na
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Hi Mark,
It sounds like you're of the "let them alone" view, which I can certainly agree with, especially since
I'm currently studying psychotherapy.

[quote] Calmly and with as little emotion, provide them with supporting statements to your side.
With the above quote, you seem to concede that it is good to reach out and communicate with someone in that original hypothetical situation. Although any human being cannot receive information absolutely neutrally, when you wrote "open and neutral" I'm guessing that you're trying to say one should communicate without intending to persuade or dissuade. (However, I feel with the two quotes I'm mentioning here, I'm getting from you two contradicting viewpoints.)

Concretely speaking, and to use some counseling ideas, I think in a dojo "modeling" and behavioral directives are probably central, at least traditionally. If someone doesn't bow, clean, they come in to attack wildly or attempt techniques to hastily, I think (and hope) that most teachers and senior students would engage those people somehow. Many people would pick up on the modeling, especially if enough people were doing so that it was an evident part of the dojo culture, but sometimes they do not. I'm sure we would typically see this regarding cleaning, specifically, and mor generally, when the person saw other, different models. For example, you could model for your children how to keep the house tidy, but they might be more inclined to accept the model of their messy teenager sibling.
In any case, my point is, let's say you feel it would actually be good, highly desirable, or even necessary that someone accept a view or at least behavior that they do not seem to be doing on their own. My originaly question was meant to include such situations (although I left it open because of course the process of seeing people's interpretations is part of the discussion.)
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Old 04-21-2006, 08:01 AM   #10
da2el.ni4na
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Just to clarify, when I said "'modeling' and behavioral directives", I meant it in contrast to a person understanding first, then doing a behavior, which I see happens in Western cultures much more often. So there's "acting" the part first, then "growing into it" intrinsically, in contrast with understanding why and what one is supposed to do first, then doing it, possibly based only upon one's own interpretation or with external guidance.
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Old 04-21-2006, 09:10 AM   #11
MM
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Quote:
Daniel Nishina wrote:
Hi Mark,
It sounds like you're of the "let them alone" view, which I can certainly agree with, especially since
I'm currently studying psychotherapy.
Hello Daniel,
Probably only in a general sense. For example, if two people are talking politics and I'm one of them, then, yeah, I kind of try to follow that. After all, politics is a very passionate topic and most people really aren't open to change their views.

Quote:
Daniel Nishina wrote:
Quote:
Calmly and with as little emotion, provide them with supporting statements to your side.
With the above quote, you seem to concede that it is good to reach out and communicate with someone in that original hypothetical situation. Although any human being cannot receive information absolutely neutrally, when you wrote "open and neutral" I'm guessing that you're trying to say one should communicate without intending to persuade or dissuade. (However, I feel with the two quotes I'm mentioning here, I'm getting from you two contradicting viewpoints.)
Yeah, when I mentioned open and neutral, I meant that the person must not try to persuade or dissuade. Because in that mental state, both parties will learn something.

There was a lesson that my aikido sensei used to use. He would pick out two people and have them face each other. He would tell one of them to recite a story. He would say that it was important to get your story across to the other person. He would turn to the other person and say the same thing, only using a different story. Then he'd ask them if they were ready and then say "go" in a quick, authoritative voice.

Each and every time, the two people would instantly start talking to each other and their voices would raise, etc. Sensei would stop them. He would ask each one exactly what they had heard and/or learned of the other person's story. Neither would know anything.
He would then ask them why didn't one of them wait for the other to tell their story before they started their own?

The students weren't open and neutral and had their own agenda to further. Because their mentality was such, it was useless for either one of them to a) get their point/story across and b) learn anything.

Quote:
Daniel Nishina wrote:
Concretely speaking, and to use some counseling ideas, I think in a dojo "modeling" and behavioral directives are probably central, at least traditionally. If someone doesn't bow, clean, they come in to attack wildly or attempt techniques to hastily, I think (and hope) that most teachers and senior students would engage those people somehow. Many people would pick up on the modeling, especially if enough people were doing so that it was an evident part of the dojo culture, but sometimes they do not. I'm sure we would typically see this regarding cleaning, specifically, and mor generally, when the person saw other, different models. For example, you could model for your children how to keep the house tidy, but they might be more inclined to accept the model of their messy teenager sibling.
In any case, my point is, let's say you feel it would actually be good, highly desirable, or even necessary that someone accept a view or at least behavior that they do not seem to be doing on their own. My originaly question was meant to include such situations (although I left it open because of course the process of seeing people's interpretations is part of the discussion.)
But, a dojo environment is different. You have people coming in to actually learn something. They are, in some fashion, open to learning. So, typically, things can be done differently. A teacher or senior student can breach a subject, such as cleaning, with a student and teach them how the dojo operates. The student is in a somewhat receptive manner. If not, that student typically doesn't stay long.

Or, looking at it this way, when a student comes to aikido, do they not accept a behavior not their own and do they not accept a view not of their own? In other words, when you start studying aikido, you learn to roll in a certain way which goes completely against everything you've done up to that point (for most people), you start learning how to blend with an attack rather than shrink from it or block it, and you start accepting a view of harmony rather than just single egocentricity (is that even a word?).

Thanks for an interesting thread and posts. I think my brain actually woke up because it was forced to think.

Mark
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Old 04-21-2006, 09:15 AM   #12
MM
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Quote:
Daniel Nishina wrote:
Just to clarify, when I said "'modeling' and behavioral directives", I meant it in contrast to a person understanding first, then doing a behavior, which I see happens in Western cultures much more often. So there's "acting" the part first, then "growing into it" intrinsically, in contrast with understanding why and what one is supposed to do first, then doing it, possibly based only upon one's own interpretation or with external guidance.
I actually think both happens in aikido training. For example, rolling and ukemi. It is most often done "acting" first and then "understanding" comes later.

However, in some individual weapons kata, the kata are taught in a way that shows what the person is reacting to. The person is sort of given an image of why they are doing the moves through the kata. In that instance, their being taught the understanding of the kata and then doing it.

And, I think, that it depends on the school, the dojo, and the instructor on which one is used at which time, especially in the U.S.

Mark
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Old 04-21-2006, 11:52 AM   #13
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

[quote] But, a dojo environment is different. You have people coming in to actually learn something. They are, in some fashion, open to learning.
I hate to sound nitpicky, but there is a wide range of people's openness to learning, which interacts with individual dojo (& dojo culture) expectations and ongoing behaviors and ways of thinking. As I write this, I'm thinking of "average" or "majority" type people and "below average" people. I find that most people will settle on some baseline (whether it is with respect to practice hours, social interaction, "progress", etc.), which is established as an interaction of the above mentioned personal and dojo characteristics. And, as people who do any of various fitness programs, for example, will probably tell you, having others around and being "pushed" in some way helps. That is, they wouldn't do it, or do it as much, by themselves. So what ends up happening is a new aikido person who may initially join with a relatively wide range of potential acceptance will unconsciously grasp the norms of this new place, the dojo, and settle into it.
Before I go on, I should describe a specific situation which is part of my premise (i.e. the unideal situation). It is the norm to not go around instructing, telling, hinting, eye-ing, or otherwise insinuating to newer people to do things. The only "hint" is modeling by more senior people. Even then, it is not very widespread, and there are a few newer people who may be picking up on whatever little information is out there and join in. So I imagine the impression most newer people encounter is that everything is completely up to them, their choice. Since there is nothing to indicate otherwise i.e. no negative feedback, they come to feel "no pressure" is the norm. Of course, it seems reasonable to catch new people as early as possible in order to normalize a different set of sensibilities than the majority. But "combatting" the majority culture takes a lot of effort. People in numbers simply have their own momentum. (Let me reel myself in from rambling or digressing...)
You wrote: "The student is in a somewhat receptive manner. If not, that student typically doesn't stay long."
What if that type of student stays, and they are nonetheless getting something out of coming to the dojo? Perhaps a good workout, stress relief. Also (at the risk of broaching political incorrectness and cynicism) maybe they only think they are "getting" aikido because they are coming to practice and they are around i.e. associated with some high level people.
This has very much to do with the truthful, or accurate, self-knowledge with respect to one's practice - a topic I think I've seen floating around. For someone who actively, consciously confronts their own weakness and delusion, it may seem self-evident that there is always more to be sought, and furthermore that one must continually, mindfully examine oneself. However, for someone who is comfortable with "getting by", the effort and discomfort that are involved in confronting, or seeing the self may seem like some distant ideal. It is more self-evident to them that they are enjoying practice in some way, that they feel it makes their life good or better, and how dare anyone tell them that they're enjoying something that is less valid or not valid? For me, the defensive reaction we can often witness is a reflection of this perceived belittling or invalidating, and is indicative of ... something. I'm afraid I've continued to digress. My apologies.
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Old 04-21-2006, 12:44 PM   #14
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Quote:
Daniel Nishina wrote:
I hate to sound nitpicky, but there is a
Daniel,
Feel free to be as nitpicky as you want.

I'm getting pulled away but wanted a quick reply to let you know I'm going to reread your post and reply later. Hopefully later is tonight some time and not tomorrow.

Thanks,
Mark
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Old 04-22-2006, 07:35 AM   #15
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Quote:
Daniel Nishina wrote:
However, for someone who is comfortable with "getting by", the effort and discomfort that are involved in confronting, or seeing the self may seem like some distant ideal. It is more self-evident to them that they are enjoying practice in some way, that they feel it makes their life good or better, and how dare anyone tell them that they're enjoying something that is less valid or not valid? For me, the defensive reaction we can often witness is a reflection of this perceived belittling or invalidating, and is indicative of ... something. I'm afraid I've continued to digress. My apologies.
In my opinion, the defensive reaction from these "getting by" people would be because they really are not comfortable in their current mode of training. Otherwise, they wouldn't have any problems with what people said. They would understand that their practice makes their life good or better and be in harmony with that.

Just the opposite is true, too. If someone who is training "deeply" goes around to "getting by" people saying that their training is not valid, then this "deeply" person has issues with his/her own training in some aspect.

Again, these are just generalities and every instance is its own separate case. Things can be simpler or more complex and take a radical turn from the above.

Training is an individual issue. I know someone who says that their Aikido training is more like a hobby and they are completely fine with it, no matter what anyone says to them. Disregarding the specific level (getting by, hobby, deeply) one is on, who can honestly say that they are completely fine with their current mode of training? Think about that. There is a nice approach to being comfortable in one's level in training. One that I can't say I'm at. Otherwise, I wouldn't be attempting to make a lot of seminars, add more arts to my training, etc. Is either approach better? That's either beyond my mental calculations at this point, or I'm just too close to the subject.

Mark
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Old 04-24-2006, 11:10 AM   #16
da2el.ni4na
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Re: like beauty, the stupidity of a question

Mark,
Near the end of your last post I think you were getting at how the issue of inidividuals' "character of practice" and whether they're fine with it i.e. whether they're fine with what they're getting out of it, is not really measurable. I think the only thing that would be close to measurable is, am I dealing with my practice e.g. going only to regular class, going to seminars, going only to a particular teacher, etc. in a way that is actually working for me? I mention this because sometimes people get into the "more is better" thinking, or sometimes it's just pretty random and whimsical i.e. "I feel like doing weapons so I'll do weapons".
Anyway, I can't remember any specifics but it feels like a George Ledyard-y thought here to say if someone thinks of their aikido as valid, not only on a personal level e.g. it makes one's life more peaceful, more social, etc. but also on other levels e.g. one's aikido and personal results are clean and good enough to teach and/or be recognized by other members if the community, one's aikido can adapt to other, non-peer styles and arts, then it is more "out there" to be critiquable by others. I mean that, I can tell you I'm feeling happy inside and you can't prove or disprove that. However, if I tell you my life is happy, you can see whether I have nervous tics, lawsuits left and right, marital problems, etc. which would be indicative of "the truth". My saying "I'm happy" could be delusional to one degree or another. Likewise, my saying "I'm practicing aikido in a way the 'works' for me" could be viewed similarly. If I say "my aikido practice makes me harmonious/peaceful" and I still regress at every other person who cuts me off in traffic, then whether I want to admit it or not, I would have to live with the fact that I may not be as harmonious as I'd like to believe.
This potential disconnect with the reality of one's self, one's state, one's brashness, one's immaturity etc. I think connects back to the original article's topic about stupid questions. How to/when to break it to someone that they're evidently not the way they think they are. Or, if not breaking it to them, sitting back and watching them smack into reality. Or something in between.
It's necessary to have ears, in order to converse with someone. Not just to talk to them.
It's been a nice exchange Mark. What's the customary thing to do here in forums? Start throwing passive-aggressive insults at each other? (just joking)
Take care,
Dan
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