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mattbrowne's avatar

Aristotle once said that in order to succeed we must ask the right questions - Is this one reason why Fluther became so popular?

Asked by mattbrowne (31563points) May 20th, 2009

Some people see a direct link between the ability to apply critical thinking and the ability to ask the right questions. Do you agree with this view?

From Wikipedia: Critical thinking is purposeful and reflective judgment about what to believe or what to do in response to observations, experience, verbal or written expressions, or arguments. Critical thinking employs not only logic but broad intellectual criteria such as clarity, credibility, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance and fairness. Critical thinking is crucial to becoming a close reader and a substantive writer. Expressed most generally, critical thinking is ‘a way of taking up the problems of life.’ Irrespective of the sphere of thought, a well cultivated critical thinker:

* raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely;
* gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret it effectively
* comes to well-reasoned conclusions and solutions, testing them against relevant criteria and standards;
* thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing and assessing, as need be, their assumptions, implications, and practical consequences; and
* communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems; without being unduly influenced by others thinking on the topic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_thinking

Have Fluther and other Q&A websites become so popular because they offer a way to develop the skill of asking vital questions (‘the right questions’)?

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10 Answers

Fyrius's avatar

That would be great. That would mean people on the internet are getting more interested in becoming better critical thinkers.

I wouldn’t look for the reason in a deliberate, foresightful decision to become better at asking questions, though. Websites (and products in general) tend to become popular not because they help people develop in the long run but because they satisfy a need.
A need for a place to discuss random things one wonders about, in this case, I surmise.

augustlan's avatar

To me (a fairly critical thinker), Fluther fulfills the need for a place to discuss things with the right people. Intelligent, insightful people who care about the big (right?) questions aren’t that easy to come by in everyday life. For instance, of all the people I know in my ‘real’ life, there is only one that I can even imagine having such discussions with.
Happily for me, he is my husband. :)
Even happier, my children are getting there, too!

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

“Critical thinking” and “asking the right questions” are two things that are inextricably linked. The right questions focus your thinking and put it on the right path toward an answer.

hearkat's avatar

When it comes to personal issues, what is the ‘right’ question for one person may be the ‘wrong’ question for another. We all learn, grow and think differently. You never know what it is that will finally make a point really resonate within a person’s psyche. So the appeal of fairly anonymous Q&A sites is to find someone who can relate to your question and respond likewise.

On broader societal topics, having a place for open discourse is nice for developing greater understanding of the issues from different perspectives. But will it provide the ‘right’ answers that serve as a catalyst of change for the better for society? That would be extremely difficult to say, because it would take quite an extensive ripple-effect for noticeable change to occur.

spresto's avatar

That is the failing flaw of the fluther. The right question are obviously never asked.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

@spresto Aye, there’s the rub. However, the balance is that the effective critical thinking process for one person isn’t the same as the next. One’s wrong question is someone else’s right question. One man’s trash another man’s treasure.

Though I do agree, some of the questions hold no value whatsoever.. to anyone. xD

wundayatta's avatar

I believe that asking the right questions is a crucial activity. But I’m biased. It’s my job to help researchers ask the right questions. They come to me wondering how to collect data, or find data, or analyze data, and I ask them what they are looking for, and half the time this is a head-scratcher for them. Even when they do have a research question in mind, it’s in a rather diffuse form. So I help them focus it, and this allows them to do their research.

I have found that asking questions is often helpful in an argument. Half the time people don’t know what they are arguing about because they haven’t discovered they mean completely different things when they use the same word. Or they haven’t found out the history of how a person got to that opinion. I’ve found that stories are crucial to understanding, but hardly anyone seems to ask for stories.

Of course, these things are all related to my interests, which is in understanding. I don’t know what critical thinking is. I mean, I see that definition in the question, and it all is good, but it doesn’t, in my mind, link up with the word “critical.” To me, critical thinking is about taking things apart instead of building them up. I don’t believe you need good questions to take things apart. You just get in there with your wrecking ball and start knocking things down. You don’t need to know what you’re looking for, or even need to be looking for anything.

To put things together, though, you need good questions. You need to understand relationships. You always start with a survey of what kinds of relationships are out there. Then you categorize those relationships. Then you count how prevalent they are. Then you can build a model that describes and predicts those relationships.

As to fluther’s popularity—by what standard do you consider fluther to be popular? I would not say it is a well-populated website. I think it has a core of regular users, and a bunch of quick-hitters, but this is an extremely small portion of the overall traffic on the internet. It doesn’t seem to be enough to generate a lot of advertising.

mattbrowne's avatar

@spresto – Would you be so kind and ask the first right fluther question?

mattbrowne's avatar

@daloon – Popularity is relative of course. A standard is difficult to find. Perhaps one criterion is having a viable business model.

ubersiren's avatar

Yes. In fact, I heard or read somewhere that “intellegence” can be measured by a person’s ability to try a second option after the first one fails (like in Jurassic Park how the velociraptors tested the fences for weaknesses) as opposed to trying the same method again and again with the same failed result. So, if you don’t ask the right question the first time, you can always alter the question, and will eventually adapt to more effective question asking.

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