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Create a web based mechanism to discuss if we are asking the right questions about certain subjects. "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

There are many subjects where discussions get sidetracked and useful resolutions don't get discussed and implemented because the wrong questions are asked.

I would love to see some sort of web based mechanism created and used where people could raise a red flag when they saw subjects debated where the discussion had been diverted and the important facets of the subject were being ignored or missed.

A way to raise these red flags so they can serve as effective warnings that will be heeded by the press and humanity alike would help serve mankind.

For example, in electing candidates, how much time is wasted talking about things that have virtually nothing to do with the abilities of candidates to successfully carry out the duties of their offices? Instead of asking about and discussing things that are irrelevant, we would be better served by defining those skills that are important for a successful office holder to have. The press is particularly guilty of not asking the right questions but rather of wallowing in sensationalism and endless poll results reporting. "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

Another related misdirected type question could be do we mistake desiring to get the MOST people to vote in an election with trying to get the people who are BEST QUALIFIED to vote in an election. We often mistake quantity for quality. "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

I believe there are many subjects that are discussed in public and by the press that are not properly debated because people tend to follow the initial line of discussion and often don't look at issues with a fresh eye to make sure the right questions are asked.

How can you suggest such a mechanism could be created?

Perhaps a website called: "ARE WE ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTIONS?"

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    Aug 2 2012: There are lots of right questions. One reason conversations get side-tracked is that many people believe the issues most important to them never get discussed enough and so they take any reasonable opportunity to steer discussion in that direction.
    We have probably all gotten a little frustrated sometimes when we are trying to get a group to wrestle with an issue that has been under-examined that someone will jump in to steer the conversation over to some topic that is discussed all the time and on which there is a widely accepted position that people simply love to hear affirmed over and over. (It's often a cynical view about someone else:))
    In conversation in a community the best way of keeping conversations on track is to be aware of how easy it is to veer off and to accept as a ground rule that it isn't quite fair to divert legitimate discussion always to one's particular interests.
    But you mention another sort of asking the wrong question that is much more about insight than good ground rules for community. Specifically it is often not a trivial thing to step back and think through what the right questions are to ask.
    It takes consciencious critical thinking to do that, a disposition that is different from what drives the more common light banter about policy issues that arises often in public or in the press.
    • Aug 2 2012: Fritzie, I am right with you on your comments. It is unfortunate that much discussion is driven by the speaker's agenda. Yes, I am trying to help create environments and methods to guide discussions in ways to allow a re-centering on the base topic when the conversation's participants divert to non-centrist discussion threads.

      I agree that many, if not most, people tend to have their own favored position and they will often guide a discussion in a way to support that position. I don't mind having varied and even opposing viewpoints expressed. What I am trying to overcome is having those viewpoints be the only ones considered.

      I'm afraid that many people are not very capable of taking that step back you mentioned. It does take a person with intellectual integrity to be willing to "risk" going against the grain and approaching an ongoing conversation from a different angle. What I'm trying to figure out is a way to help facilitate this type of behavior.
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        Aug 2 2012: I work in that area as well, of facilitating discourse.
        I don't think it is accurate that people are not capable of stepping back. It is more about disposition to question in an open-minded way and perhaps training than it is about ability.
        • Aug 2 2012: That is interesting that you work in the area of facilitating discourse. I suspect that must be fascinating and at time frustrating work!

          I didn't mean to indicate that there weren't many people with the ability to take a re-framing action during a discussion but rather that there weren't as many as it would be nice to have that are willing then commit to doing so. Of course, there are a great number of people who really don't have the mental ability to re-focus their look at issues. Sadly, those people just need to pretty much be discounted and ignored.

          Having ulterior motives is probably one of the biggest roadblocks to people to be open to new and fresh perspectives. As your earlier post indicated, people will try to get their viewpoint affirmed. What should be considered most important in holding a discussion is to try to come up with the most beneficial viewpoint and possible solution to issues rather than trying to get one's particular viewpoint accepted. This is somewhat against human nature I suppose.

          How can we build discussion websites that actively encourage such openness and willingness to explore multiple viewpoints through asking questions that prompt better answers? Moderators can shut down flame wars but I'm looking for something to encourage more fruitful discussions.
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        Aug 2 2012: I do not agree with your statement "of course there are a great number of people who really don't have the mental ability to refocus their look at issues. Sadly those people just need to pretty much be discounted and ignored."

        I believe everyone without specific developmental impairment is capable of critical thinking and that none needs to be discounted or ignored.
        • Aug 2 2012: Hmmm, unfortunately I have to stand by my statement of belief in this matter. I have run across far too many people in my lifetime who just don't seem to have the ability to analyze situations rationally and come to reasonable conclusions. To me that is just a fact of life.

          Of course, I could be wrong! :-)

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