David Wees

Mathematics Teacher, Stratford Hall

This conversation is closed.

Why are so many of the answers to questions here "pseudo-answers"?

I've noticed that in practically every conversation that is started here, they are people who respond who really know nothing about what is being discussed, but feel the need to add to the conversation. I see many short responses or attempts at intelligent dialog but which fall short of being actually productive or useful to genuine discussion.

My question is, why does this happen? Is it inherent to human nature to feel the need to answer questions, even when one cannot?

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    Mar 27 2011: Sounds to me like your giving a pseudo-answer to a pseudo-question David.

    Why not try to engage and see if you can find a real answer via a real experience?
  • Mar 25 2011: I have found people who know nothing about an issue often contribute nothing, and often contribute something of value from a perspective not apparent to those who do know something about an issue. It’s hard to know which is which. One of the hallmarks of an truly original idea, is that it seems completely nonsensical, counterintuitive and useless. It helps to have some people who see the forest, some people who see the trees, and some people outside of the forest who can see both.

    Is this an answer or psudo-answer?
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    Mar 27 2011: David, I think it depends on what you mean by pseudo-answer. It is true that you might find some answers of no value whatsoever, of people who don't put any kind of thought in what they type and answer with one-line frases or even just two or three words.
    But this is not what I see most in TED. Actually, what I find so exciting about TED is that it makes everyone think, investigate, put some thought into their answers. It's probably the only place in the web where us laymen have the unique opportunity to discuss profound topics with remarkable people from all fields of knowledge. Some people are just trying hard to add something of value into a conversation, of course not always succeeding.
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    Mar 24 2011: David, it's like in real life conversations. If you have a thought you might talk it over with your friends, spouse, mates at work, etc.
    You are not always going and find an expert to answer your question.
    Take your question here for example: what kind of people would you like answering you ? Perhaps psychologists ?
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    Mar 28 2011: People have strong opinions which they often feel compelled to share, even when they are not very well versed on whatever the subject happens to be. Different people do this for different reasons: some crave attention, or simply want to be sociable; others are genuinely trying to contribute to the discussion or learn more about it, etc. It's not something that particularly frustrates me; I only become annoyed when someone who is clearly ignorant act as if they are an authority on the subject in question.
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    jag .

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    Mar 25 2011: PRIDE

    Some people maybe bored so they will answer

    Some people will just want to take part in a conversation.

    PRIDE lol :P
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    Mar 25 2011: Ahh, good question David. The answer is actually quite simple if you thing about it correctly. Many questions that are asked in these TED Conversations are questions that do not have a direct answer that one person can answer on their own. The point of having a forum that many can communcate through is to have many different views and answers that can be added up in attempt to give the questionee a well-rounded "answer" that he/she can understand. Like Tim Blackburn stated earlier, why would we be on TED if we wanted a direct definitive answer.
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    Mar 25 2011: if the question had a deffinitve answere, why not just google it?
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    Mar 24 2011: Hello David,

    I would be more worried if only 'professionals' were involved in these conversations. The fact that some answers seem to miss the point shows that the threshold is low, which I see as a good thing. On the other hand, the amount of so-called "pseudo-answers" does not strike me as particularly high. Last but not least, it's quite easy to simply skip the input you do not like and to focus instead on the replies you find interesting. I usually find more than enough of those in TED Conversations.
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    Mar 27 2011: Am I too stupid to comment on a thread ? And there are many times that I learn a lot by reading other peoples' comments.
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    Mar 26 2011: To respond to this question would be to prove your thesis. QED.

    Seriously though, what is engendered on any conversation site is opinion. Very rarely will there be a person who can provide the ultimate answer to the question you have asked, especially in the short time frames offered. I see TED as a catalyst for discussion; a starting point on the way to an answer. And yes, I do feel the need to answer questions even when I can not: we call that the "spirit of discovery" and it's what got us beyond smashing stones together.
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    Mar 25 2011: Well to answer your question I think it would necessitate a further examination of the particular issue at hand that you seem to have been pondering.

    Does that answer your question? LOL
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    Mar 24 2011: there is no simple cause or simple truth in anything. there are no reasons without deeper reasons, and layers of even deeper reasons beneath them. it is easy to get lost. one needs a sharp analytical sense to see through this multi-layered network of causal connections.

    when you contribute to a discussion, how do you know that your take on it is actually deep? if it was shallow, would you know it? maybe those who contributed something you deem worthless were thinking they are contributing something valuable? maybe they are just not that skilled in analytical thinking as you are.

    but the ladder goes in both directions, isn't it? what if there is someone who facepalms reading your comments, as you stopped halfway on the road to the final truth? (purely theoretical question.)