Asking questions is what distinguishes humans from primates. Even before children can speak, they start asking questions. The nature of the questions changes with age. Initially, the questions are in the form of “What is that?” then change to “Why does that man do that?” to “How does that work?” to “Why is the sky blue?” to the ideas of “What if…?” In fact, children between the ages of two and four ask 40,000 questions.
Only not all questions are good questions at the same time. “Why hasn’t this been done before?”, “Who is doing this?”, “By when can we expect it?”, “Am I the only one who is worried about this?” are questions that look for culprits. They are interogative like cross-examination. One of the dumbest variations is a question of the type “What is our version of an iPad?”.
Albert Einstein asked himself a question that created an entire scientific discipline. “What would the world look like to me if I were riding a beam of light?” The result was the theory of relativity with the well-known formula E = mc2.
This question is a great example of what characteristics a good question should have:
- It is not primarily about a correct answer.
- It cannot be answered immediately.
- It questions existing answers.
- It makes you want to hear the answer as soon as it is asked, without being aware of it beforehand.
- It creates a new space for thinking.
- It restructures one’s own answers.
- It is the crystallization point for innovation in science, technology, art, politics and business.
- It is an exploratory, a what-if scenario.
- It moves at the crossroads of the known and the unknown, neither crazy nor obvious.
- It cannot be predicted.
- It is the sign of an educated mind.
- Many new good questions come out of it.
- Is probably the last task a machine will ever learn.
- Is something for which humans were created.
What questions do I ask myself like this? More about this in the following video: