“There are no stupid questions” is a lie

Refused to break wind question

If you’re (bizarrely) thinking about taking career advice from a source outside Benign to Five, I have some advice for you: beware of pleasant people. Having been a pleasant person once – before I became a vicious curmudgeon and a hateful bigot, that is – I know pleasant people, and pleasant people say things like “it was meant to be” and “there are no stupid questions”.

Now I don’t go in for this “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” malarkey. But I know when I hear nonsense, and those two particular assertions, my dear Haughtologists, are just that. In fact, I would go a step further and say they are outright lies. In fact, I would go a step further again and say it in capitals: THEY ARE OUTRIGHT LIES.

(Now I feel as if I might have gone too far. I wish I knew how to delete stuff on this thing.)

“It was meant to be” implies that everything is predetermined, including the time I walked into the storeroom at Burwood Smorgy’s and found the manager wearing only a felt sock puppet and dancing a passionate samba with a 45 kilogram bag of desiree potatoes. If this was written into fate at the beginning of time, then the Predeterminer must have one hell of an imagination, making banal cruelties like famine and brain cancer outrageously mean-spirited and the whole idea of predetermination ludicrous.

But that’s entirely tolerable in comparison to the generalisation that “there are no stupid questions”.

Yes there are stupid questions. Trillions of them. There are hundreds of thousands of websites, blog posts and top ten videos dedicated to them – this will be yet another one.

Consider these:

“What learnings did you takeout from the strategic interface?”

“What do you think about the name Buckwheat for a girl?”

“What do you think about the name Tippy Tippy Goitredick for a boy?”

“Would I have an orgasm if I slam dunked my own testicular bag in front of a sellout crowd at Rod Laver Arena?”

And these immortals from the grand arena of idiotic questions, Yahoo Answers:

Mother question


Pizza up the bum question


And by far my personal favourite:

Well, der:


There are stupid questions and those who ask them aren’t “brave” or “doing everyone a favour”. They’re immutable dunces in the eyes of everyone who has witnessed their buffoonery, no matter what the pleasant people say.


An edited version of this article first appeared in the MyCareer section of The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

You can read the column – Benign to Five – in those papers every Saturday, and if you miss it, you can look it up online in the BusinessDay section of The Age, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Canberra Times, WAToday and Brisbane Times. (I now wankishly call myself a “syndicated columnist” on my CV.)

Read more Haught newspaper columns


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