Key of Wisdom

Posted on March 15, 2009 by


I apologize for the pretentious title of this post. It implies that I’ve discovered some deep secret to discovering hidden truths, when, in fact, I’m just talking about a little conversational technique I’ve found useful in making sense of the world. I’ve never heard it addressed anywhere else, so I’ll share it here: Ask questions you already know the answers to.

Asking this way turns questions around. Normally you ask about something you don’t know, and when you get an answer, you know something. This way you go from unsureness to sureness. When you ask about something you already understand, often the answer will not comport with what you already knew, so you go from sureness back to unsureness. And that will likely move you forward to learn more than you would have had you never questioned the knowledge you started with.

[Edit: Hey, I just noticed that “question” and “quest” sound similar. A quick trip over to my favorite etymology site,, tells me that both come from the Latin quærere, meaning to “seek, gain, ask”. I like the imagery of the word “quest”, and I think it applies well to the topic above.]

Posted in: Musings