No, that title isn’t a trick. Set for the 28th of September, Ask a Stupid Question Day is a celebration built on our willingness to learn, and the tacit acceptance that we all ask stupid questions from time to time. For some of us, asking stupid questions comes naturally. For others, like those who wrote this article, stupid questions are much more difficult to manifest. Editors, please don’t correct us. So, where does this day come from, and how do we make the most of it?
Though the exact year and originator of the day remains unknown, ASQD appears to have begun in the 1980s in the American education system. Rather than a point of mockery, the day was used to encourage people to speak up and ask something they might have been too embarrassed to voice in the previous months.
In this way, the concept of the day wasn’t to deride but to give those who are less confident a safe way to address their lack of knowledge. Through this lens, we can better appreciate how much the day can bring. Of course, we all remember the quote often attributed to Mark Twain: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
As true as this idea can prove to be, it also contributes nothing to our greater understanding. To this end, we prefer a quote from a just as influential historical figure, Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise who said: “I respect an officer who is prepared to admit ignorance and ask a question, rather than one who, out of pride, will blunder blindly forward.”
Every one of us has some stupid questions at the back of our minds, but we need to remember that stupid questions don’t make us stupid. We all lack important information in some area or another, and we all tend to let this gap continue rather than face the holes in our knowledge. Remember what Captain Picard said, however, and we can use ASQD to better ourselves.
Ask the things at work that have concerned you for years, like the little rules that you accept and follow without knowing the reasoning for. Maybe you have concerns about the rules, or have seen a major flaw, but are afraid of calling it out because you might have overlooked something. In any case, ASQD is here to help.
You could also try it with your loved ones, for things you’re not quite sure about, or concepts that you used to understand but which faded over time. September 28th is the day to put down your elitist monocle and adopt a more absorbent attitude.
One last thing to note is that, for your sake, you might want to let your workmates, relatives, and friends know about ASQD before you begin. This way you can all work together, and who knows, they might have similarly stupid questions you didn’t consider. Most of all, if you spend an entire day asking the people close to you stupid questions without the context of ASQD, you might find you’re looked at oddly for the next few weeks.