Saturday, April 23, 2016

Self-serving questions

In a recent interview on CBC Radio One, Anna Maria Tremonte, asked why the interviewee's
opponents acted in the they did. I informed my favourite interviewer that such questions invite self- serving answers, and it did -- "I simply cannot understand why they would do that" or some such biased reply was the result. The proper answer is, "Ask them."

Similarly, hypothetical questions tempt self-serving answers. On April 19, the Canadian government avoided the issue all together. Globe and Mail journalists reported that Chrystia Freeland, "would not say whether she would have sold the weaponized armoured vehicles to the Saudis were it in her decision in 2014" (when the deal was originally approved by the previous government).

The Minister of International Trade wisely replied, "It's important not to engage ... in hypotheticals ... not to engage in what-might-have-beens."

A third type of question to be shunned is the negative interrogatory. As the question contains the sought-for answer, it is self-serving of the questioner.  Examples:  Do you not think the Toronto Maple Leafs should quit hockey?  Don't you want this job? You really don't want to do this, do you? 

You do agree with me, don't you?

No comments: