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-   -   Word for someone who asks questions that wouldn't occur to most people (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=822538)

hibernicus 03-26-2017 06:24 PM

Word for someone who asks questions that wouldn't occur to most people
 
I came across (and forgot) a word that can be used to describe someone who makes observations about the world or asks seemingly simple questions that wouldn't occur to most of us because they relate to things that we take for granted.

I am not looking for a word that implies that the person is stupid or naive; possibly the contrary. While it is true that asking such questions can annoy other people (for example, if someone says "why are children so noisy?" it may be interpreted as a complaint or criticism rather than a neutral question about the world), the word I am thinking of does not carry such negative connotation.

I'm pretty sure the word is similar in form to the word "positivist" - that is to say it is not "positivist" but it does end in "-ist", and has a technical feel like a term from philosophy. I'm pretty sure also that it is NOT derived from a proper name, like "Socratic".

Anyone have any ideas?

Ethilrist 03-26-2017 06:33 PM

Nexialist?

HoneyBadgerDC 03-26-2017 06:41 PM

Inquisitive understates what you are asking I suspect. The right word would describe me. I maybe ask 1/100th of the questions that occur to me. I have been like that since I was a kid. Every few minutes something will occur to me that I would like to ask. I have gone to great pains to repress this just to seem normal and fit in better. It might be an opportunity to coin a word if no one comes up with anything good.

hibernicus 03-26-2017 06:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ethilrist (Post 20094752)
Nexialist?

Not that. I had to look it up:
"One skilled in the science of joining together in an orderly fashion the knowledge of one field of learning with that of other fields"

from http://www.nexialism.info/

Ambivalid 03-26-2017 06:47 PM

Autistic?



:D

bibliophage 03-26-2017 07:29 PM

iconoclast - one who attacks or questions cherished beliefs and assumptions

Socratic irony - the asking of seemingly naive questions whose answers are likely to subvert the argument of one's opponent

mixdenny 03-26-2017 08:48 PM

Some form of an observationalist, perhaps a naive observationalist?

Denni

igor frankensteen 03-26-2017 08:54 PM

perspicacious.

HoneyBadgerDC 03-26-2017 09:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambivalid (Post 20094778)
Autistic?



:D

I actually think you may have hit it. Not sure if you were joking or not. It has only been the last few years that I have started to familiarize myself with autism. I am starting to strongly suspect I have a mild form of it. As a small child a taught myself to read by reading statistics from encyclopedias. I knew all the raw materials, main exports, tourist attractions, GPD.s population, agricultural, native animals etc. Of every country on the globe by the time I was about 9. Nothing on their politics except communist or not.

I remain obsessed with numbers and finding ways to use numbers to reflect various social premises I am equally obsessed with.

Outwardly I lead a pretty normal life and have always been active socially even when I felt I was faking it.

HoneyBadgerDC 03-26-2017 09:04 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hibernicus (Post 20094732)
I came across (and forgot) a word that can be used to describe someone who makes observations about the world or asks seemingly simple questions that wouldn't occur to most of us because they relate to things that we take for granted.

I am not looking for a word that implies that the person is stupid or naive; possibly the contrary. While it is true that asking such questions can annoy other people (for example, if someone says "why are children so noisy?" it may be interpreted as a complaint or criticism rather than a neutral question about the world), the word I am thinking of does not carry such negative connotation.

I'm pretty sure the word is similar in form to the word "positivist" - that is to say it is not "positivist" but it does end in "-ist", and has a technical feel like a term from philosophy. I'm pretty sure also that it is NOT derived from a proper name, like "Socratic".

Anyone have any ideas?

I looked up your posting history, I think you ask great questions!

Lasciel 03-27-2017 12:45 AM

Pedantic? But I feel like that one is often used negatively.

Novelty Bobble 03-27-2017 03:05 AM

It may not fit perfectly but I'd probably use "incisive"

Si Amigo 03-27-2017 04:09 PM

Insightful.

hibernicus 03-27-2017 06:09 PM

I think the word I was thinking of may have been "factualist", which doesn't correspond at all well to the description in my OP, so I owe you all an apology for wasting your time.

I really appreciate the excellent suggestions, all of which shed light on the phenomenon. The idea that this is an autistic trait is especially interesting.

DSeid 03-27-2017 07:38 PM

I have been reading with interest hoping that someone would come up with the word that fits it well and am sad that none of us can do better than we have. I do not believe autistic fits it at all.

To my read it is describing a fresh unbiased look, uninfluenced by previous interpretations and uninfluenced by the "it is known that"s. The reason the boy was able to call out that the Emperor's new clothes were no clothes at all and what occurs when there is a paradigm shift in science reinterpreting the same raw data into a completely different pattern and why sometimes someone from outside a field, or a student, can ask the "stupid question" that the expert struggles to answer only eventually realizing that actually answering it forces accepting what they actually themselves only thought they had understood and was firmly established. It underlies the Socratic method but "Socratic" and "Socratic irony" are not it as those do not capture the fresh-eyed curiosity.

That "naive observationalist" comes closest, capturing the essentiality of the concept that it is observing something with intelligence from a perspective completely naive of how others have interpreted it before and therefore coming up with fresh questions, but there has to be something better.

"Lateral thinking" captures the "outside the box" aspect of it, the viewing things that everyone has viewed from one angle from a fresh and different perspective and seeing something else.

It certainly is not "factualist" or "empirical".

Dang, I'd love a good single word for the concept!

Ambivalid 03-27-2017 08:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DSeid (Post 20097132)
I do not believe autistic fits it at all.

It wasn't a serious suggestion. :)

DSeid 03-27-2017 08:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambivalid (Post 20097215)
It wasn't a serious suggestion. :)

Maybe not to you but I think at least HoneyBadgerDC thought so.

Ambivalid 03-27-2017 09:45 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by DSeid (Post 20097274)
Maybe not to you but I think at least HoneyBadgerDC thought so.

I included a grinning emoji, so it's not as if I didn't make it clear.

Ken001 03-28-2017 08:54 AM

My immediate response is that you meant an 'original thinker". Someone who asks original and novel questions. A person who comes up with ideas nobody has considered.

But possibly not if factualist does the job.

My daughter is an original thinker and has displayed it from age 4. It is a rare ability and I only have one friend with it.

PatrickLondon 03-28-2017 09:58 AM

"Smartarse" would work for me.

harmonicamoon 03-28-2017 12:37 PM

Genius, as in thinking outside the box.

brainstall 03-28-2017 01:14 PM

Ingenuous?

furryman 03-29-2017 04:07 PM

Meta?

Dead Cat 03-29-2017 04:09 PM

"Awkward" is how I like to describe myself when exhibiting this characteristic.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ambivalid (Post 20097388)
I included a grinning emoji, so it's not as if I didn't make it clear.

Maybe, but many autistic people aren't good at reading facial expressions.

:)

Corner Case 03-30-2017 01:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hibernicus (Post 20094732)
a word that can be used to describe someone who makes observations about the world or asks seemingly simple questions that wouldn't occur to most of us

Well, whoever comes up with the word will have demonstrated the word in the coming-upedness of it, and will cause a paradigm shift, because we will all then know a word for that concept.

I submit insightful, perspicacious, sagacious, astute, or profound

md2000 03-30-2017 02:31 PM

Pain-in-the-ass?
We've all had those guys in our class that wouldn't shut up and asked the stupidest questions.

x-ray vision 03-30-2017 10:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC (Post 20095029)
I looked up your posting history, I think you ask great questions!

So you would call him a....?




Maybe a reverse dictionary can help?:

http://www.onelook.com/reverse-dictionary.shtml

Haldurson 04-01-2017 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by hibernicus (Post 20094732)
I came across (and forgot) a word that can be used to describe someone who makes observations about the world or asks seemingly simple questions that wouldn't occur to most of us because they relate to things that we take for granted.

Comics that do that are called 'observational' -- as soon as I read your post, Jerry Seinfeld was the name that popped into my head.

Haldurson 04-01-2017 01:41 PM

Other kinds of people that might ask such questions are skeptics. One oft-repeated tenet of skepticism is that you should question everything, and don't take anything for granted, including your own most cherished beliefs. It's more of asking "I or other people believe this, but Is this really true?".

Hari Seldon 04-01-2017 01:58 PM

Doper?


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