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Old 03-26-2017, 06:24 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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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?
  #2  
Old 03-26-2017, 06:33 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Nexialist?
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Old 03-26-2017, 06:41 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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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.

Last edited by HoneyBadgerDC; 03-26-2017 at 06:42 PM.
  #4  
Old 03-26-2017, 06:44 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethilrist View Post
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/
  #5  
Old 03-26-2017, 06:47 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Autistic?



  #6  
Old 03-26-2017, 07:29 PM
bibliophage bibliophage is online now
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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
  #7  
Old 03-26-2017, 08:48 PM
mixdenny mixdenny is offline
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Some form of an observationalist, perhaps a naive observationalist?

Denni
  #8  
Old 03-26-2017, 08:54 PM
igor frankensteen igor frankensteen is offline
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perspicacious.
  #9  
Old 03-26-2017, 09:01 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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Originally Posted by Ambivalid View Post
Autistic?



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.
  #10  
Old 03-26-2017, 09:04 PM
HoneyBadgerDC HoneyBadgerDC is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hibernicus View Post
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!
  #11  
Old 03-27-2017, 12:45 AM
Lasciel Lasciel is offline
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Pedantic? But I feel like that one is often used negatively.
  #12  
Old 03-27-2017, 03:05 AM
Novelty Bobble Novelty Bobble is offline
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It may not fit perfectly but I'd probably use "incisive"
  #13  
Old 03-27-2017, 04:09 PM
Si Amigo Si Amigo is offline
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Insightful.
  #14  
Old 03-27-2017, 06:09 PM
hibernicus hibernicus is offline
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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.
  #15  
Old 03-27-2017, 07:38 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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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!
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Old 03-27-2017, 08:19 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
I do not believe autistic fits it at all.
It wasn't a serious suggestion.
  #17  
Old 03-27-2017, 08:48 PM
DSeid DSeid is offline
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Originally Posted by Ambivalid View Post
It wasn't a serious suggestion.
Maybe not to you but I think at least HoneyBadgerDC thought so.
  #18  
Old 03-27-2017, 09:45 PM
Ambivalid Ambivalid is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSeid View Post
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.
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Old 03-28-2017, 08:54 AM
Ken001 Ken001 is offline
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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.
  #20  
Old 03-28-2017, 09:58 AM
PatrickLondon PatrickLondon is online now
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"Smartarse" would work for me.
  #21  
Old 03-28-2017, 12:37 PM
harmonicamoon harmonicamoon is offline
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Genius, as in thinking outside the box.
  #22  
Old 03-28-2017, 01:14 PM
brainstall brainstall is offline
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Ingenuous?
  #23  
Old 03-29-2017, 04:07 PM
furryman furryman is offline
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Meta?
  #24  
Old 03-29-2017, 04:09 PM
Dead Cat Dead Cat is offline
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"Awkward" is how I like to describe myself when exhibiting this characteristic.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ambivalid View Post
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.

  #25  
Old 03-30-2017, 01:44 PM
Corner Case Corner Case is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hibernicus View Post
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
  #26  
Old 03-30-2017, 02:31 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Pain-in-the-ass?
We've all had those guys in our class that wouldn't shut up and asked the stupidest questions.
  #27  
Old 03-30-2017, 10:20 PM
x-ray vision x-ray vision is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HoneyBadgerDC View Post
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
  #28  
Old 04-01-2017, 01:29 PM
Haldurson Haldurson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hibernicus View Post
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.
  #29  
Old 04-01-2017, 01:41 PM
Haldurson Haldurson is offline
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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?".
  #30  
Old 04-01-2017, 01:58 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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Doper?
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