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-   -   What are the dumbest questions you've been asked more than once? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=881562)

elfkin477 09-05-2019 09:47 PM

What are the dumbest questions you've been asked more than once?
 
The fact that some employees were confused about Easter in this thread got me to thinking about stupid questions. Not stupid questions once person asked you once, but stupid questions you've unbelievably been asked by multiple people.

Over the years I've had conversations with people where the topic of being born on holidays has come up. My best friend was born on Christmas, and Dad and I were both born on Easter. Most people think that's kind of neat. Two different people, years apart and both college educated, have asked if that means my birth date is different every year. :confused:

My response both times was to just stare at them and say of course not. If it happens again I'm going to tell them to leave me alone and go bother someone who was born on Thanksgiving or Mother's day.

So...what's the dumbest thing you've been asked at least twice?

Kimstu 09-05-2019 09:52 PM

Heh. I teach math. I can't count the number of shockingly irrational or obviously senseless questions (I don't call them "dumb questions" as a matter of professional principle, but I think they fit your criteria) that I get asked on the regular.

markn+ 09-05-2019 09:53 PM

Born on Easter? That is pretty cool. But don't you get tired of having your birthday on a Sunday every year?

;)

Kent Clark 09-05-2019 10:09 PM

"What kind of name is that? Jewish?"

Actually, that's a question that's been frequently asked not of of me, but also of many of my friends whose families happened to have originated anywhere east of Prussia.

Beckdawrek 09-05-2019 10:15 PM

"Are you an Albino?" At least once a week someone asks me that. A bunch of medical professional have asked me. I'm pale and blond. I do not have pink eyes. One of my blue eyes looks purple sometimes.

rsat3acr 09-05-2019 10:30 PM

"Are you sure?" when I tell them at the grocery store please don't bag the milk or any other handled large liquid container like OJ or laundry detergent. Of course I'm sure, that is why I said it.

Little Nemo 09-05-2019 10:53 PM

I worked in a prison that had three floors. We rotated the order that the floors went to meals.

Day 1: the order was 1, 2, 3
Day 2: the order was 2, 3, 1
Day 3: the order was 3, 1, 2

Then repeat. It was a three-day cycle that always followed that pattern. I'm sure most of you could memorize it in the time it would take you to read this sentence. It was so simple I could take a couple days off from work and come back and still know what today's order was. It's so simple I can remember the system and I worked there in 1982.

But at least once a week, I would have a prisoner ask me what order they would be going that day. And I worked on the afternoon shift, so there would have already been two meals served that day by the time they asked me.

pabstist 09-05-2019 11:23 PM

I had my vocal chords removed. People always ask me if they'll grow back or if I'll ever be able to talk again. Yes, because I'm a fucking magical lizard that can regenerate body parts. Just like all those war vets who grew back their legs or arms. I mean, I don't understand how people can be soooooo stupid.

ASL v2.0 09-06-2019 12:21 AM

Are you X because you’re smart?

Has got to be one of the stupidest questions ever. Not "why are you X?" or, "why do you think people should be X?" but just plain old "Are you X because you’re smart?" Stupid.

Sicks Ate 09-06-2019 12:29 AM

Hmmm, so many choices. But I'm just going to go with "Did you play basketball?"

It just occurred to me that nobody has asked me how the weather up here is for quite some time. Not sure if it's because the joke is out of style, or people only feel empowered to ask that of a teenager.

kopek 09-06-2019 12:38 AM

My brother and I were born on the same day 11 years and a few minutes apart. We have both been asked, serious and straight-faced, if we are twins enough times that we have both actually started telling people ------ "we're identical twins born 11 years apart".

nightshadea 09-06-2019 12:47 AM

I worked for a lady that set up one of the first used videogame stores in so cal in the early 90s ... but she ran it out of her home at first and then later we moved to a swap meet ...

Now she was a sort of engineer before she developed rheumatoid arthritis she designed circuit boards and chips for Lockheed for 20 years So fixing a Nintendo or any other console (she was actually getting certified by sony to get the tools for fixing ps2's when she passed on) was a piece of cake .... she even designed her own tools for doing so so she took pride that everything worked and even offered a guarantee


Yet every weekend some jackass would come and ask "do they work?" and shed get pissed off and say look you found me through my ads in the papers right ? would i go through all that to sell you junk?


Well I figured out why some people asked that .... see there was a "yard sale" section of the swap meet where people would empty a closet toss it on a blanket and sell their junk..... and sometimes it would be their video games that didn't work and they knew it ......... so yeah there was some shadiness going on

But then wed get complained at that they got ripped off ... And my boss would say in the sweetest way " well dear you were paying 5 bucks for a 40 dollar game .... did it occur to you something might be well off about it .... "well its a swap meet things are supposed to be cheap like that "


So shed make a deal to buy the game for what they paid for it ...... About 30 percent it was a loss because you could tell some kid spilled something on it (one actually had dried milk in an NES cartridge ..youd have to soak it to get that effect) .. but sometimes it was just no one bought a cleaning kit for it and shed take 5 minutes and clean it and it would work fine ....

Nava 09-06-2019 05:57 AM

It used to be the stupidest question I'd been asked, but now I can say I've been asked it more than twice.

At the end of a lengthy conversation in English, "do you speak English?" No, hon, for the last half-hour we've been conversing in Quenya...

ftg 09-06-2019 07:53 AM

When I was a prof in Computer Science I got some really dumb questions. People would even come up to me during tests to asks for clarification. The one that sticks out the most:

"Is zero an even number?"

(The question would be to solve a problem for all such-and-such of even length or something.)

This is for 3rd and 4th year Computer Science majors. You know, the field with binary numbers. Where the test of an integer being even is incredibly freaking simple.

Once after this happened, I asked FtGKid1 if zero was an even number. He said "Yes." I asked "Why?" "Because one is odd." He was four at the time and college students didn't get this.

I told my fellow profs about this so some started putting questions like this on tests because they didn't believe it. And got the some question.

Thudlow Boink 09-06-2019 08:15 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ftg (Post 21844214)
When I was a prof in Computer Science I got some really dumb questions. People would even come up to me during tests to asks for clarification. The one that sticks out the most:

"Is zero an even number?"

In their defense: all positive integers are either prime or composite—except 1, which is a special case, considered neither prime nor composite. So I suppose they could have been thinking, all integers are either even or odd, except, could 0 be a special case?

glee 09-06-2019 09:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elfkin477 (Post 21843780)
and Dad and I were both born on Easter. Most people think that's kind of neat. Two different people, years apart and both college educated, have asked if that means my birth date is different every year. :confused:

My response both times was to just stare at them and say of course not. If it happens again I'm going to tell them to leave me alone and go bother someone who was born on Thanksgiving or Mother's day.

I'm sorry you get irritated by that question.

I don't know whether you think it's obvious your birthday differs or not. (I'm guessing you think it is.)
In any case some 'named' days are fixed - and some aren't.

Here's a list of 'named' birthdays:

Christmas Day - Dec 25
St. George's Day - Apr 23
New Year's Day - Jan 1

Easter - any Sunday between March 22 and April 25
Thanksgiving - any Thursday between Nov 22 and Nov 28
Mother's Day - any Sunday between May 8 and May 14

glee 09-06-2019 09:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pabstist (Post 21843944)
I had my vocal chords removed. People always ask me if they'll grow back or if I'll ever be able to talk again. Yes, because I'm a fucking magical lizard that can regenerate body parts. Just like all those war vets who grew back their legs or arms. I mean, I don't understand how people can be soooooo stupid.

I'm sorry you had that happen to you.

I think that people may be upset for you when they hear the news and are thus not thinking clearly.
They may be confused between body parts that don't regenerate and those that do (liver, fingertips, broken bones, toenails etc.)

kitap 09-06-2019 09:22 AM

"Do you need your glasses to see?". They are thick coke bottle lenses. They are bifocals. I'm going with yes.

KneadToKnow 09-06-2019 09:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink (Post 21844245)
In their defense: all positive integers are either prime or composite—except 1, which is a special case, considered neither prime nor composite. So I suppose they could have been thinking, all integers are either even or odd, except, could 0 be a special case?

Having, certainly, a less nuanced understanding of math than the people taking the course, my layman's defintion of "even number" would be one that is divisible by 2 with no remainder, so I also would be wondering of 0 was a special case.


To the OP, I don't have any questions per se that stick out in my memory, but I have on two separate occasions had mothers decide that the best way to manage getting both their library books and their infant children from the car into the library was to bring the infant in, wordlessly place it in its carrier thingy on the desk in front of me, then attempt to leave the building to park their car and return with their books.

Note "attempt to leave." On both occasions, I corrected their misapprehension that I was interested in being left in charge of their spawn and volunteered to come out to their car to get their books.

I've told this story so many times to friends that "You can't leave that here" is an actual catch phrase in my circle.

kayaker 09-06-2019 09:47 AM

Fifteenish years ago, Michael Jackson was still alive and my vitiligo kicked in. The backs on my hands were white.

Three different times people saw my hands and asked me if I had that disease that Michael Jackson had. Each time I answered, angrily, "Pedophilia? No, why do you ask?"

All three times the person freaked out, thinking that I was maybe going to take a swing at them.

Thudlow Boink 09-06-2019 09:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by KneadToKnow (Post 21844410)
Having, certainly, a less nuanced understanding of math than the people taking the course, my layman's defintion of "even number" would be one that is divisible by 2 with no remainder, so I also would be wondering of 0 was a special case.

That is indeed the definition. (Or, an even number is one that is equal to 2*k, where k is some integer. But that just makes explicit what "divisible by 2" means.)

But some people (and possibly you?) get confused between division by zero (which you can't do) and zero divided by something else (which is perfectly legit and results in 0).

kopek 09-06-2019 09:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kitap (Post 21844378)
"Do you need your glasses to see?". They are thick coke bottle lenses. They are bifocals. I'm going with yes.

I knew someone with the same situation. Her response sometimes was "Not really ------ unless I have some interest in knowing just what the heck I am seeing".

dalej42 09-06-2019 10:06 AM

‘Why did you decide to be gay?’ Because middle school and high school just weren’t stressful enough.

EmilyG 09-06-2019 10:19 AM

"Do Canadians have Thanksgiving?"

KneadToKnow 09-06-2019 10:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink (Post 21844449)
But some people (and possibly you?) get confused between division by zero (which you can't do) and zero divided by something else (which is perfectly legit and results in 0).

Yep, you've got my number there.






(I had to. This opportunity will never present itself to me again.)

Filbert 09-06-2019 10:36 AM

I've been asked more than once to identify what kind of snake one of these was, over the phone, by adults. My first question, when the suspicion as to its identity started to dawn was 'How many legs does it have?' answers I got included; 'Lots' or 'Quite a few. I thought that was a bit weird for a snake'.

Machine Elf 09-06-2019 11:03 AM

I often go out touring on a motorcycle. I wear protective gear, including (but not limited to) boots and a hi-viz yellow riding jacket. Some years ago on one of these trips I stopped for lunch, and kept my gear on (except for helmet and gloves). Another restaurant customer walking by my table asked me, in all seriousness, if I was a firefighter.

It happened again last month: the waitress, watching me put my gear back on after lunch, asked me "so what do you do?" (implying that perhaps this was attire for some sort of hazardous professional occupation).

Thudlow Boink 09-06-2019 11:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by EmilyG (Post 21844509)
"Do Canadians have Thanksgiving?"

How is this a dumb question?

(I hope that isn't a dumb question.)

Dickerman 09-06-2019 11:32 AM

When people call my office phone, and at some point in the conversation, ask if I'm "here", by which they mean in or around the office environs. This can be forgiven in what's now a mobile phone world, I suppose, but these are campus employees calling a campus phone number.

Similarly, when contacted by someone on a handheld two-way radio and after receiving some type of "copy" from me, they ask if I'm "here". I usually respond with "I think so!"

susan 09-06-2019 11:33 AM

"Did they get all the cancer?"

1. There's no definitive answer to this.
2. What would you do if I said, "No"?

Isosleepy 09-06-2019 11:36 AM

Being from the Netherlands: “ Did you drive here?”
And of course: “did you ever stick your finger in a/the dike?” Surprisingly not all of those were people thinking they were being clever or original with a homonym.

Velocity 09-06-2019 11:42 AM

I don't think some of these questions are "dumb" at all. For a patient to ask the doctor whether "all of the cancer" had been eradicated is a question the doctor can't truly know the answer to, but it's not dumb at all, it's an eminently sensible and reasonable question for a patient to ask. It's perfectly valid to want to know if you appear to be fully cancer-free, as opposed to "Well, there is still a 2x2 inch clump of cancerous cells in your kidney, but we couldn't get rid of it."

Likewise, for someone to ask if Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving, is also a perfectly reasonable question. And for a waitress to ask a customer who is wearing boots and a high-visibilty riding jacket what his occupation is is also very reasonable.

Gatopescado 09-06-2019 11:54 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kayaker (Post 21844432)

Three different times people saw my hands and asked me if I had that disease that Michael Jackson had. Each time I answered, angrily, "Pedophilia? No, why do you ask?"

You deserve a medal! :D

Loach 09-06-2019 12:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Beckdawrek (Post 21843854)
"Are you an Albino?" At least once a week someone asks me that. A bunch of medical professional have asked me. I'm pale and blond. I do not have pink eyes. One of my blue eyes looks purple sometimes.

You don’t have to have pink eyes to be albino. My father-in-law was albino and he had pale blue eyes.

ThisSpaceForRent 09-06-2019 12:25 PM

I run a Pizzeria in St Louis...

The most common (in my opinion STUPID) question I get asked is "How Big is a 14" Pizza" or How big is an 18" pizza"....ummm "14" or 18" inches in diameter, respectively"

snfaulkner 09-06-2019 12:34 PM

"Would you like a beer?"

Rhiannon8404 09-06-2019 12:47 PM

"You volunteer at the animal shelter? How do you keep from taking them all home?"

It's such a ridiculous question I don't even answer it any more. I just stare at them blankly.

WOOKINPANUB 09-06-2019 12:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rsat3acr (Post 21843878)
"Are you sure?" when I tell them at the grocery store please don't bag the milk or any other handled large liquid container like OJ or laundry detergent. Of course I'm sure, that is why I said it.

Funny, it's the opposite for me. Back when I still used store provided plastic bags and they'd ask me if I wanted my gallon of milk or whatever bagged, I'd think "why wouldn't I? It's all being schlepped from the car to the same place?"

Shodan 09-06-2019 12:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by elfkin477 (Post 21843780)
Over the years I've had conversations with people where the topic of being born on holidays has come up. My best friend was born on Christmas, and Dad and I were both born on Easter.

Orthodox, or Western?

Regards,
Shodan

Mallard 09-06-2019 12:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kayaker (Post 21844432)
Fifteenish years ago, Michael Jackson was still alive and my vitiligo kicked in. The backs on my hands were white.

Three different times people saw my hands and asked me if I had that disease that Michael Jackson had. Each time I answered, angrily, "Pedophilia? No, why do you ask?"

All three times the person freaked out, thinking that I was maybe going to take a swing at them.

Just make sure you're not in the clothing department at Walmart on a day when they have boys pants half off. :D

Mallard 09-06-2019 12:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThisSpaceForRent (Post 21844791)
I run a Pizzeria in St Louis...

The most common (in my opinion STUPID) question I get asked is "How Big is a 14" Pizza" or How big is an 18" pizza"....ummm "14" or 18" inches in diameter, respectively"

Always ask that the pizza be cut into 4 pieces because you're not hungry enough to eat 8. :eek:

kopek 09-06-2019 12:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ThisSpaceForRent (Post 21844791)
I run a Pizzeria in St Louis...

The most common (in my opinion STUPID) question I get asked is "How Big is a 14" Pizza" or How big is an 18" pizza"....ummm "14" or 18" inches in diameter, respectively"

I almost asked that one but caught myself: "How bi.......... I mean how many does a 18" usually serve?"

ftg 09-06-2019 01:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink (Post 21844245)
In their defense: all positive integers are either prime or composite—except 1, which is a special case, considered neither prime nor composite. So I suppose they could have been thinking, all integers are either even or odd, except, could 0 be a special case?

Not really. So some other property about a different number that is not actually ambiguous causes confusion ... how? (And keep in mind the context. Your example would be like upper class Math majors not knowing if one was prime or not. If a senior in Math asked a prof if one was prime or not, the prof would definitely classify it as a dumb question.)

A "less bad" example the fact that 0 is neither positive or negative somehow, mysteriously, by some weird thing, causing confusion. But still, it's Computer Science where they've been taught all sorts of stuff about binary numbers.

It is incredibly dumb to not know this is that major at that point in college. Incredibly dumb. Hence why my fellow profs didn't believe me when I mentioned this. They had to see it for themselves. And did.

Machine Elf 09-06-2019 01:16 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Velocity (Post 21844673)
...And for a waitress to ask a customer who is wearing boots and a high-visibilty riding jacket what his occupation is is also very reasonable.

It just seemed goofy to me. Motorcyclists wearing hi-viz riding jackets aren't terribly rare these days; it struck me (both times) as a question asked by someone who just hadn't been very observant prior to that.

Geek Mecha 09-06-2019 01:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dickerman (Post 21844641)
When people call my office phone, and at some point in the conversation, ask if I'm "here", by which they mean in or around the office environs. This can be forgiven in what's now a mobile phone world, I suppose, but these are campus employees calling a campus phone number.

Not a dumb question if they think you might be forwarding your calls.

Zyada 09-06-2019 01:42 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB (Post 21844849)
Funny, it's the opposite for me. Back when I still used store provided plastic bags and they'd ask me if I wanted my gallon of milk or whatever bagged, I'd think "why wouldn't I? It's all being schlepped from the car to the same place?"

Because heavy items with handles are more comfortable to be carried by the handle instead of by a plastic bag?

rsat3acr 09-06-2019 02:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WOOKINPANUB (Post 21844849)
Funny, it's the opposite for me. Back when I still used store provided plastic bags and they'd ask me if I wanted my gallon of milk or whatever bagged, I'd think "why wouldn't I? It's all being schlepped from the car to the same place?"

I see where you are coming from but they asked me if I was sure after I told them not to bag it. I tell them this prior to them asking if I want it bagged. To me that would be like ordering a Big Mac at McDonalds and being asked if I'm sure. No personal snark intended.

Machine Elf 09-06-2019 02:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Zyada (Post 21844987)
Because heavy items with handles are more comfortable to be carried by the handle instead of by a plastic bag?

And also are a waste of a bag.

begbert2 09-06-2019 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ftg (Post 21844906)
Not really. So some other property about a different number that is not actually ambiguous causes confusion ... how? (And keep in mind the context. Your example would be like upper class Math majors not knowing if one was prime or not. If a senior in Math asked a prof if one was prime or not, the prof would definitely classify it as a dumb question.)

A "less bad" example the fact that 0 is neither positive or negative somehow, mysteriously, by some weird thing, causing confusion. But still, it's Computer Science where they've been taught all sorts of stuff about binary numbers.

It is incredibly dumb to not know this is that major at that point in college. Incredibly dumb. Hence why my fellow profs didn't believe me when I mentioned this. They had to see it for themselves. And did.

Depending on how the question, asking whether a blank input should be treated like an even-lengthed input is a fair question. I've done lots of stuff where blank/zero inputs are treated special.

Asking whether zero is an even number is a mixed up way to ask that question, but it's still a fair question.

Asuka 09-06-2019 02:37 PM

I always forget the question that prompts it but with at least 3 different people through my life I've gotten into serious arguments with people who claim you can't have a "high ego but low self-esteem" since both terms were contradictory. I say both terms aren't contradictory but I've literally had a person I was only somewhat friends with start shouting in my face how that can't happen in real life. It really is the dumbest debate I've had with people.


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