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Old 09-05-2019, 09:47 PM
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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.

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?
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Old 09-05-2019, 09:52 PM
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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.
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Old 09-05-2019, 09:53 PM
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Born on Easter? That is pretty cool. But don't you get tired of having your birthday on a Sunday every year?

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Old 09-06-2019, 04:16 PM
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Born on Easter? That is pretty cool. But don't you get tired of having your birthday on a Sunday every year?

Being born on Christmas must suck since you don't get two sets of presents.
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:49 PM
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Being born on Christmas must suck since you don't get two sets of presents.
I know you're joking, but my brother in law was born on Christmas Eve, and I always make a point of getting him two presents.
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Old 09-09-2019, 11:17 AM
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Another: Where do you get the ideas for your art?
Do artists in general perceive this as a stupid question? I am not an artist, in fact art (visual, specifically) may as well be magic to me. I have no idea how an artist does what they do nor where they may get inspiration. It is, however, a fascinating subject to me. I am one who asks that very question.
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Old 09-10-2019, 09:21 PM
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Do artists in general perceive this as a stupid question? I am not an artist, in fact art (visual, specifically) may as well be magic to me. I have no idea how an artist does what they do nor where they may get inspiration. It is, however, a fascinating subject to me. I am one who asks that very question.
Yeah, it's a nonsense question. The only real answer is "I look at things and hear things and feel things, then sometimes I think things because of them" and that's disappointing to the type of person who asks.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:09 PM
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"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.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:15 PM
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"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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:10 PM
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"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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 05:42 PM
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You don’t have to have pink eyes to be albino. My father-in-law was albino and he had pale blue eyes.
Is that so? Well now I can answer "maybe"
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Old 09-06-2019, 05:53 PM
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You don’t have to have pink eyes to be albino. My father-in-law was albino and he had pale blue eyes.
All I know is what I read in the Wikipedias, but, are you sure? Could he have had leucism instead?
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:24 PM
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All I know is what I read in the Wikipedias, but, are you sure? Could he have had leucism instead?
Quite sure. He eventually died from Hermansky–Pudlak syndrome. One of the symptoms is oculocutaneous albinism. It is surprisingly prevalent in some portions of the Puerto Rican population.
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Old 09-05-2019, 10:30 PM
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"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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:48 PM
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"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?"
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:42 PM
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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?
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:15 PM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 04:26 PM
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Because heavy items with handles are more comfortable to be carried by the handle instead of by a plastic bag?
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And also are a waste of a bag.
Unless you have dogs. Then they come in very handy for picking up poop.
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Old 09-06-2019, 03:23 PM
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Because heavy items with handles are more comfortable to be carried by the handle instead of by a plastic bag?
Not when you're carrying several other plastic bags, at least for me. If I carry a gallon of water by its handle, that's all I can comfortably carry in that hand, whereas if its in a plastic bag, I can easily add those handles to several other bags' handles. Does that make sense?
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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.
Oh my, that is silly!
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:45 AM
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Because heavy items with handles are more comfortable to be carried by the handle instead of by a plastic bag?
Yet I can schlep many gallons of milk at once if they're in bags. Not many if they're not. This was more of an issue when my parking spot was a long way from my apartment.

You could carry all your small items separately too and not have to deal with a heavy bag or waste a bag.
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:03 PM
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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.

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Old 09-05-2019, 10:53 PM
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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.

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Old 09-05-2019, 11:23 PM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:21 AM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:19 AM
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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.)
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:42 PM
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When telling someone about my spinal cord injury, I often include the fact that I've retained full physical sensation *throughout* my body. Amazingly, I've had numerous people stare at me dumbfounded, poke or push my thigh and say, "so you can feel that?"
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:51 PM
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Double post

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Old 09-06-2019, 12:29 AM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:38 AM
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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".
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Old 09-06-2019, 12:47 AM
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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 ....
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Old 09-06-2019, 05:57 AM
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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...
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:53 AM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:15 AM
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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?
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:37 AM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:54 AM
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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).
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Old 09-09-2019, 02:52 PM
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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.
I worked the front desk of a library for some time, and I never saw that happen. Hunh.
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Old 09-06-2019, 01:09 PM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:28 PM
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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.
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Old 09-06-2019, 08:18 PM
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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.
I didn't remember if the rules for even numbers included 0 or had a special exception for it. Even though 0 is in the set of numbers evenly divisible by two in my mind, I didn't remember that the definition of even was that and only that.

Even's and Odd's are somewhat arbitrary sets in the grand scheme of things (e.g. there are also sets of evenly divisible by 3, or by 4, etc.), and it's not obvious on the surface if there is some mathematical principal driving the need to define and give a name to those two particular sets that might have an exception for 0, or if they are just convenient sets due to frequency of usage.


Regarding binary numbers:
the number base someone might be using to perform some operations doesn't change the definition of the set of numbers. For example, the definition of the set of natural numbers isn't influenced by whether someone is going to perform some operations on a computer.


Having said all of that: once I googled the actual definition of "even number", I did feel kind of dumb
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:04 PM
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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.
I'm sorry, that's not a dumb question. Not being a mathematician, I wouldn't be surprised if there are contexts in which zero is even, contexts in which it is odd, and contexts in which it's neither. It's just nothing.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:52 PM
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I'm sorry, that's not a dumb question. Not being a mathematician, I wouldn't be surprised if there are contexts in which zero is even, contexts in which it is odd, and contexts in which it's neither. It's just nothing.
What the what?

Not up to date on the last several thousand years of Math, I take it.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:51 PM
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I'm sorry, that's not a dumb question. Not being a mathematician, I wouldn't be surprised if there are contexts in which zero is even, contexts in which it is odd, and contexts in which it's neither. It's just nothing.
Being a pedant, I'll note that there are contexts where zero definitely isn't nothing. And contexts where it is. And contexts where 0 is 0 and -1 is, essentially, nothing.

But seriously, zero will never be odd. It will either be even, or a placeholder for a special situation where it's not intended to be interpreted as a number at all. (Like when it means 'nothing'.)
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Old 09-12-2019, 09:58 AM
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I'm sorry, that's not a dumb question. Not being a mathematician, I wouldn't be surprised if there are contexts in which zero is even, contexts in which it is odd, and contexts in which it's neither. It's just nothing.
Indeed. It hardly strikes me as a dumb question at all. I guess if the binary was "is it even or odd," and knowing the answer is one of these, I would say "even." But if presented with simply the question "is zero even?" I would hesitate, thinking it may be some exception, since zero often is, and answer "neither" (if I hadn't already known that zero is definitely even.) I mean, it's an asked enough question that Numberphile had an episode about it.
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
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...
"Oh, you speak English."
  #45  
Old 09-07-2019, 10:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
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...
Actually the stupidest question would be for them to shout, "DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?????'
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Old 09-08-2019, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Kent Clark View Post
Actually the stupidest question would be for them to shout, "DO YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?????'
Some do. There's people who clearly have never understood WHAT THE PHONE IS FOR!
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Old 09-06-2019, 09:13 AM
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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.

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
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Old 09-07-2019, 02:45 AM
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Easter - any Sunday between March 22 and April 25
Specifically, the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. If it would match Passover, then it's moved to the following Sunday.
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by glee View Post
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.)
Of course it's obvious. With the exception of people born on February 29th whose original birth date only exists 25% of the time, no one's birth date varies from year to year.
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Old 09-08-2019, 03:17 PM
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Of course it's obvious. With the exception of people born on February 29th whose original birth date only exists 25% of the time, no one's birth date varies from year to year.
I don't understand. You originally posted that " Dad and I were both born on Easter..."
Many people think of a birthday as a date, not the title of the day. (This helps when sending cards.)
The day and month of Easter varies from year to year.

(If you announce your birthday is on Mother's Day, your day and month also varies.)
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