So: What’s a good question?

Data Mining Reveals the Secret to Getting Good Answers | MIT Technology Review.

A characteristic of being smart and also an expert in one’s field is being able to ask good questions: those that have clear, defined answers and whose answer (or answers) can lead to further discovery, and do all this in a way that is reproducible.

And that’s really a hard thing to do. For those disciplines where there is a large body of work stretching back not just decades but centuries, and where the discourse has ranged across many languages, it can take nearly a lifetime to ask the best questions, not just the most spectacular ones.

But not always. Brilliant insights, arising from a wilful or naïve blindness, the sort that a talented student might evidence, always occur. Sometimes, these great notions will lead to usable innovations, of the thought or material sort; but usually, not, and for a variety of reasons. We are all limited in what we can do, what we can get others to do with us. And then there is the issue of negotiating these disruptive ideas with those who have power–and who, almost by definition (though not quite), have the most at stake in the discovery and development of new ideas.

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