My Favorite Question

Or at least, my favorite question that’s not related to a specific scenario:

“How would that work, exactly?”

Far, far, far too often, folks — especially those in politics or punditry — get away with sweeping, and sometimes compelling, statements about how things should/would work under the principles they espouse (or about the terrible way things work under their opponent’s leadership).  The only problem is, they’re not actually explaining the how it would work part.  And that’s the question that should always be asked: “Walk me through it.  Take us step by step and show us how it happens.”

The best case: the speaker knows what he/she is talking about, and by turning that knowledge into a concrete picture of how something plays out, conveys it to the audience far more vividly.

Worst case: Another liar is called out on his/her BS.

Examples:

#1

(To an experienced FBI interrogator:) A lot of people these days seem to think that Jack Bauer techniques, or worse, are what will elicit information from a terrorism suspect.  As someone who has obtained information from suspected terrorists without any use of such tactics, can you walk us through what really happens?  Let’s say you have just learned that someone has been arrested, and you’re going to be interrogating him.  What is your very first step? . . . . And then?  . .  . And then . . . . ?

It would be great to have this discussion with someone like Jack Cloonan.

#2

Q:  So please walk us through exactly how these alleged “death panels” would work.  First of all, how are they formed?  Who puts them together?  Who would sit on them? . . . .

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