Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon was noted for a few things other than his genre writing. One was what has become known as Sturgeon’s Law, ninety percent of everything is crap, and the other was the lesser known but more significant concept of, “Ask the next question.” With it, Sturgeon advocated inquiry, asking the next question and then the next question until either the truth was obtained or the imagination exhausted. In an article published in Cavalier Magazine in June, 1967, Sturgeon stated; "Every advance this species has ever made is the result of someone, somewhere, looking at his world, his neighborhood, his neighbor, his cave, or himself and asking that next question. Every deadly error this species has committed, every sin against itself and its high destiny, is the result of not asking the next question, or of not listening to those who do ask it."

Representing the “Ask the next question” credo was the symbol “Q->,” a question mark with an arrow dissecting it and pointing to the right. During the last years of his life, Sturgeon so believed in “Ask the next question” he used the symbol as an addendum to his signature and wore it on a necklace around his neck. I’ve posted the links to Sturgeon’s Cavalier Magazine article where he introduced it as a method of inquiry. Whether “Ask the next question” was a great idea lying dormant for the last twenty years or the eccentric rumblings from an active imagination I’ll let you decide.

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