Here’s an excerpt from a post that’s been making the rounds on Tumblr by a guy who says he goes to Harvard:
Not only do smart people ask questions when they don’t understand something, but they also ask questions when the world thinks it understands something. Smart people challenge the very limit of human understanding, and push the envelope of what’s possible farther than many people would argue it’s meant to be pushed. Smart people don’t take claims at face value, and smart people don’t rest until they find an explanation they’re comfortable accepting and understanding.
One of the first things I learned as a journalist was to ask a lot of questions. Duh. But I mean a lot of questions. Questions that your readers won’t even think to ask because they’re so obvious they can pretty safely be assumed (they can’t, of course).
I’d often start out interviews like this: “Explain this (concept) to me as if I were a third-grader.” The point was to make sure my subject and I had the same understanding of the subject’s story. The detail stuff came later.
That strategy inadvertently, but probably inevitably, bled over into my personal life, and it’s helped immensely in my understanding of things. I don’t by any stretch possess above-average intelligence, but I try to get the most of what I do have by striving to be overly inquisitive.
Be smart and go read the rest of Tommy’s post.