Posted by Pamela on December 01, 2006
In Reply to: Loaded Question posted by R. Berg on December 01, 2006
: : What does the phrase " That's a Loaded Question " mean?
: A loaded question is like loaded (weighted) dice: it isn't quite fair. It's a question asked in a way that puts the respondent on the defensive. Usually it includes a veiled accusation. ~rb
An example (from Falacy Files http://www.fallacyfiles.org/loadques.html)
"Have you stopped beating your wife?". Since this is a yes/no question, there are only two direct answers: "Yes" (meaning: I was beating my wife, but now I've stopped) or "No" (meaning I was beating my wife and still am). If you have never beaten your wife you therefore can't answer directly without implying a falsehood or a statement that you deny. For this reason, the proper response to such a question is not to answer it directly, but to either refuse to answer or to reject the question.
Journalists' love of the loaded question is, I assume, because many politicians if asked "Do you still support policies that discriminate against ordinary Australians/lead to climate change/whatever" won't feel comfortable following Fallacy File's advice (i.e. "I reject the question" or "I refuse to answer") but will provide more information on a subject they may want to avoid. Pamela