Main Armor Piercing Question Discussion

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11:32:46 AM Sep 27th 2016
This seems like a huge problem with every or nearly every included example: in order to properly see that something is an example of an Armor-Piercing Question we need to know the reaction of the person of whom it is asked. It needs to have pierced their metaphorical armor. Almost every example listed seems to end with the question. It's not the same as a pointed question and its not piercing the armor of the audience, it's entirely about how it affects the questioned character. If the character subsequently has no answer and has a shocked look on their face or spirals into depression or explodes into anger or something else along those lines that should be in the example shouldn't it? And if the character just brushes it off, then that doesn't belong on this page.
12:48:46 PM Apr 26th 2015
There are a huge number of interesting and diverse questions in the examples. I want someone to come up with a scenario where "Do you want fries with that?" is an Armor Piercing Question.
11:02:05 PM Oct 11th 2014
Found out (after a long time) that a RL example that I put here shortly after I started was a really bad example on several levels. I'm really sorry about that, and I'm sorry for any trouble I caused.
04:34:04 PM Nov 16th 2013
Should we remove the Half-Life example? The whole point of the trope is that the question has a huge effect on the questionee, and the not-so-good doctor's question has no effect at all on Freeman.
01:13:26 PM Jan 27th 2013
edited by Rissa
It says 'No real life examples', so I'm just going to leave these here. (They were on the main page.)

  • Jeremy Paxman on BBC's Newsnight, interviewing then-Home Secretary Michael Howard on 13 May 1997, about a supposed confrontation he'd had with Derek Lewis, then-head of the Prison Service, about the possible dismissal of the governor of Parkhurst Prison. "Did you threaten to overrule him?" was asked fourteen times in succession, and each time Howard never actually said whether or not he threatened to overrule Lewis—just that he didn't, and that was what mattered ("The question isn't whether I threatened to do it, it's..." "But did you threaten to overrule him?"). Of course, it's slightly averted in that Lewis successfully stonewalled throughout, meaning the question didn't actually get through the armor. Still, Paxman definitely comes off better for his persistence.
    • In 2003, Paxman told Howard that he had only gone after the question so thoroughly because the next item on the show wasn't ready in time. After Paxman asked him about it one more time in 2004, Howard, at that point leader of the Conservative party, supposedly laughed it off and said he hadn't. Of course, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act in 2005 didn't corroborate Howard's answer and in fact probably suggested that Howard lied (he did at one point ask the higher authorities if he could overrule Lewis).
    • Generally speaking this is Paxman's journalistic style. He presses a question long enough for the audience at least to realise that the Politician or person being interviewed isn't giving a straight answer and is basically trying to change the subject.
  • "When did you stop beating your wife?". Ask the question long enough, and most people around hearing it will eventually cave in and start asking the same question in different forms ("Do you beat your wife?", "Is it true?", "When did you start?") regardless of the validity of the claim. The phenomenon is known as a Loaded Question. Loaded with Armor Piercing bullets. This question is particularly bad as their is no simple answer that is decent. Consider what would happen if a politician answered Yes or No. Saying I have never hurt my wife could work but even then you have been caught on film saying that. This was used during door stop interviews so the person was caught off guard.
  • This is an appropriate tactic. When an interviewer (Asker) engages an interviewee (Giver), it's expected that the Asker will ask unless the Giver refuses to answer. Refusing to answer is acceptable. You simply say "I do not want to answer that". What is unacceptable is answering in a deceptive, dismissive way that makes it look like an answer. That tactic by the Giver really should be countered by a simple repeat of the question until an actual answer comes out or the Giver says "No comment". Anything less is a failure of the Asker's duty.
    • The mystery is why so many Givers who ought to know better think that transparent half-answers look better than "No comment".
      • Because people are generally trained from the moment they learned to talk not to directly lie. Half-truths are easy.
      • Conversely, a person who can easily give a bald-faced lie has an advantage, as people don't expect that.
      • And because "no comment" can make it sound like you have something to hide. After all, if the Giver were truly innocent of what he is being accused of he would just say so, right?
06:51:58 PM Jan 19th 2013
06:46:07 PM Jan 23rd 2013
It attracts too many political and controversial examples. We don't to start a Flame War. Stuff like that is better off in the forums.
07:24:07 AM Sep 8th 2011
I wonder whether the 'Are you my mummy?' example from Doctor Who is really an example of this trope, since its the indication of the presence of the Creepy Child that gets to people, not the question itself (which actually appears pretty much meaningless for most of the story).
05:24:23 AM Aug 14th 2010
Deleted the spoiler tag from "the sheer scope of the vast St. Lawrence watershed, that encompasses much of North America" in the Abraham Lincoln example. Seriously, how could this be considered a spoiler?
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