Feb. 4, 2024

An investigation of when and why people ask loaded questions that are a proxy for something else.

  • Prologue: Host Ira Glass talks with producer Tobin Low about the question he got asked after he and his boyfriend moved in together, and what he thinks people were really asking. (4 minutes)
  • Act One: “What do you think about Beyoncé?” and other questions that are asked a lot, raised by people on first dates. (12 minutes)
  • Act Two: When a common, seemingly innocuous question goes wildly off the rails. (13 minutes)
  • Act Three: Why are people asking me if my mother recognizes me, when it’s totally beside the point? (14 minutes)
  • Act Four: Schools ask their students the strangest essay questions sometimes. The experience of tutoring anxious teenagers through how to answer them requires a balladier, singing his lived experience to a crowd as though it were the Middle Ages. (10 minutes)

Transcripts are available at

This episode is from This American Life whose proprietor has full ownership and responsibility on its contents and artworks. It was shared using Castamatic, a podcast app for iPhone and iPad.