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Question inspired by:

and others.

Could someone explain me the point of such questions?

My POV is that many works of fiction (especially from popculture) disregard reality and common sense. This is either because they think that this attitude will make their works more interesting or because the writers themselves (with all respect to them) have no clue what they're talking about and are thus unable to come with a believable plot. In both cases the result is that trying to find any sense in a plot that makes no sense is, well, senseless. Asking such questions is precisely as pointless as asking how could Jessie, James & Meowth not die each time they were launched into orbit and fell back on Earth.

Wrt the Cubone question, the Pokemon writers wanted something spooky & tear-shedding, so they came out with this skull idea without bothering to think if it makes sense and without realizing it doesn't. Wrt Malfoy, I wouldnt be surprised if the answer was that the author wanted some more suspense, danger to the protagonists & seemingly "deep" plot complication, so she made her characters behave in an hardly believable way. Not her fault: it's the problem of most contemporary people that bc of lack of experience they DONT KNOW how people behave if facing violence and/or credible threats of violence and which behaviors make sense and which are suicidal. As a result, Hollowood for example is widely regarded for flashy and gory movies that are not believable at all. (Btw I tried myself to come with a good plot, I thought my plot was deep, then I educated myself just a teeny tiny bit and... scrapped my plot, having found out that thoughts I thought were some pieces of deep wisdom were instead pieces of puerile BS and situations I thought were believable were not believable at all. Now I'm not even trying to devise any new plot. Because I know I'm going to fall to this trap again.)

So. Am I failing to grasp something? What is the point of such questions I am failing to see? What fallacies did I make in my above reasoning?

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    The “point” is because someone spotted that didn’t quite make sense to them and wanted to know the reason behind it. Also questions like this can give off some really good answers. Maybe the OPs assumptions were wrong, maybe there’s an in universe explanation, maybe there’s some really good analysis to come out of it. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 18 '18 at 20:03
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The point is that people find such questions interesting.

That's basically it. There is an argument to be made that these questions are pointless - to an extent, our entire site is pretty pointless, since trivia/analysis about works of sci-fi and fantasy are rarely going to have a significant effect on anyone's life - but many people on the site enjoy them. And if you don't, you don't need to read them. (The general "you", not you specifically.)

See also Is "I am curious about X" sufficient justification for asking questions on SFF.SE? (TL;DR: yes). If a large enough subset of the community is interested in (on-topic) questions of a particular type, then they're likely to be well-received on the site. You do have a point that, from a certain point of view, these questions are silly ... but there's no need to take them away from those who do enjoy them.

  • Story-ID questions aren't pointless. They provide a valuable service to people who've spent their valuable time (in some cases decades) making this face – Valorum Oct 19 '18 at 19:35
  • @Valorum Yes, story-ID questions and suggested-order questions are the two main exceptions to the general principle that nothing we do here has any real effect on people's lives beyond idle curiosity. – Rand al'Thor Oct 20 '18 at 14:56
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To answer your main question the point is that someone has spotted something in the plot/story line/character element that didn't make much sense to them and so they want to know the answer. It really is as simple as that.

However, to go a bit deeper and expand on your reasoning.

My POV is that many works of fiction (especially from popculture) disregard reality and common sense.

There's a couple of points to this so:

  • Exactly this is your point of view and as I'm sure you know not everyone has the same point of view.

  • Maybe they do disregard popculture but a lot of readers/watchers watch these things because of that. Not everyone just wants to immerse themselves in something exactly like real life... a lot of people immerse themselves in another work to escape reality.

This is either because they think that this attitude will make their works more interesting or because the writers themselves (with all respect to them) have no clue what they're talking about and are thus unable to come with a believable plot.

To be honest a lot of the time the slightly less believable part of the plot opens up more pathways to a more interesting story. I'm certainly happy to suspend my disbelief over some minor "problem" if it leads to more interesting outcomes in the end. Also not everyone knows everything, writers generally have a good grasp of "most" elements of the story but they won't be an expert in everything they talk about so things won't always be "correct". For example, it's well known that JKR is bad at maths.

I think it's also worth pointing out that these are fictional worlds, it's not a surprise that not everything works the same. The next point is an important one and something that comes up a lot.

People are a lot more likely to question something that is closer to reality.

Dragons exist in this universe? Wow cool I can believe that! That dragon took a trip that should have taken 5 days in 3 days!? WHAT THE HELL IS THIS NONSENSE!!11!!!!???

In both cases the result is that trying to find any sense in a plot that makes no sense is, well, senseless. Asking such questions is precisely as pointless as asking how could Jessie, James & Meowth not die each time they were launched into orbit and fell back on Earth.

Is it? If you "know" it "makes no sense" you likely wouldn't be asking because you'd "know" the answer. The people asking these questions are asking because they don't know the answer. Even if they do know the reasoning behind why it makes no sense maybe they are hoping they skipped over something wherein fact it does make sense after all.

So that's it from a questioner's perspective but why do people answer these? There are any number of reasons but to list a few in line with your question:

  • They say it doesn't make sense and why it doesn't make sense.

  • They attempt to explain how it could make sense.

  • They tell us actually it does make sense after all because of X, Y and Z. In fact a lot of very good answers can come from a question that started off as a false premise.

  • etc.

Specific cases

It's worth noting that the second of these questions is currently in the HNQ and considering the score of the first it likely was at some point too. So, whilst SFF users liked the questions initially their scores have exploded exponentially due to the effect of the HNQ and the drive by users it brings in.

How can every Cubone be wearing its dead mothers' skull? This is actually quite a nice question when you think about it. How can this actually be the case? And before I look at the answers (and knowing nothing of Pokemon) I can think of a few in universe possibilities:

  • They can only have one child
  • They wear only part of the skull
  • Can grow multiple skulls
  • They die after giving birth

The actual top answer goes into a lot of information and is very detailed. If we had not had this question asked we would have lost out on this. It even comes to a sensible in universe reasoning, the Pokedex is inaccurate and potentially incorporates myths as fact.

Why did Dumbledore allow Draco Malfoy to return to school in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince? Again it's quite a nice question that will lead into answers that analyse Dumbledore's character. The question itself isn't actually inherently bad if asked about today's schools, in the UK students are given a lot of chances to improve their behaviour before expulsion and of course before accusing someone of attempted murder you need to have evidence.

Then looking at the answer it is very nice and detailed with a good assessment of Dumbledore's character and why he let this happen. It in fact shows us that there perhaps the plot _doesn't "disregard reality and common sense".

  • I think I've came up with a succint condensation of my question. My (perhaps false) presumption is that the questions like the one about Cubones implicitly assume that the universe they're talking about is coherent. But this is not always the case, in fact, many (not all) writers do not really care to make their universes coherent. This makes "bacause the universe is not coherent" the most valid asnwer to such questions. After all, in logics, incoherence entails everything. – gaazkam Oct 19 '18 at 11:16
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    @gaazkam There's nothing to say these universe are coherent or not, in fact in regards to the Cubones question it can easily be passed off as the universe is coherent but someone mistakenly took myth for fact in universe. I wouldn't be so quick to say a universe isn't coherent because of one "mistake". And saying "many (not all) writers do not really care to make their universes coherent" is most certainly plainly wrong and probably insulting to a lot of writers. – TheLethalCarrot Oct 19 '18 at 11:20
  • The people who ask those questions really want to know the answers? It's not just kids who are inordinately proud of themselves for spotting a plot hole they imagine everyone missed, and want everyone to know how clever they are? Sure had me fooled. – user14111 Oct 20 '18 at 1:15
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In addition to the existing answers, I would add one point, particularly for Harry Potter.

Many of these types of questions do have answers, but the answers are not necessarily readily apparent to a casual reader. Even if an answer is explicitly declared in one of the books, the series spans a whopping 4,090 pages (at least in my edition). As hard as it is to find the answer when it’s only one passage, most of the time it’s even harder. For many questions the answer is woven together from several passages across multiple chapters and books. By asking a question here the asker is simply tapping into the memory or research skills of an entire team of Harry Potter answerers.

In other words, this site simply provides the resources to find answers to such questions that a reader may not have access to on their own. That is what the point of asking them here it is.

  • There are also cases such as Brandon Sanderson's books, where it is known to the fan base that he does a lot of worldbuilding and planning in advance, along with many easter eggs that reference some connections between works. In this case, Brandon has been answering questions from fans for years, adding another layer of information that is often not obvious just from the books. Most answers are "Read and find out"; but there is a large amount of questions and answers for his works – JMac Oct 31 '18 at 19:38

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