There are, aren’t there, many types of questions? Rhetorical questions, leading questions, straight questions, difficult questions. Latin, I dimly remember from school, had particular ways of asking questions to which the expected answer was ‘yes’ and other ways of asking if the expected answer were ‘no’.
I’m quite a questioning person myself. ‘Why is the world like this?’ I used to ask as a biologist, and ‘Why is the world like this?’ I used to ask as an advocate.
The UK’s national academy of science, the Royal Society, is holding a meeting on sustainable intensification of agriculture on 9 May. You can’t question the Royal Society for being trendy – after all they have a lock of Isaac Newton’s hair upstairs in their library – what could be cooler than that?
But for Britain’s top boffins to ask ‘Do environmental services and biodiversity have a place in farming policy?’ seems a bit of an easy question. If the answer is ‘no’ then I’d like a rebate of my share of the two billion pounds a year that we have been paying farmers for years. And if the answer is ‘yes’ then I wish Defra would pull their fingers out of wherever they are trapped and deliver some decent value for money for our investment.
Even the silliest question is worth asking sometimes.