A loaded question is a question that contains an unjustified presumption.
Some use loaded questions as a tool to serve the agenda of the questioner, in such as way that almost anything that is answered will back up the presumption. It is a manipulating technique often used by authorities and media.
A classic example is “Have you stopped beating your wife?”, a loaded question with the presumption that the person has, at some point, beaten their wife, while the answerer has never stated such.
Answering either Yes or No would both automatically mean that at some point, you have beaten your wife.
The defence technique is, rather than answering Yes or No, to refer to the assumption instead. To the wife beating question, you would answer “I have never beaten my wife.”
Origin of the term
Loaded question lies in the same category as complex questions, leading- and suggesting questions.
The reason it is called “loaded” is because its an acronym for how a soldier loads ammunition into a rifle – shots are about to be fired.
Spread of the term
Such questions are often used by journalists, interviewers and media that shares propaganda and profits by forming a specific viewpoint.
The loaded question tool is also often used in forensics, making a suspect admitting their guilt, sometimes without even realizing it themselves.