Only As Brilliant As You
This brings me to a post by Orin that every thinking person needs to read, subtly entitled Brilliant People Agree With Me.
Orin followed this up with a flip side, not-so-subtly entitled People Who Disagree With Me Are Just Arguing In Bad Faith:
One of the consequences of confirmation bias is that we are overly impressed by ideas that we happen to share. It’s a natural instinct, if not watched carefully. If you read something that reflects or resonates with your own views, you’ll agree with it. Upon agreeing with it, you’ll think it is highly persuasive. And if it’s highly persuasive, it’s probably brilliant. You see this often in the blogosphere when bloggers link to someone’s “superb” and “extremely insightful” post. You click on the link, and you’re underwhelmed by the post. But you realize it is strikingly similar to what the original linker thinks about the topic. It’s possible to take our blinders off, or, more realistically, to minimize them. But it often requires some work, and the amount of work that different people give varies considerably.
This doesn't mean you have to relinquish your sincerely held beliefs, or that you're disingenuous for applauding someone with whom you agree, but that there are almost invariably meritorious arguments for and against any position. Just because someone comes out on the other side doesn't make them pond scum, and just because someone's insipid argument reaches a conclusion that warms your heart and validates your existence doesn't make them brilliant.
I explained before why brilliant people agree with me. I want to talk about the other side of the picture. I’ve come to the realization that people who disagree with me are just arguing in bad faith. How do I know? Well, when I get into an argument, no one who disagrees with me ever says anything I find persuasive. They never even come close. It seems to me that if a person who disagrees with me were smart and acted in good faith, surely he would say something that persuaded me (even if only a little). But since that never happens, people who disagree with me must be either stupid or acting in bad faith. I’m a generous person, so I won’t assume the other guy is stupid. And that leads me to conclude, reluctantly, that people who disagree with me are arguing in bad faith.
One of the great blessings and curses of the blawgosphere (and the internet as a whole) is that if you search hard enough, you will find someone who agrees with you, no matter what your opinion might be. You feel vindicated. You're not alone. There is a tribe behind you and no longer must you dwell in isolation, but you are embraced in the bosom of people who get it. Just like you do.
As Orin's posts were both one paragraph long, and I've quoted them in their entirety and fully anticipate his wrath at my brazen theft of his foundational points, resulting in his demand that I cease and desist, this post may not survive for very long. But what he has to say is critically important to critical thinking. Having been reminded of their existence, it seemed a good idea to offer it here as well.
These posts are something that everyone who reads Simple Justice ought to read. Take them to heart.