Since Nov 24, 1998

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kevkrom's postulate:

The worst intellectual mistake a person can make is to assume that someone who disagrees with him is either ignorant or mentally deficient. It is a lazy form of argumentation and it smacks of hubris, i.e., an attitude of "my opinion is the only one that matters." If he is unwilling to even consider the fact that the opposition may have legitimate reasons for coming to different conclusions, then he best ask himself who the closed-minded bigot is in the situation.

This is not to say that all points of view are equally valid. In fact, in many (if not most) cases, there are clearly right and wrong answers. The key to effective argumentation is identifying why someone believes what they believe, so that one can appeal to them within their framework.

Of course, it is entirely possible that the other person is ignorant (either by happenstance or willfully so), or is mentally deficient (incapable of understanding, or just flat-out nuts). But it is important to determine this by examination, and not to merely assume it because of their conclusions.