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Sunday, March 09, 2008
Consistency -vvw

Whenever someone tells me his opinions, I have an annoying habit of responding with questions that force him to check the consistency of his beliefs. While I think that this is beneficial, as it sometimes uncovers flaws in the arguments or reveals new perspective that the person has not considered before, it is not uncommon that some people mistake it for an attack on their beliefs. This annoys people and that's why I call it an annoying habit.

Excluding the misunderstandings, I encountered varied reactions from the rest. There are those who formed their opinions after much thought and are relatively consistent in their beliefs. These people generally have no problems with me since my questions exert no pressure on them.

Others feel uncomfortable when they realize that their belief is not as consistent as they would like it to be. These people tend to become defensive, perhaps even a little angry. That's when I know it's time for me to shut up.

Surprisingly, there are also people whom, upon realizing their own inconsistencies, accept that they are inconsistent beings and have a good laugh over the silliness of it all.

I do not know whether a person needs to be completely consistent in his beliefs to be considered rational. This is best left to the philosophers and logicians. I do feel that it is good to have at least a certain degree of logical consistency in one's opinions. However, the lack of it is also not something to be ashamed of. We are only human and humans are by nature irrational.

-- permalink --
Yiheng made
11:41 AM


There must be a reason for this "annoying habit".

Most of the smart people will laugh this off and say that they're asking only because they're interested.

But I think there is this rather insidious inferiority complex which compels you to dissect these people's opinions, knowingly or unknowingly.

Am I right?

By Anonymous the M from S&M, at 3:10 AM  

I always thought I ask questions because it's fun and I'm doing my victims a favour. But you may be right. Perhaps this inferiority complex is so insidious I just haven't noticed it yet.
By Anonymous yiheng, at 6:54 PM  

It definitely makes a person feel more superior if he could point the flaws in logic in another's argument. I tend to take a different approach: I can recognise one's flaw in logic, then make him conclude or believe in something totally erroneous. Now THAT's more fun to do.
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 10:11 PM  

I think it's kinder to let people live in their inconsistency.
By Anonymous the M from S&M, at 7:21 PM  

But it's SO much more fun to bring them back to reality, espacially when reality bites.
By Blogger Soqcrates, at 11:21 PM  

reality and truth. those are very silly things to assume your superiority in. "espacially" if you think you're more superior to someone by proving his logic fallacious, you're just as guilty and self-deceived as he is in thinking that you're right.
By Anonymous M, at 9:55 AM  

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