> Robin Hanson has an interesting argument that factual
> disagreements should not persist. However I think it
> took as one of its premises that people believe that
> others are basically rational. If that is the case then
> over time people should modify their beliefs in the face
> of persistent disagreement. Disagreements about factual
> matters should not be stable.
> What if people hold the contrary belief, that there are
> significant numbers of other people who are stubbornly
> irrational? It would seem that we might have a stable
> outcome similar to what we actually see: people collecting
> into subgroups with shared opinions, where they believe
> other members of their group are rational (at least on this
> issue!). However the existence of significant groups with
> other opinions does not lead them to change their ideas
> because they simply assume that the others are irrational.
I cannot speak for others, but I certainly hold the latter belief myself--that the vast majority of humans on Earth are indeed stubbornly irrational, and that I am a better judge of facts than even the most educated ("education" as practiced today, after all, is merely indoctrination into the currently popular prejudices).
Not only would that serve to stabilize disagreeing factions, but also the fact that there exists a vast cosmos of facts that are simply unknowable/untestable with present technology, for which reason--even perfect reason--simply cannot supply answers. Every discovery that answers a question creates 10 more questions, so there is a vast universe of ignorance with only a few specks of knowledge that reason can verify. I see no reason why disagreement about facts in that great unknown should cause any discomfort to reasonable people.
-- Lee Daniel Crocker <email@example.com> <http://www.piclab.com> "All inventions or works of authorship original to me, herein and past, are placed irrevocably in the public domain, and may be used for any purpose without permission, attribution, or notification."