“If you argue with an idiot, there are two idiots” – Robert Kiyosaki
“Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.” – Mark Twain
I feel like the quotes above say it all. If you argue with an idiot, you’re also an idiot (at least in that moment of time). Because honestly, why would you argue with an idiot in the first place? It’s like arguing with a little kid or somebody who is mentally challenged. Okay, maybe its not that bad. But you get my point =).
Arguing with an idiot is stupid. I think we all can agree to that. But for one reason or another, we still end up doing it. So the question is why? The answer to this question came to me from asking the two questions below (see the Want Answers? Ask The Right Questions post) first:
- What makes a person an idiot when it comes to argument and debate?
- If I know a person is an idiot, why do I still argue?
Okay, before I go on I want to explain how I define an idiot so you know where I’m coming from. To me, an “idiot” isn’t only someone with a low IQ, it can also someone who is just being stupid (or emotional) when it comes to a specific argument.
So how can you tell if a person is, or is being an idiot?
Whenever you see someone have one or more of the following characteristics during an argument or debate:
- Acts like he knows what he’s talking about, but really has no idea.
- Doesn’t have the intelligence to be able to make sound conclusions based off of logic and reasoning.
- Only acknowledges facts that support his or her claims and ignores the facts that contradict it.
- Lets his or her personal bias blind him or her from reality.
- Changes what he is arguing about when proven wrong.
Looking back at the arguments I’ve had with idiots, I’ve realized that most of time I didn’t even consider the person I was arguing with to be an “idiot.” Therefore, I would try to argue with them on an intellectual level and would get frustrated when no matter what logic and reasoning I presented they wouldn’t change their mind or just didn’t get it.
But now, whenever I see any of the characteristics above in a person I’ll know that I am dealing with an idiot (at least when it comes to that argument). And once I’ve identified a person as an idiot, it makes it a lot less difficult for me to stop arguing with them and “walk away from the fight” emotionally.
But unfortunately identifying the person to be an idiot isn’t always enough to make me walk away. Sometimes, the desire the prove the idiot wrong is just too strong. Which leads me up to the next question.
Why do I still argue with someone even after I know they are an idiot?
From my experience, it is because the idiot I was arguing with was someone I cared about or saw very often and:
- What we are arguing about was for their own benefit.
- or I got sick of hearing the person’s false beliefs (stated as a fact) over and over again.
- or the person thought something about me personally that I believed to be false.
That’s when the light bulb came on for me. It’s easy not to care about what a random idiot thinks. But it’s a different story when the idiot is someone you actually care about or see often. So what do you do when in a situation like this?
I’ve come to the conclusion that when a person is truly being or acting like an idiot, all the logic and reasoning in the world won’t change their mind. The best option here is to agree to disagree. And if you must, try to change their way of thinking indirectly instead. I know biting your tongue doesn’t feel as good as proving them wrong. But if you actually care about the person (and/or want to avoid hurt feelings and resentment), in the end it’s the better choice to make.