How to recognize an idiot during a debate

Everyone complains about his memory, but nobody complains of your mind ©La Rochefoucauld

First of all, the author would like to Express my appreciation to the many interviewees both in real life and on internetforum, without whose help this article would never have seen the light.

Time to identify an idiot during a discussion is extremely important, as this will allow you to save significant effort. Of course, sometimes you can change the opinion of the idiot is not based on the facts and not using logical arguments, but in this article it is assumed that the discussion is conducted for exchange of logically consistent views and new information from each other, and not for recruitment into the ranks of the supporters of his ideas of idiots.

Before proceeding to analysis of signs by which you will be able to determine that the person participating in the discussion is an idiot, we'll explain what is meant by the term idiot. Of course in this case the term "idiot" is not a medical term, but rather characterizes the intellectual abilities of man.



We now proceed to the consideration of the signs that you are debating with an idiot.

1) Rudeness and/or lack of any factual or logical justification in giving reply or approval of something

Examples: Everything you say is garbage! Nonsense! The earth is flat and stands on three pillars, and don't you dare say otherwise! Etc.

Explanation. If the person is unable to give any logical or factual arguments in support of his opinions, he remains nothing how to be rude and categorically and groundlessly saying its. Failure to justify this view suggests that the discussions with you idiot with high probability.

Reliability characteristic: not very high.

An example explaining the possible causes of unreliability: for example, in the debate of the two intellectual and erudite interlocutors discussed Napoleon, his policy, etc. interferes with another man. "And Napoleon, among other things, a Jew and a Mossad agent and his task was to establish world domination of the Freemasons" — he said. For discussion in the future depends on the strength of nerves and pedagogical tendencies of the first two participants.

If they have strong nerves and they are not alien to the pedagogical talent, they can try to educate a new participant of the discussion about the historical realities of the Napoleonic period. If they succeed or not say in advance is impossible, but we can assume that this probability is relatively low.

Because if people really interested in the question and is able to learn, then he too could probably find something less acceptable the literature on this period and not carried to such drivel.

Therefore, if the first two panellists not too seasoned, not free tend to get wedged into the discussion, then it may very well be that one of them or both of them will tell the new interlocutor something like — "Go away! Moron!" in no way arguing your answer. And this is their statement falls under the above a sign of idiocy, but, as is obvious from the above example, in this particular case, this feature works properly, as this statement made by idiots are not. So it is desirable to apply only in conjunction with other signs.

2) Attempt to convince the opponent not with logical arguments and facts, but through repetition of unsubstantiated allegations

Example: Consider the same aforementioned interlocutors discussions about Napoleonic times. Suppose that after strauchii in discussion said to them, "And Napoleon, among other things, a Jew and a Mossad agent and his task was to establish world domination of the Freemasons", they sent it right away, thoroughly and with evidence from reputable sources began to explain to him that Napoleon could not be a Mossad agent, though, because at the time of Israel as a state did not exist and certainly there was not such a secret services like the Mossad. And Napoleon was not a Jew, and was a Corsican. Then made similar statements a while waiting, and then appears again with the same allegations which were refuted his interlocutors. Further action disputing with such a character depend on their patience, and with his hand, the results repeatedly refuted such claims becomes cyclical in nature.

Note: in the example it is obvious that behaves this way is either not able to keep in mind given his statements against the arguments of more than a relatively short period, or it considers that multiple repetition of a assertion despite the fact that it was logically or actually refuted, nevertheless gradually make it true either in General or in the eyes of his companions

Reliability characteristic: extremely high

3) Baseless generalization and extrapolation

Example: When someone says, for example, that all Finns of music only listen to Frank Sinatra on the grounds that he was acquainted with only two of Finn, and they are nothing but songs of Frank Sinatra didn't listen, or that all French people wear triangular hats and my dream is to conquer Russia, as he has read somewhere about Napoleon and extrapolated this information to all the French.

Or here is another example of incorrect extrapolation authored by Bobby Henders (more on this in the Wikipedia article Flying spaghetti Monster)

Pirates and global warming


Effect of the number of pirates on global warming as illustrated by the fact that correlation does not equal causality (lat. um hoc ergo propter hoc -- after this, therefore because of this). In the letter, Henderson develops the argument that "global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural disasters is a direct result of the reduction in the number of pirates since 1800". Schedule attached to the letter shows that with the reduction in the number of pirates to global temperature increases, thus illustrating that statistically related things, however, are not always interrelated.

Notes: of the above statements or similar you can quite clearly state that doing them has no idea what constitutes a representative sample, and that not any extrapolation makes sense by itself.

Reliability characteristic: extremely high

4) Attempt to refute statistical data isolated examples.

Example: When someone in response to a statistical study which shows that the average standard of living in the U.S. is higher than, for example, in Belarus, says — "a Lie! I'm in the US and there were I have a bum begging money for food! Is it high quality of life?! But in Belarus, my brother lives in his own Villa, car "Jaguar" and in General he is almost a millionaire! So all your statistics are lying about the fact that in Belarus the level of living is lower than in the United States!"

Explanation: In principle, the explanation in this case is unnecessary.

The reliability of symptom: very high

5) Attempt to attract arguments (to refute or confirm claims) from the field which are not the subject of discussion (lynched blacks, etc.)

Example: Someone say in discussions about the country in which the average standard of living higher States "Here You argue that the US standard of living is higher than in Somalia. And the US, among other things, a nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki! There's a bunch of people died!", etc.

Explanation: In this case, people do not understand that because the subject of discussion is the comparative standard of living across countries, not what the image of a country, what methods have been made in it high quality of life, etc. Therefore, although the statement is absolutely true, within the framework of the above discussion, it is pointless, because in no way refutes nor confirms the fact that in the US the average standard of living higher or lower than in Somalia.

Reliability characteristic: not very high

An example explaining the possible causes of unreliability: If the subject of the discussion is not clearly identified, but it is not so rare, that one person just may decide to expand the scope of the discussion, arguments of interconnected and interdependent with the discussion of other areas. In this case, such an opponent will not be stupid. Idiot it will be only in case if the topic of discussion was stipulated quite clearly, and contrary to this he will try to push through the discussion of arguments for this topic is not covered.

6) Selective use of data and logical reasoning

Example: If a Mongol all proves, resulting in a lot of historical information that Chuck (founder of the Zulu state in South Africa) was a bloodthirsty savage and the aggressor, but terribly offended and refuses, on the basis of not a smaller amount of data and following the same logic, to recognize same savage Genghis Khan, thus demonstrating the selective application of logic and the desire to ignore those data that do not fit into his ideas.

Explanation: the Actual explanation in this case is superfluous

The reliability of symptom: very high

7) lack of understanding of the unequal value of different sources of information

Example: If people do not understand that the article in physics published in the journal AIDS info, has much less weight than an article on the same subject published in such scientific journals as "Nature" or "Physical Review Letters", or that, ceteris paribus, the information reported to news Agency "Reuters", has more credibility than information from a source like all the same AIDS info, then that in itself is very revealing.

Explanation: the Area of assessing the credibility of certain information sources is still quite little formalized, that does not negate, however, the possibility of gradation of these sources according to the degree of reliability empirically. In the same areas as the science has developed a workable methodology for assessing the credibility of scientific articles such as citation index

The reliability of the symptom: is high enough

An example explaining the possible causes of unreliability: Notwithstanding the foregoing, however, it should be noted that there are cases when serious and credible information has migrated to the authoritative edition of the yellow pages, and in science some theories, and later accepted the right could not get to the pages of serious scientific journals. Although it should be noted that currently such cases are rather rare exceptions.

8) Inability to logical reasoning and understand and correct logical errors in their arguments, even if they are directly specified by opponents.


Someone conducts an experiment on a trained dog. At his command, "come!" she runs over to the experimenter. Then he amputates her legs and again commanded "come!" the dog remains motionless and on this basis, the experimenter concludes that the hearing of the dog are on the feet and if her amputated leg, the dog dies.

Or the same example from the book Ivin "the Art of right thinking"

Usually we apply the Boolean laws without thinking about them, often unaware of their very existence. But it happens that even the use of simple schematic faces with well-known difficulties.

The experiments conducted by psychologists in order to compare the thinking of people of different cultures clearly show that the most common cause of difficulties is that the scheme of reasoning, its form is not released in a pure form. For the question about correct reasoning instead involved some irrelevant meaningful considerations. Usually they are associated with a specific situation described in the reasoning.

Here's how to describe the progress of one of the experiments conducted in Africa, by M. Cole and S. Scribner in the book "Culture and mindset".


One day the spider went for a celebration lunch. But he said before starting to eat, he needs to answer one question. The question is: "Spider and black deer always eat together. The spider eats. Whether eating a deer?"

Subject. They were in the woods?

Experimenter. Yes.

Subject. They ate it together?

Experimenter. The spider and the deer always eat together. The spider eats. Whether eating a deer?

Subject. But I wasn't there. How can I answer this question?

Experimenter. Can't answer? Even if you weren't there, you can reply to this question. (Repeats question.)

Subject. Yes, Yes, black deer is eating.

Experimenter. Why do you say. black deer eating?

Subject. Because black deer always walk the whole day in the woods and eats green leaves. Then he rests a little and gets up again to eat.

There is an obvious error. In the test there is no common view about the logical correctness of the output. To give the answer, he seeks to rely on any facts, and when the experimenter refuses to help him in search of such facts, he invents them.

Another example from the same study.

Experimenter. If Flume or Yakalo drink the cane juice, the headman of the village is angry. Flymo not drinking cane juice. Yakalo drinking cane juice. Whether angry, the headman of the village?

Subject. People are not angry with other people.

The experimenter repeats task.

Subject. The headman of the village that day was not angry.

Experimenter. The village headman was not angry? Why?

Subject. Because he doesn't like Flume.

Experimenter. He doesn't like Flume? Tell me why?

Subject. Because when Flymo drinking cane juice is bad. Therefore, the headman of the village gets angry when Flume does. And when Yakalo sometimes drink the cane juice, he's not doing anything people. He goes and goes to bed. So people do not have any baggage. But those who drink of the juice of the cane and begins to fight, the headman can't tolerate them in the village."

The subject has in mind is likely to any specific people or simply invented them. The first parcel he threw and replaced it with another assertion: people are not angry with other people. He then entered the new data concerning the behaviour Flymo and Yakalo. The response of the test subject in an experimental task was wrong. But it was the result of logical reasoning based on the new parcels.

For analysis tasks in the first experiment, reformulate it so that was identified logical connections of statements: "If he eats the spider that eats well as a deer; if the deer eats, and then eats the spider; spider eats; hence, deer also eat." There are three parcels. Whether the stems of two of them: "If you eat the spider, the deer also eats" and "Spider eating" conclusion "Deer eating"? Of course. The reasoning goes according to the already mentioned scheme: "if there be first, second; is the first; hence, there is a second". It is a logical law. The correctness of this reasoning depends, of course, carried everything in the forest that there was in this subject, etc.

The more complicated the scheme, according to which there is reasoning to the second problem: "If Flume or Yakalo drink the cane juice, the headman of the village is angry. Flymo not drinking cane juice. Yakalo drinking cane juice. Whether angry, the headman of the village?" Apart from specific content, identify the scheme of reasoning: "if there is first or second, then a third; first, but there are two; therefore, there is a third". This scheme is a logical law, n, then the reasoning is correct. The scheme is similar specified before the "if have the first, i.e. second; is the first; hence, there is a second". The only difference is that as a "first" in more complex reasoning suggests two alternatives, one of which immediately ruled out"

Explanation: Actually this feature is cumulative and actually includes all the other characteristics mentioned above (they were considered separately only for clarity), and therefore is the most reliable. All the many logical errors that can be made to consider impossible, because they, like human stupidity, is infinite and therefore the above provides just a few examples of such errors. Otherwise, applying this characteristic you just need to check the progress of the discussions and reasoning to the matching logic.

Reliability characteristic: extremely high

What else should I remember debating with an idiot.

As a rule, the idiot thinks he's won the discussion, if you first stop to discuss with him, i.e. to respond to his idiotic statements and refute them. And you still likely will stop doing it first, the force of law Shapiro, modestly named me in honor of me. And this law States that 'the statement idiotic statements requires much less effort than his consistent and reasoned refutation and moreover, sometimes this denial is impossible'. To understand why this is so should refer to the famous 'Russell's Teapot'. In 1952, Russell wrote:

'If I suggest that between the Earth and Mars around the Sun in an elliptic orbit the porcelain teapot, no one can refute my statement, especially if I gently add that the teapot is so small that is not visible to even the most powerful telescopes'

Can you imagine what kind of effort would require a refutation of such claims and that the present level of technological development of this rebuttal is impossible to implement?

And even in those cases when a refutation is possible, it requires incomparably monstrous effort compared to the effort required to carry out idiotic statements that you want to refute. Therefore, the option that you just physically can't disprove your opponent is an idiot and will have to stop the discussion is even possible.

And you absolutely will not help if you decide to require the opponent idiot that he proved his delusional assertion because it is elementary to prove his delusional claims lead equally delusional arguments and evidence, and this in turn means that you have to refute them. And this is not to mention that an idiot can easily use the method mentioned in the second sign of idiocy i.e. constant repetition (sometimes slightly modified) of his already refuted claims.

Based on this, an idiot according to my criteria the victory will always gain the upper hand over you in the debate. And therefore is it not better to reveal the idiot with the one above me signs immediately to send him to hell? So you will save a lot of time and effort.


Author: Maxim Shapiro


P. S. And remember, only by changing their consumption — together we change the world! ©

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