Why Smart People Disagree

Why is is that equally brilliant people draw differing conclusions on the same matter?  In economics, the capitalist argues with the socialist.  In politics, the conservative argues with the liberal.  In philosopher, the realist argues with the idealist. In theology, the Catholic argues with the Protestant.  And so on and so forth, ad infinitum.  Why is this? R.C. Sproul answers this in his teaching series called The Psychology of Atheism.  He gives four basic reasons why bright, intelligent thinkers disagree with one another:

  • Differing epistemologies (theories of knowledge, how you to know what you know)
  • Formal, logical errors
  • Factual errors
  • Prejudicial bias

Understanding this is really helpful in dialoguing with people with whom you disagree.  Knowing this allows you to zero in on the point of disagreement.  Furthermore, it helps you to chill out, understand people better,  and listen to what they are saying and carefully analyze it.

Of course, before you turn your guns on someone else you should first take a look at your own position. Is your theory of knowledge valid?  Are you making logical errors?  Are there errors of fact in what you're saying?  And are you biased one way or the other?

I hope to unpack these a bit more in upcoming posts.  Watch out!

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