Someone on Facebook with whom I often have disagreements recently opened with ” Oh good God, Wendell! Why do you want to argue about everything.” . It occurred to me that that is an interesting question so here is my answer.
In short it is that I only argue about things that you post which are factually and or logically incorrect. In more detail I ‘discuss’ these things for three reasons;
1) I personally want to live my life taking actions that create the result I desire as much as possible. To do this it is essential that my understanding of the world (my beliefs) be as accurate possible. I have over the years accumulated a set of things that I believe to be true. Because of confirmation bias and selective reading (things all humans do ) the only effective way for me to eliminate my false beliefs is to discuss them with others. I do this with many people but the most important discussions are the ones with those who disagree with me. Those that agree and I will unconsciously ‘conspire’ to keep us in ignorance while my ‘enemies’ will do everything they can to prove me wrong. The net result of extended talks with people trying to ‘catch’ me is that I am incrementally able to advance my knowledge (when they are correct in proving me mistaken) and move closer toward my goal (which I will never 100% achieve) of believing in only things that are true.
2) As humans are social animals I live in a society with thousands, millions, billions of other humans. I and my family and loved ones and progeny are affected by the actions of those others and the everyone bases their decisions on their beliefs. Thus it is vitally important that I do all I can to indicate when other people hold beliefs which are not correct. When someone posts something indicating that GMO’s are bad it influences other people to take actions which are harmful to society and eventually myself and my own. I counter their posts with evidence to help other readers make an informed and more accurate decision as to their own beliefs.
3) I enjoy the intellectual challenge of the debate. I am not sure why exactly perhaps it is my competitive nature? I also get satisfaction from solving intellectual puzzles and sometimes it takes considerable thought to understand what logically is incorrect about some beliefs.