When we feel like we’ve got a strong, rational argument for our own thinking, any different opinion appears to be obviously ill-reasoned, or even sinister. The result can be an illusion of superiority over other people. Indeed each person thinks they are less biased and less conformist than the rest of the group.
Because we are so confident of our beliefs, we experience three reactions when someone fails to share our views:
RESPONSE 1 – ASSUMPTION OF IGNORANCE: the other party clearly lacks the necessary information. If he knew what you know, he would be of the same opinion. Political activist think this way: they believe they can win others over through enlightenment.
RESPONSE 2 – ASSUMPTION OF IDIOCY: the other person has the necessary information, but his mind is underdeveloped. He cannot draw the obvious conclusions. In other words, he’s a moron. This reaction is particularly popular among academicians and intellectuals.
RESPONSE 3 – ASSUMPTION OF MALICE: your counterpart has the necessary information – he even understands the debate – but it is deliberatively confrontational. He has evil intentions. This how many religious leaders and extremists treat disbelievers: if they do not agree, they must be servant of devil. This is how, antivax advocates and conspiracy theorists say. “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him.” (Cardinal Richelieu, 17th century)
Nothing is more convincing than your own believes. We are drunk on our own ideas. We’re great at spotting biases in others, but absolutely incompetent at finding them in ourselves. Even if we know exactly what to look for and we’ve got a ton of intellectual humility, noticing the effects of our own biases on our own thoughts is like looking for colored glasses while wearing them.
– Rolf Dobelli, The Art of Thinking Clearly