Steven made the following comment at Chizumatic recently: “The fact that you and I disagree about something doesn’t mean you know more about it than I do. Sometimes people who have exactly the same body of knowledge will disagree anyway.” He correctly notes that I am a disciple of this axiom. In fact, I even launched a blog dedicated to that idea. The blog, Super-rational, makes reference to a very interesting experiment run by Douglas Hoftstadter, a variation of a single-shot Prisoner’s Dilemma. That blog is really structured as an extended discussion, between contributors as carefully filtered as the participants in DH’s priginal experiment. I consider the blog itself to be a meta-discussion on the statement above – and the statement above to be self-referential in a sense because the point it makes is itself an unprovable statement, to which different observers will come to different conclusions!
Ultimately, why do people disagree? Because we never are able to truly have the same body of working facts? Or because of a deeper flaw with the very process of reason itself?