Yes, I do think there's a point. I do think people can change their minds.
I change my mind.
I argue hard because I want to LOSE. I can test my beliefs and my thinking against people who think otherwise, and I can hope to be convinced by them and switch sides, because then my outlook has been improved.
Evolution of competing philosophies by natural selection can only happen if I cram different ones into the same head and see which eats the other.
Think about all those dudes who were certain the world was flat, or that draining your patient's blood was really good for them, or that eplipetics were possessed by demons. Or the people who think communism is flawless, or that nuclear power is an unalloyed evil.
Think of all those things that are clearly wrong on a blazing, fundamental level, while the people who believe(d) them somehow walk(ed) around without noticing.
Now think about all the things you believe. What are the chances that you have managed to be perfectly right about all of them? That you have not one belief that future generations will scoff at? That you don't hold on to something as obviously wrong as (pick anything you think is obviously wrong)? All of those other people, convinced of something that is critically, laugably wrong - what are the chances that you don't suffer from the same disease? What are the chances that you are the one, perfect human?
The chances are pretty much nothing.
SOMETHING YOU BELIEVE IS UTTERLY, FUNDAMENTALLY, WRONG.
...probably lots of things. Maybe most things.
That's why I like to read and discuss stuff on this forum - a lot of smart people believe things that are frequently contrary to what I believe. I want them to convince me, or at least for my own belief system to have had a good test. I don't want to find a group of people who agree with me and engage in a textual circle-jerk. What's the point?
And that's why I get frustrated when people don't want to address the points, and just want to throw insults or one-liners. How the hell am I going to see if you actually have a firmer grip on reality than I do, if you won't actually explain yourself? If I point out what I think is a flaw in your reasoning, this is as much an opportunity for you to show me why it's not a flaw, as it is an opportunity for you to reconsider your own opinion.
It is NOT an insult.
I am guilty of sloppy reasoning, and unsupportable positions. Everyone is. It is not an insult to point that out to me. You are doing me a FAVOUR.
I mean, why else are people here? Are some people really just trying to show other people how smart they are, or looking for their beliefs to be vindicated by faceless strangers? Are people just looking for an echo-chamber?
What's the point?
PS: but I need to use more smilies, because everone ends up thinking I'm a barely-suppressed inferno of homicidal rage.
PPS: and I also need to learn how to NOT write like a complete wanker. This is made more difficult by the fact that I AM a complete wanker, but think I can do it if I apply myself...