7 reasons you should never argue with a ignorant person (and what to do instead)

Arguments are inevitable, but who you argue with is partly your choice.

Let’s face it: sooner or later you’re going to have a disagreement with someone.

But I want to strongly encourage you to not even bother arguing with an ignorant person, and here’s why…

1) An ignorant person will not listen to you

An argument is ultimately still a conversation.

Arguments can be worthwhile and interesting if they lead to some kind of new realizations, breakthroughs or clarifications.

Even arguing with somebody where zero compromises are made can make you realize you’re mistaken or correct in ways you didn’t realize.

But arguments are still a dialog.

Whether it’s over something big or small, you’ll want to make your voice heard, especially when you’re certain somebody is mistaken or misguided.

There’s just no point in trying, however, when you’re talking to an ignorant person.

They’re not listening to you. They don’t give a sh*t. You’re wasting your time.

How do you know if they’re ignorant or just someone who disagrees with you?

After all, it’s easy to have confirmation bias and assume someone’s ignorant but they actually just don’t agree with you.

So, let’s proceed to point two…

2) How to tell if someone’s actually ignorant (or just disagrees with you)

The best way to tell if somebody is actually ignorant is to agree on foundational reality.

In other words, you need to agree on basic facts or commonly agreed upon principles to have a discussion.


I enjoy philosophical and ideological discussions, but recall a conversation with a man who I met where he kept completely moving the goalposts.

He was around 65 at the time, I was a year younger, 37.

He was living in a commune with alternative-minded people and I assumed he might have something unique and wise to share with me!

So we got right into it…

We discussed how far freedom should extend, or morality, for example, and he claimed that morality is just a construct and there is no right or wrong.

OK, interesting, I’d heard this opinion many times including from philosophers like Nietzsche, so I wanted to hear more.

Let’s explore that…

I asked if he would extend that to things like murder or violence against innocent people?

It’s all “subjective,” he said. Right or wrong can’t extend past our own understanding of it and there’s no ultimate arbiter such as God, nature or karma.

OK, what about if somebody provably harms an innocent person for no understandable reason apart from a desire to harm them, is that not wrong by some universal standard?

He paused for a moment, annoyed…

Then he flipped the script…

Well, he told me, reality is actually just a self-generated matrix and not real anyway.


I sighed and tried to find a way to get out of the debate as soon as possible.

So the whole discussion didn’t matter anyway since we were all just imagining our life in a reality simulation that wasn’t actually happening beyond anything in our own mind?

It’s not about whether I agreed or not, it’s that he’d just switched the topic of the debate to invalidate the whole topic in the first place with a statement that was unprovable anyway.

As I pointed out to him, if nothing was real or meant anything other than what we subjectively imagine it to mean, then we weren’t even actually having the conversation and I wasn’t actually saying good luck and hanging up.

But I was.

Why was he ignorant? Because he wouldn’t accept the parameters of a topic or the basic fact that (as far as we know) we were both talking and existed in some form that could be considered “real.”

There is no point in debating or arguing with ignorant people, and you can tell somebody is ignorant when they constantly deny foundational facts of reality or care more about what they want to believe than about what’s provably or arguably true.

3) They’re ignorant for a reason

Now, are we all living in a simulation?

Some have suggested it, and ever since the gnostics and before it’s certainly been an ongoing theme.

But to take large moral questions and then debate them up until the point of losing the debate and then backtrack to “nothing’s real anyway” is the behavior of a petulant child.

If you want to discuss whether anything is real, discuss that, don’t use it as a fallback to try to one-up people who want to talk about actual subjects that are important.

So, let’s dig into this: ignorance.

The word ignorant comes from the word ignore.

An ignorant person is often thought of as somebody who’s stupid, but that’s not necessarily the case.

Ignorant people are those with prejudice or a lack of knowledge.

An ignorant person is somebody who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, sometimes by choice.

They have either chosen to ignore facts and experiences they don’t consider important or have been in a position where those facts and realities of life haven’t been presented to them or have been distorted in how they were presented to them.

In the first case, you arguing with them will just feed into the cycle of them believing you represent incorrect and unimportant points of view.

In the second case they will generally take the new information or perspective in a hostile way.

If you were ignorant and didn’t know things, how would you respond to somebody letting you know that?

Likely you would respond to it as an attack on your intelligence.

Which brings us to point four…

4) An argument isn’t the place for a teach-in

argue 1 7 reasons you should never argue with a ignorant person (and what to do instead)

When you’re getting into an argument, it isn’t the time to tell somebody the facts or educate them on a subject.

That’s because this will be taken as an attack or a correction of them and part of the argument.

Even if you’re merely trying to provide background to what you’re talking about, an ignorant person will take that as an attack.

I tried to tell the guy I mentioned that, but it didn’t work.

“Whether or not anything is real, can we at least discuss it in the context of events and situations which appear to occur.”

Him: “What’s the point? It’s only real in your head.”

OK then.

Let’s take another example of how trying to teach someone basic facts or establish a starting premise they won’t agree to is a waste of time…

Say that you’re discussing the roots of the Great Depression.

The other person says that it was because the US went off the gold standard, but you explain that actually the US was still on the gold standard at that time.

“I don’t think so, man,” the guy says. “You’re definitely wrong.”

You insist several times and pull up an official encyclopedic entry about the US departure from the gold standard.

“Nah, that’s fake news. Just propaganda dude, come on, you’re smarter than that,” your conversational partner says.

This argument or debate has now reached an impasse.

The fact is the US went off the gold standard under President Nixon in 1971, and even arguments that it basically stopped by 1933 still don’t place it as the cause of the Great Depression.

No historian of any merit has ever argued that because it has no roots in basic reality.

At this point there’s not much more on that angle that you can do. The ignorant person won’t listen and tells you you’re wrong about an established fact.

It’s time to find someone new to talk to, because any further you go in this interaction will just result in further frustration, confusion and time wasting…

5) Arguing with ignorant people wastes valuable energy

The next of the key reasons you should never argue with a ignorant person is that it wastes your time and energy.

We all have a limited amount of gas in the tank, and spending it on useless discussions isn’t worth it.

Spending that energy on an honest disagreement or hearing from someone with a genuinely different perspective is absolutely worth it in some cases.

Even arguments that upset you can often be elucidating.

But arguments that just go in circles and don’t progress to any true clarity are an absolute waste of your energy.

They also often give the ignorant person juvenile enjoyment as they waste your time and energy with their antics.

As the playwright George Bernard Shaw memorably put it:

“I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.”

Are you here to provide free entertainment to a pig and get your clothes stained and muddy?

Nothing against pigs, but I know I’m not!

6) Arguing with ignorant people decreases your knowledge

I want to emphasize that arguing with ignorant people isn’t only pointless, it’s actively harmful.

Not only does it deplete your energy and time, it also can lead to genuine confusion and reduction in your knowledge and mental clarity.

When you engage extensively with ignorant people, you can get infected with their idiocy.

I wish there was a nicer way to say it but there’s not.

Somebody can reasonably tell you their opinion on various forms of cancer treatment and alternative methods they have had work for them or others.

But if they start telling you about how they are a white magician from another dimension who can heal cancer and has reference letters to  prove it (actual thing that happened to me in a youth hostel in Europe), then you are dealing with a:

There’s no real point in continuing that interaction, because any elements of truth that may exist in the spiritual side of cancer or healing it are going to be layered with endless layers of self-congratulatory bullsh*t.

Sadly, the same goes for many aspects of New Age and spiritual teachings, including deranged sites like Spirit Science.

These sites mix in true and profound insights with very deluded and bizarre teachings including about reality being a construct and life not being real.

When mixed with mental illness, alienation and psychedeics, the brew can be deadly.

In fact, the Spirit Science channel was part of the inspiration behind accused Highland Park mass killer Bobby Crimo (who went by “Awake” the rapper), in links partly uncovered by brilliant analyst BXBullett on her Odysee channel.

Ignorance isn’t just annoying or confusing. It’s delusional antics can literally kill people.

Spend too much time around it and you can get infected and start spreading it.

7) They will drag you down to their level!

married female coworker wants to sleep with you 7 reasons you should never argue with a ignorant person (and what to do instead)

This brings us to point seven:

When you argue and engage with an ignorant person you inevitably have to do one thing…

You have to cede them ground or grant them concessions.

Basically, you have to give them a pass on certain foundational errors or misunderstandings in order to continue the discussion.

Doing that is a mistake because it confuses you and leads to nothing useful.

OK, interesting, so you believe morality is subjective and nothing is real anyway. So, let’s assume it’s true nothing is real and we all have to ascend to the fifth dimension for anything to mean something or align us. Let’s assume starseed indigo individuals need to point the way to that, how would it work?

You’ve now granted a number of concessions to far out ideas that don’t really relate to any grounded or observable facts.

Plus, when you find out some of the adherents of things like Capital Steez (such as Crimo) believe that he’s a god who will return in the year 2047 at the end of the world…

…And that cataclysmic violence may be necessary to accelerate that second coming…

You may not be quite so eager to continue accepting ridiculous and delusional propositions as the basis of the conversation.

Not all 47 cult members believe in violence or psychotic breakdowns as part of the process, but a surprising amount do!

What to do instead of arguing with an ignorant person

Instead of arguing with an ignorant person, try the following approaches.

Give them the facts and walk away

I strongly recommend against arguing with an ignorant person.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t give them the facts.

Recommend them a book that establishes starting facts. Mention a thinker or two who have already disproven fully what they say.

Warn them that their ideas aren’t based on reality and could be harmful.

Then walk away.

You have better things to do with your time.

If they do express a later interest in discussing a subject or arguing where they have accepted a starting frame of reality or parameter, you can choose whether to re-engage at that time.

But do not descend to their level or accept false premises to a debate.

Argue with people who actually care about the truth

Instead of discussing and arguing things with ignorant people, discuss and argue with those who wants the truth.

What is the truth?

It’s a verifiable fact or shared experience that can’t be argued against.

For example, we all need certain nutrients to physically survive.

We could argue a lot about exactly which nutrients those are or the best form to receive them, organic food, pesticides, diets, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or many other topics.

But we can at least start by agreeing humans in their present non-cyborg form need food!

(“But actually maybe once we ascend to our true form in the Pleiades and escape the Zio-run matrix of this prison planet we won’t need the junky nonsense and low energy toxicity of food, didn’t you know?”)

Yeah… So as I was saying…

Argue and talk with people who want the truth and accept basic facts.

The bottom line

Argue with anyone you’d like. I’m not in charge of who you talk to.

Many engagements end up yielding fruit and lead to interesting insights.

But I’d strongly advise against arguing with ignorant people.

Correct them, admonish them gently and tell them the facts, but don’t bother spending much time on it.

True ignorance feeds on itself, and even your extended disagreement just empowers it.

Recommend a book, tell the real facts and then walk away.

Ignorant people are everywhere, but the less you feed into their false statements the more they will begin to wake up to reality.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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