This kind of argument is especially destructive to social discourse because it is inherently divisive. It is rarely effective against someone who knows his own mind and understands the reasons for his own position. It can be quite effective against the person who is undecided on an issue, appealing to his desire to appear intelligent to others. It is extremely effective in solidifying and whipping up an audience that is already in favor of the point being defended. To laugh at the opposition breeds a feeling of superiority over the poor benighted fools who have the misfortune of believing as they do. Thus, the feeling of superiority, the ego involved, becomes tied to the position held, so that to attack the position is to attack the ego of the one holding it, which will provoke a visceral response, for the attack is perceived as personal and not principled.