If everyone possessed a rapier wit and the open mindedness to accept when they are wrong, perhaps it wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s easy to see how mocking peoples ideas to their face may be perceived as bullying to an audience and frankly who likes a bully?
It’s easy to simply mock what we know to be as absurd ideas and I’ll be the first to admit I’ve done it many times over many years but I found I got frustrated at how ineffective it all seemed when it came to encouraging others to think critically for themselves.
Personally I try very hard to not just flat out laugh at ideas and beliefs I disagree with on the outset, as the believer and audience may not appreciate that I am merely laughing at the belief, rather than believer. On a good day I encourage them to talk about what they believe, why they believe it and how those beliefs came about. It usually doesn’t take long for the ridiculousness to become readily apparent, whether to the believer or an audience. Also pointed and informed questioning tends to help that process along. I try to explain exactly what I think is wrong with their reasoning and lay out why I disagree, rather than simply disagreeing, but we all can easily slip into emotive ridicule, particularly when we’ve encountered the belief 1000 times before and are incredibly confident it’s mental!
I’m not saying do what I do or you’re a (insert trivial generalisation), or even that I’m consistent with this approach, but I try and I aim to be despite falling short on the odd occasion. However when I conciously attempt to do this I feel better and the entire interaction seems to have a better chance of fulfilling my goal of encouraging & fostering critical thought.
Jayson D Cooke