One of the interesting things about the fun and games surrounding commentary on Camping's recent prediction of the Rapture was how cheap most of the self-satisfied response to it was -- it was really just an opportunity for everyone to pat themselves on the back over how clever they were in comparison with those stupid people over there, and little more, and what could possibly be easier? But as with everything else, there is no shame in being wrong, only, at times, in being unreasonable in one's reasoning, and very few people in the jeering crowd showed any indications of having the faintest clue where Camping went wrong in his reasoning. There was nothing rational about the response to Camping from most quarters, although there were some nice exceptions here and there. It was largely cheap imitation of rationality.
Ian Hacking, building on a claim made by Gilbert Ryle, likes to say that we really only use 'irrational,' not 'rational,' as an evaluative word. This, taken as a straight claim, is obviously false, but it does address the genuine truth that our real worry is often to make sure that we are not in the definitely-irrational camp, which is a standard sign that social status is in view. You get similar patterns with fitness and virtue and piety.
The problem is that every such concept, regardless of its inner logic, is under pressure as relevant to social status; and this pressure combines with two key features. (1) Really having these things is very difficult; and (2) it's the appearance of these things that really indicate that you are not in the outcast group -- any indicator of anything has to appear in some way. Thus the pressure is to focus on the appearance rather than the substance. People would rather appear to be fit than to be fit; people would rather appear to be pious than to be pious; and people would rather appear to be just than to be just. If you can manufacture the appearance without the hard work of building up the substance, you get all the social status benefits -- at the very least you avoid being in the outcast group. This privileges cheap imitation over the real thing, and encourages people to look for comparisons that will make them look good to others (or even to themselves).
It's this that we really saw in play in the whole Camping incident: a large group of people found an occasion for putting themselves in the Rational Camp without having to do any rational work, and so it was all an elaborate display of social quality, like apes engaging in dominance displays.
It's important not to go too far with this. The mere fact of the display is obviously not evidence that there is no substance to it. We are social creatures, and reason itself is partly social in nature, and therefore there's no basis for saying that social life should be ignored entirely when it comes to rationality. Likewise, rationality really is genuinely difficult at times, and therefore it's not a question of eliminating these chest-thumping displays entirely -- everyone engages in them sometimes, even if for no other reason than we don't have the time and energy to handle each and every thing that comes up. The kind of rationality involved in these cases is practical rather than theoretical, but it is a genuine kind of rationality. But we should, I suggest, be realistic about people going out of their way to mock people for being irrational without providing any serious argument, especially when they can do so without any detriment to themselves: going out of their way to do it is an expenditure of time and energy, which means that lack of time or energy is not the reason for lack of argument. It's not so much that there's anything fundamentally wrong with it -- the mocking can be morally vicious, and sometimes is, but it need not be, and one form of it is just a sort of mental horseplay among friends -- as that we should not pretend that there's anything more to it than posturing. It shows that you can puff up those feathers and shake that tail, and that you can talk the talk; it doesn't show that you are anything more than a weak bird with puffed-out feathers, or that you can walk the walk.