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Looking for reinforcement

Once we have formed an opinion, whether it was through indoctrination or investigation, our natural tendency is to look for supporting evidence and reject disagreeing evidence. We are always looking for reinforcement.
Why do we do this?
Why does the liberal read only liberal publications, while the conservative reads only conservative ones?
Why do atheists avoid reading "spiritual" literature, while religious people avoid reading skeptical or critical thinking literature?
Why do believers in supernatural or paranormal events always believe reports of these events, while skeptics always disbelieve? Each without knowing the facts?
Why do we find it so uncomfortable to read or discuss opposing viewpoints?
Why do we tend to form friendships mainly with people who mostly agree with us?
Why do nations do the same thing as individuals? Why don't governments employ critical thinkers instead of political ideologues?
Why can't a conservative be in favor of a woman's right to have an abortion? Why can't a liberal be opposed?
Why do we apply labels to everyone, including ourselves, and feel the need to stay in our assigned categories?
Why do we judge others as intelligent or ignorant, based on whether or not they agree with us?
Why are we so down on the ignorant, by the way? Aren't we all ignorant? I find that the more I learn, the more ignorant I feel, because I see the vast body of knowledge out there that is more than I could possibly hope to learn in my lifetime.
It seems that our self-identity is tied up with our beliefs, and any challenge to our beliefs is perceived as an attack, and we feel compelled to defend ourselves. We start to dislike the person who challenges our point of view, and avoid discussions with him or her.

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From BBC:

Sweden targets strippers for tax

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