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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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St. Augustine on Curiosity ***

There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity... It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.

- St. Augustine

***10/5/2013 - Note: this is probably a misquote, for the purpose of defaming St. Augustine.  I published it without any research as to its veracity, and I regret it.  He is a revered figure in Christianity and western culture, and whether we subscribe to his philosophy and views or not, everyone deserves at least to be described accurately. - James Carr.

'Cause I'm the Tax Man

What's next? Is nothing sacred in this world?

From BBC:

Sweden targets strippers for tax

Sweden's tax authorities are seeking the bare facts about webcam strippers' income, estimating that hundreds of Swedish women are dodging the law.

The search involves tax officials examining websites that feature Swedish strippers, in an effort to identify them and chase them for tax returns.

The tax loss is estimated at about 40m Swedish kronor (£3.3m) annually.

Project leader Dag Hardyson said 200 Swedish strippers had been investigated so far. He said the total could be 500.

"They are young girls, we can see from the photos. We think that perhaps they are not well informed about the rules," said Mr Hardyson, head of the tax authority's national project on internet trade.

The investigation into strippers is part of a wider tax project that includes online poker and fake trader locations.

Detective work

Mr Hardyson told BBC News that the strippers could be liable to pay ab…