Effective training in critical thinking and cognitive debiasing may not be enough to cure identity-protective cognition, in which people cling to whatever opinion enhances the glory of their tribe and their status within it. This is the disease with the greatest morbidity in the political realm, and so far scientists have misdiagnosed it, pointing to irrationality and scientific illiteracy instead of the myopic rationality of the Tragedy of the Belief Commons. -Stephen Pinker
If we understand what Stephen Pinker says above, then we can understand why we argue and get upset over our beliefs. I will briefly explain what this compact quote means. First, all of the topics to the upper-right have to do with topics that can ruffle our feathers. Why? This is because our values, beliefs, and interests often relfect our identity. At the very least, our identity is who we think we are and what group of people we think we belong to. And our values, beliefs, and interests are an aspect to our identity that can be easily validated or threatened.
When the brain considers something to be part of itself, whether it’s a body part or a belief, then it protects it in the same way. Dr. Jonas Kaplan
This entire page is devoted to our hot buttons. I do not think scientists know precisely why these topics make us emotional. It most certainly has to do with our need to protect our self-worth, identity, being right, and our tribe. I am leaning towards that being right is tied to more than just our ego. When I learn that someone believes something that I do not, I can often feel threatened, alienated, or angry. Why should it matter that a co-worker believes that we are descendants of Adam and Eve? There can be consequences for our beliefs, but usually our day-to-day realities are not affected by what someone else believes. It must be because it is linked to something bigger, like their identity or tribe. It may be a signal that they are grouped with that tribe over there. Conversely, sharing values binds us together, so we can cooperate with in-group members and compete against the Other. By “tribes”, I mean a group of people who share the same values, beliefs, and interests.