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Why is it so difficult for people to disagree, without being disagreeable, anymore?

More than half my friends are Conservatives and a full two-thirds are believers. We seem to have no problem discussing issues of the day, or religion, without breaking into pesonal mudslinging. Yet, more and more I see this is becoming the exception rather than the rule. Are we getting more polarized as a society or am I just noticing it more?

EricTrommater 9 Feb 20

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There are several reasons for this. One is that you might be more aware of the situation at large. Another is something that another poster mentioned: the anonymity of the internet is "allowing" people to say things that in the past, they would have kept to themselves. This spills over into "real" life.

However, I also think that Trumpuss and the current administration have also "allowed" people to say things that they have always thought but not verbalized. It is why neo-Nazis and other hate groups are more prominent. We might be getting more polarized, but people feel that they do not have to be PC any longer, and that includes the used to be in the closet haters.


I don't know why anyone would have a conservative for a friend. Just being around one of them is physically and mentally painful. They just keep doubling down on stupid and never seem to hit bottom.

MarqG Level 5 Feb 24, 2018

Why would you say this rather than answering the question? He was not asking for recommendations for friends. A bit off topic, eh?

@Gwendolyn2018 Not at all. His problem is a direct result of having conservatives as friends. Lie down with dogs get up with fleas.

@MarqG But it is--he did not ask for advice on his friends; in fact, he states that he has no problem with HIS friends, but sees this as a growing issue around him. Also, claiming that all conservatives are pains in the derriere is a misnomer; grouping any segment of society as being all the same is stereotyping.

@Gwendolyn2018 Its self evident Gwen. Its not like I'm calling out a diverse group. And I'm not calling them a "pain in the derriere". I'm merely pointing out the medical studies that show that conservatives have hyper developed amygdalas (emotional center aka "lizard brains" ) while their anterior singulet cortexes (higher thinking regions) have atrophied from a lack of use. This is peer reviewed science with more than 90 supporting studies. Some of which included brain scans. Glad I could clear up your confusion.

@MarqG List the sources. And thanks for the red herring thrown to my comment about him not asking about advice about his friends.

@Gwendolyn2018 If a guy sticks his dick in a light socket then complains of the results how is it a red herring to ask why he's sticking his dick in a light socket?

Here are the sourced I referred to. This should answer his question, " Are we getting more polarized as a society or am I just noticing it more?" I'm not off topic at all.


Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals had more gray matter at least in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity. The results are not that surprising as they fit in with conclusions from [more than 90] other studies.

Here are 4 more.

Scott Eidelman'
Christian S. Crandall
Jeffrey A. Goodman
John C. Blanchar

The authors test the hypothesis that low-effort thought promotes political conservatism.

In Study 1, alcohol intoxication was measured among bar patrons; as blood alcohol level increased, so did political conservatism (controlling for sex, education, and political identification).

In Study 2, participants under cognitive load reported more conservative attitudes than their no-load counterparts.

In Study 3, time pressure increased participants’ endorsement of conservative terms.

In Study 4, participants considering political terms in a cursory manner endorsed conservative terms more than those asked to cogitate; an indicator of effortful thought (recognition memory) partially mediated the relationship between processing effort and conservatism.

Together these data suggest that political conservatism may be a process consequence of low-effort thought; when effortful, deliberate thought is disengaged, endorsement of conservative ideology increases.

In yet another study, American neuroscientist and director of the Human Neuroimaging Lab and Computational Psychiatry Unit at the Virginia Tech, P. Read Montague and his coauthors wrote that their results "invite the provocative claim that neural responses to nonpolitical stimuli (like contaminated food or physical threats) should be highly predictive of abstract political opinions (like attitudes toward gun control and abortion)." Indeed, watching the brain's reaction to a single disgusting image was sufficient to guess each subject's political orientation. Montague said in the press release, "I haven't seen such clean predictive results in any other functional imaging experiments in our lab or others."

Again we find the overdeveloped conservative amygdala (fear center) overwhelm their atrophied anterior cerebral cortex (higher thinking region). It's interesting to see how all these diverse studies (more than 90 of them) all tie together and support each other.

Liberals engage their anterior singulet cortex to properly understand problems so they can figure out proper solutions. That is the "nuanced thinking" that liberals do that conservatives find so disturbing.

Conservatives don't use the higher thinking region of their brains. Instead they rely on their amygdala, aka lizard brains, and react without thinking. When conservatives talk about a "gut feeling telling them what is right" that is their lizard brain at work. Hence your difficulties. And your results!

As it says above, there have been more than 90 studies on this topic, and they ALL say the same thing. Conservative brains simply do not function correctly. That's why they're conservatives. They have put so little thought into their beliefs that the higher thinking regions of their brains have actually atrophied!

Liberals could think more like conservatives. But we don't want to stay drunk all of the time.

In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children's temperaments. They weren't even thinking about political orientation.

Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects' childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. They found arresting patterns. As kids, liberals had developed close relationships with peers and were rated by their teachers as self-reliant, energetic, impulsive, and resilient. People who were conservative at age 23 had been described by their teachers as easily victimized, easily offended, indecisive, fearful, rigid, inhibited, and vulnerable at age 3. The reason for the difference, the Blocks hypothesized, was that insecure kids most needed the reassurance of tradition and authority, and they found it in conservative politics.

And, in conclusion, I will add, even the few intelligent conservatives left in the world think that conservatives are morons.


Buckley's National Review, where I was the literary editor through the 1990s, remains as vital and interesting as ever. But more characteristic of conservative leadership are figures on TV, radio and the Internet who make their money by stirring fears and resentments. With its descent to baiting blacks, Mexicans and Muslims, its accommodation of conspiracy theories and an increasing nastiness and vulgarity, the conservative movement has undergone a shift toward demagoguery and hucksterism. Once the talk was of "neocons" versus "paleocons." Now we observe the rule of the crazy-cons.

And,BTW, Hillary supporters are not real liberals. Oh, sure, they tend to be socially liberal. But they are fiscal conservatives. Many of them voted for Ronald Reagan. And 25% of Hillary's supporters chose John McCain over Obama. So. really, they are more like libertarians than liberals. Only to a lesser degree. With Clinton supporters running the Democratic Party we really don't need a Republican Party.

@MarqG You lost me at "If a guy sticks his dick in a light socket then complains of the results how is it a red herring to ask why he's sticking his dick in a light socket?" Not worth the effort. Be well.


I think it's a combination of things.

Internet anonymity and lack of accountability, which embolden people to say and do things they would not have done a couple of decades ago, is a factor. The current political situation is a factor, as are political ideologies that are being whipped into a frenzy and infused with an "us or them" mentality.

I even see it on this site, where some people feel that their non-belief in religion makes them superior to others, and they have no compunction in attacking those who believe differently.

Others are simply trolls or troublemakers, and love to stir up any trouble they can.

Another factor, imo, is overpopulation. I remember the rat studies back in the day showing that the more crowded and larger the population, the more intolerant they became of the other rats around them. I believe this applies to the human population, as well.

marga Level 7 Feb 23, 2018



He's right that it is a difficult topic, by Nov 2016 anyone who thought otherwise shouldn't have voted.


If feel you have to defend a point by being abusive and aggressive, in my opinion you've already lost the debate.


Disagreeable people, that is those so intolerant of opposing viewpoints that they must attack whoever expresses them, are herd thinkers. They are emotionally invested in spoon-fed ideologies and it doesn't matter whether they are Left or Right wing. They fear reproach from their ideological overseers and peers. Individuals who think independently anticipate differences of opinion and generally show more respect for them. It is, however, difficult to nearly impossible to endure the ad hominem reactions of hooved sycophants for long without the impulse to retaliate in kind. We ARE ALL HUMAN...


I do think we are getting more polarized. I can’t remember a time I got this angry about an administration. I thought it was bad with Bush and the war but for some reason I’m even angrier with this administration! Go figure! But I certainly agree about discussing. Always hated people that said don’t talk about religion or politics. What’s left? But yes. Civally please. You’re right. It’s hard though. I’m working on it.

Norie Level 5 Feb 21, 2018

The clue might lie in the 'for some reason'.


Well it is pretty natural as humans not to want to be wrong. So when confronted with a different opinion or belief, a lot of us become abrasive.


I have been experiencing the same thing. I think it's Because more and more people look for prefabricated ideas and opinions such as Facebook posts and they adopt it as their opinion, then they can't debate it Because it wasn't their original thought to begin with. Just a theory


Defensiveness and lack of respect for people. Too many people attack the person instead of the belief. For example, I feel I'm surrounded by intelligent people with stupid beliefs. Not stupid people. Plus, never tell someone their beliefs are matter what you're thinking.


Seems to be so much fear, anger, disrespect, and intolerance.

Too many are hairtrigger loaded with fight !


I don't know


My opinion is that since debating and the debate club has left highschool, people come adult life without any skills in expressing their point, stqaying on target, listenng well and walking away still disagreeing but with satisfaction.

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