Common Facts and Different Views
Holding different views is one quality that distinguishes humans from other animals. This quality has allowed humans to be able to present new ideas that have enabled them to advance as a species. It is interesting, however, to observe two people expressing different views even in the presence of common facts and truths.
Expressing different points of view, rationale, and reasoning is considered an advanced method of interaction compared to the basic instinct nature of other animals. When different views are expressed, however, humans can also unintentionally revert back to a more primitive form of interactions driven by their defensive need to protect their thoughts and beliefs against the influence of others. In this defensive state, the brain switches to a survival mode and more resources are allocated to defend oneself from the perceived external threat.
When the brain is in survival mode, defensive hormones which are mostly associated with negative emotions take center stage, clouding out other parts of the brain. This is a reason why any normal conversation can suddenly turn into an argument. It is also the reason why political conversations have little or no middle ground. When defending your views, the brain's survival mode considers opposing views as genuine external threats, failure to deal with that threat is considered a failure to protect oneself. As a result of this defensive state of the brain, the facts presented if not in agreement with your beliefs will also be considered as threats.
When the brain is in survival mode, it is considered to be in a primitive state, this is because the need to ensure survival will be of paramount importance, basic survival instincts will overshadow logic and reasoning. A hungry lion driven by the need to feed will attack a giraffe five times its size, despite the low odds of success. A cowardly dog will try to bite its way out of a corner. A bird will risk a poisonous snake bite in an attempt to protect its eggs. Bees will sacrifice their lives to protect the hive. These seemly illogical acts of survival are designed to ensure the animal's continued existence.
When confronted with an opposing view, a human brain falls into a defensive state to protect its thoughts and beliefs, the survival mode of the brain is also triggered. In this state, protecting oneself from the perceived threat overwrites parts of the brain associated with reason and rationale. Shutting down parts of the brain associated with reason and rationale might sound like a flawed human design, but it protects the brain from acquiring elements that might be considered toxic and morally corrupting thoughts. This is the reason two people in a heated argument usually display a lot of narrow mindedness, they are basically protecting themselves from an external threat in the form of an opposing view. The tools used to protect themselves may take the form of presenting their own views to counteract or neutralize the opposing views, or in some extreme cases they might manifest into physical body movements, and finally, they may resort to violence.
A common fact presented to two people holding opposing views will not be enough to harmonize the two views. This is because when one is defending a thought or a belief, the brain is triggered into a defensive and survival mode, any facts presented that seem foreign will be considered threats. This is a common feature in any form of argument, whether political, scientific or religious. A religious scripture written in the same language will be interpreted differently by two opposing religious factions. Scientific figures will be interpreted to mean different things by two opposing scientists. A political leader's conduct will be viewed differently by different voters.
This is also the reason why people prefer to listen to or watch something they agree with. This triggers positive emotions, it does not put them in a defensive state, their thoughts and beliefs are given a false sense of security. It does not matter whether it is fake news or beliefs, as long as it agrees with your thoughts you are likely to defend it.
A common fact presented to two people holding opposing views will not be enough to harmonize the two views.— AL
Leaders Exploiting Different Views and Disregarding Common Facts
The defensive state that is triggered by an opposing view is what political and religious leaders use to control their followers. This is evident in the politics of fear and the religious teachings of good and evil.
Religious and political leaders use opposing views as a litmus test designed to expose vulnerabilities in their target audience. They are well aware that a defensive state is created in response to a perceived attack on someone's faith or political ideology resulting in a desperate need to protect oneself. In this desperate state of survival, the mind is more susceptible to an idea that presents a much-needed sense of security. This is the reason why religious leaders preach prosperity to their followers and doom and destruction to anyone holding an opposing view. Attacking this religious teaching is a personal attack on someone holding on to that belief, and they will defend that belief even in the presence of opposing facts, their survival is perceived to depend on it.
This is also the reason why politicians usually present a message of doom before they are elected, and presenting themselves as saviors once they are in power. It is also evident in the politics of fear. Constantly preaching fear of an impending disaster will trigger a desperate need for survival. If a politician offers a way out of that impending disaster, he will gain a large following sorely focused on their need to survive. They will defend that political ideology even in the presence of facts.
Understanding Different Views
A conversation involving different views is a conversation involving two individuals trying to protect their thoughts and beliefs. When presented with an opposing view, in as much as it is important to protect our own thoughts and beliefs, it is also important to acknowledge that our defensive state of mind is designed to protect our thoughts. The views and actions we present will also reflect that defensive state of mind. When the other person is showing a lack of reasoning, it is their defensive state trying to protect their thoughts and beliefs. Knowing this will allow us to take the initiative and walk away from an argument before the more primitive part of the brain devoid of reasoning and rationale takes over.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 AL