Children absorb the views of their caregivers, incorporating parental prejudice into their basic attitudes and approach to the world. Parental bias helps to instill “tribalism,” the common tendency to view another group as inferior or less worthy than one’s own group, into the minds of their children.
Research into the effects of authoritarian approaches toward childrearing used in many fundamentalist or abusive households shows disturbing results. The harsh discipline, conditional affection, and externally-instilled shame-based moralism have measurably detrimental effects on a child’s capacity to develop an intrinsic conscience and compassion for members of “out” groups.
Absolutist and authoritarian traditions are destructive: they reduce human potential and innovation, and create rigid thinking and ignorance, closed and insular systems, bigotry and fanaticism.
Extreme beliefs are a matter of degree, because they involve the same processes by which the human brain normally processes stimuli, categorizes, prioritizes, generates a sense of meaning and a narrative about the world to live by.
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