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Think your political opinions are the result of carefully reasoned thought? Think that everyone would agree with you if they just weren't so clueless? Think again! Big government vs small government, free market vs a regulated market, individual freedom vs group benefits, conservative vs liberal.... Political controversies sound like they're based on differences in philosophy or ideology or maybe just fact. But they're not. The differences are largely cultural. And, in particular, they’re based on how much a particular culture values empathy vs self-interest and fairness vs social stability.

We're all a product of the different cultural influences acting on us, via a property called neuro-plasticity. This makes us see what we expect to see. Literally. We don't just see the same things and consciously think about them differently, we actually see them differently. And unconsciously value the same things differently. With this in mind, we can get to the core of any issue, understanding why we feel strongly about an issue, and also why others feel the way they do.

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