This entry was stimulated by the article 'Provocative Female Attire..' by Giovanni Dannato (from the now defunct www.inmalafide.com website), more accurately, the numerous derogatory, vitriolic comments (e.g. about penis size, shaming language and crude insults) that the article provoked. The people posting the insults probably didn't tend toward ideological the extremes, which is were aggressive behaviour stereotypically dwells (e.g. Islamic suicide bombers, PETA animal rights terrorists), yet it was they - the so-called moderate middle - who were throwing the insults at Giovanni. So why is there this level of vitriol? Presently, I can see three options.
Firstly, it is quite possible that the people (Followers) who are posting such remarks attacking the people who cast doubt upon their beliefs have not questioned these beliefs themselves, they have simply taken them wholesale from someone else, an authority figure or group that is present in their culture/sub culture (e.g. academics for atheists, church leaders for theists, news media for agnostics, nutritionists for fitness enthusiasts). This means that the attackers have not scrutinised or questioned these beliefs at all had they done so if they had tried to determine them for themselves. For example, Copernicus, when calculating the orbits of the planets repeated his calculations 77 times in order to make sure that his results were as accurate, truthful, as he could. He was making these calculations for the first time and so did not take the word of anyone else, but instead, worked the truth out for himself. In contradistinction to this, Followers take the beliefs of authority figures wholesale, without subjecting them to any scrutiny at all. When these Followers then have these beliefs scrutinized by another person, they are unwilling to permit such actions to occur, and indeed will be hostile to the actions. The hostility is there because the Follower has not built his beliefs from scratch, i.e. from nothing upward, he has been given them whole, ready made for consumption. Anyone who has not built their beliefs up from scratch has no experience of questioning their own beliefs and thus are fearful of the unknown. A person who has scrutinised their own beliefs to the extent that they have had to build up their own belief system have been through this process, and thus are more willing to accept that they are wrong, because they have been 'back to square one'.
Leaders can also be what Daniel Pozzner (of www.ampp.nu) called 'first handers' in that they have had first hand experience with the truth (though this is only meant as an analogy, for it is not possible to have second hand experience with/of truth, because then you cannot know whether it is true or not).
The process of knowledge, and data/information, acquisition is as follows for the two different people types, 'Leaders' and 'Followers'
Unawareness > Henid* > Hunch > Formulate Hypothesis > Test Hypothesis > Accept or Reject Hypothesis > If True then Accumulate New Truth.
(None of the above.) A cultural authority figure/source tells you a piece of information, it is accepted as truth (minor cognitive dissonance is acceptable e.g. one teacher telling you that Methane is the most harmful 'greenhouse gas' and another teacher telling you that Carbon Dioxide is the most harmful 'greenhouse gas'. Though the threshold for tolerance of cognitive dissonance is unknown to me at present)
An alternative explanation is that the Follower views his beliefs as almost tangible 'things' i.e. possessions, rather than as constructs. Thus when someone threatens to scrutinize (destroy) his beliefs, he becomes defensive, protective over the possessions in the same way that he would if his house or belongings were being attacked and threatened with destruction. Though instead of suffering physical loss, they would suffer conceptual loss. To suffer from extreme physical loss would result in poverty, to suffer extreme conceptual loss would result in ideological (for want of a better word) poverty. Both leave the person in a high degree of uncertainty, insecurity. Too much insecurity, uncertainty results in being reduced to a state of flux (think the theory of quantum mechanics (that I'm only vaguely aware of) which puts the foundation of the entire universe on a metaphorical sandpit). A person in flux who has no or little willfulness (which is why they are a Follower in the first place) is a terrible thing. Willfullness is needed for certainty, i.e. to make a choice between 'A' and 'Not-A'. No willfullness means no certainty. Thus a person, a Follower, who is threatened with removal of their ideas, is being threatened existentially, i.e. their kernal, their sense of being, self, with perpetual uncertainty, which is death (see my article on 'Supposition on Pure Chaos as Both Existence and Non-Existence' http://lutherburgsvik.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/supposition-on-pure-chaos-as-both.html). Chaos is duality: 'A' and 'Not-A' coexisting with no choice of being one or the other. 'Will/Choice' is required for either 'A' or 'Not-A' to be chosen. Chaos = Options; Willfulness = Choice).
A third option, related to the second, is that women get possessive over belongings - because they are natural accumulators and receivers, rather than men who are natural creators and givers - and thus those who are follower are more likely to be womanly (herds are typically female think cattle herd versus a wolf pack). Leaders and creators are more likely to be male, who are typically more willing to scrutinize their beliefs and try to determine 'for themselves' what is true and what is not. That is not to say that all women are automatically followers, or all men are automatically leaders, simply that this is the typical behaviour/character of the sexes.
* A Henid is Otto Weiningers name for a 'proto thought': an unformed, undeveloped thought form. A useful analogy would be when someone says "'ang on a minute. Something aint right with that." The fellow who says this doesn't know exactly what he is thinking, his hunch isn't developed, but he has a vague inkling of something amiss, something not right.