Thanks for your essay, it was encouraging and inspiring!
What you have observed seems to accurately reflect the world and the way people function (not just on the internet). When I did a google search for “the need to believe” I found links that seemed interesting and relevant. I have a working theory about the human brain which seems to fit the evidence that I see in my life, and what I have read.
The human brain is a giant pattern-matching machine. It operates most of the time on incomplete data. But the brain doesn’t express patterns as abstract theories, it expresses those observed patterns as “belief”. We observe evidence, and we form a belief about the world in a very unscientific way.
There is no genetic, neurological process for “possible pattern, but not enough data”
Science itself (and by extension rationality itself) seems to be something humans invented to overcome the normal operating mode of the human brain which naturally operates more as a social instrument governed by sophistry and cognitive bias.
Another thing that ties in more specifically to the internet is the need to grab people’s interest. Claiming that an accepted pattern is not true or not useful is unlikely to attract attention or support. Claiming that a different pattern (moral, ethical, social, etc) fits reality better will be more engaging to readers because of the nature of human brains that I described above.