Do Our Minds Have Immune Systems to Protect Us from Infectious Ideas?
Andy Norman in Conversation with Andrew Keen on Keen On
Hosted by Andrew Keen, Keen On features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the economic, political, and technological issues being discussed in the news, right now.
In this episode, Andrew is joined by Andy Norman, author of Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think, to discuss inoculating our minds against the worst forms of ideological contagion.
From the episode:
Andy Norman: It turns out—and this is based on about 60 years of research—that just as our bodies have immune systems to protect against dangerous microbes, our minds also have immune systems, but their job is to protect us from infectious ideas. Obviously, mental immune systems function imperfectly, under even the best of circumstances, which is to say they let in some bad ideas and screen out some good ones. And of course, what we’re witnessing in today’s day and age with the “Big Lie” and disinformation campaigns is the fact that people are actually weaponizing information to hijack and compromise mental immune systems. We now know that mental immune function can be compromised, but the good news is that we can actually learn to develop and strengthen our mental immune systems so that we are not taken advantage of by these peddlers of disinformation.
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Andy Norman directs the Humanism Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University. He studies how ideologies short-circuit minds and corrupt moral understanding. Then he develops tools that help people think together in more fruitful ways. He’s done research on the evolutionary origins of human reasoning and the norms that make dialogue fruitful. He works to clarify the foundations of responsible thinking about what matters, and likes to engage audiences on topics related to science and human values.