November 14, 2021

Why We Are More Vulnerable To Harmful Conspiracy Theories Than We Think | Andy Norman

Misinformation is like a virus, spreading quickly and propagating in a way that doesn’t benefit its host. Andy Noman describes harmful ideas as acting like “mind parasites” that deploy clever tactics to infect our thinking by circumventing our mental immune systems. And we’re even more susceptible to bad ideas than we realize. 

So how do we immunize ourselves against mind parasites? Can we reach herd immunity? Can we critically think our way out of this epidemic of unreason? After 30 years of research on this topic, Andy has concluded that the traditional models of critical thinking are not up to the task in our hyper-connected world. We need a more comprehensive framework for inoculating our minds against viral nonsense. 

Andy Norman is an award-winning author who teaches philosophy at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University. He has recently published his new book, “Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think”: https://amzn.to/3o6OjbU. We are thrilled to welcome Andy as part of our series on understanding more about Conspiracy Theories. Our conversation with Andy reveals details of his framework for strengthening our own mental immunity. We hope you enjoy listening!

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Topics

(3:37) Welcome and speed round questions.

(6:20) We are experiencing an epidemic of unreason. 

(8:17) How can we immunize ourselves against disinformation? 

(14:10) How our identity can affect our mental immunity.

(17:54) A framework for mental immunity. 

(21:11) Thinking in probabilities instead of in black & white.

(26:08) Why acknowledging other people's truths can have a surprising effect. 

(29:38) The objective difference between a good idea and a bad idea.

(32:25) Arguing with someone who only cares about themselves.

(38:54) Is there a chance we will reach mental herd immunity?

(44:13) What music is on Andy’s playlist?

(47:11) Grooving Session with Kurt and Tim talking about how to apply Andy’s work.

© 2021 Behavioral Grooves

Links

Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think” by Andy Norman: https://amzn.to/3o6OjbU 

Ludwig Wittgenstein: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Wittgenstein 

Socrates: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socrates 

Dan Kahan, “Identity Protective Cognition”: https://bit.ly/2YxM3Sk 

Episode 176: Annie Duke on How to Decide: https://behavioralgrooves.com/episode/annie-duke-on-how-to-decide/

Musical Links

Mark Knopfler “Piper to the End”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XsrKWwx3x7o

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