Product Description and Author Information
About the Book
Foreword by Steven Pinker
A philosopher shows how to rid ourselves of breaks in logic that cause destructive thinking and extremism, and provides the tools to inoculate our minds and keep them safe from becoming infected by bad ideas.
Why do people reject science and believe conspiracy theories they see on social media? How do people become so radicalized online that they commit acts of violence? Why is our society so politically polarized? How has a growing percentage of Americans become unhinged?
Andy Norman has spent years studying the destructive forces that can flip the minds of sensible people to understand how they take hold. He calls them mind-parasites, ideas that can poison our thinking and leave us more susceptible to wild conspiracies, lead us to reject scientific evidence, and convince us to double down on unfounded beliefs.
Norman breaks down this troubling trend that has dangerously riven our society and charts a course forward. Just as the body can be weakened by foreign organisms that make us sick, the mind too is vulnerable to infection. But just as antibiotics can be used to attack the biological organisms causing physical illness, we can treat the mind parasites that invade our heads. He shows us how to engage in productive discussion, analyzes the psychological evidence about how to change minds, and reveals how we can safeguard ourselves and protect those around us from mind-parasites like conspiracies and fake news.
Norman calls for the study of cognitive immunology, a way of thinking where individuals and society learn to differentiate facts and reasons from disinformation and false memes. By strengthening our mental immunity, we become open to other ideas and learn how better to communicate about beliefs and policy without dissolving into partisan finger-pointing. Norman offers suggestions to create a value- and respect-based system of dialogue that can help us bolster cultural cognitive immunity as we protect our own minds from succumbing to bad ideas.