Does the Mind Have an Immune System?
A Virtual Conversation with
Andy Norman, Author of Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think
Wednesday, May 26, 7 pm EDT on Zoom
Astonishingly, irrational ideas are spreading. COVID denial persists in the face of overwhelming evidence. Anti-vaxxers compromise public health. Conspiracy thinking hijacks minds and incites mob violence. Toxic partisanship is cleaving nations, and climate denial has pushed our planet to the brink. Meanwhile, American Nazis march openly in the streets, and Flat Earth theory is back. What the heck is going on? Why is all this happening, and why now? More importantly, what can we do about it?
On Wednesday, May 26, Science Writers in New York invites you to join us on Zoom for a virtual conversation with SWINY co-chair David Levine (@dlloydlevine) and Andy Norman (@DrAndyNo) who will discuss his new book Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think (published May 18 by Harper Collins) and his testing of a “mind vaccine”—a way to inoculate minds against infectious ideas.
We live in a time when the so-called “right to your opinion” is thought to trump our responsibilities. The resulting ethos effectively compromises mental immune systems, allowing “mind parasites” to overrun them. Conspiracy theories, evidence-defying ideologies, garden-variety bad ideas: these are all species of mind parasite, and each of them employs clever strategies to circumvent mental immune systems. In fact, some of them compromise cultural immune systems – the things societies do to prevent bad ideas from spreading. Norman shows why all of this is more than mere analogy: minds and cultures really do have immune systems, and they really can break down. Fortunately, they can also be built up: strengthened against ideological corruption. He calls for a rigorous science of mental immune health – what he calls “cognitive immunology” – and explains how it could revolutionize our capacity for critical thinking.
About Andy Norman
Andy directs the Humanism Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University and writes for national magazines. He studies how ideologies short-circuit minds and corrupt moral understanding. Then he develops tools that help people reason together in more fruitful ways.
Have a question for Andy Norman you would like answered? Submit it here!
Wednesday, May 26
7 to 8 pm EDT