Cognitive Immunity: The Moral Mind of Critical Thinkers with Andy Norman Ph.D. & Allen Buchanan Ph.D.

Original Air Date Wednesday, August 3, 2022 

Most people want to be happy. Yet, the moral fabric of society lays prey to degradation caused by our evolutionary need to tribalize. The reduction of our critical thinking abilities allows for mind parasites to take hold and inhibit well-being. Is it possible to inoculate our minds and make them immune to untruths and bad ideas that spread through social media?

To unveil mental methods that keep our minds happy and healthy amidst the barrage of media input we receive, Positive Psychology Podcast Host Lisa Cypers Kamen speaks with two authors about their books on the subject. Andy Norman created a new spin on aged philosophy to vaccinate minds. He shares key takeaways from his book, Mental Immunity. Allen Buchanan recounts key chapters from his book, Our Moral Fate: Evolution and the Escape from Tribalism and discusses the shaky ground on which democracy sits.

Andy Norman — Cognitive Immunity:

  • Andy discusses the mind’s immune system, mind parasites, and does a thought experiment with Lisa. [1:55]
  • The Socratic method is a powerful mind inoculant and if modified can become a mind vaccine. [6:37]
  • How to have conversations with a cranky uncle or anyone else who has a limited worldview. [10:04]
  • In his book, Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think, Andy identifies six ideas that have taken root in our minds. [14:20]
  • The New Socratic method, including deep listening, is a tool of immunology to vaccinate the mind. [19:04]
  • Curiosity towards others builds connection and promotes happiness. [23:37]

Andy Norman Ph.D. standing with trees, guest of new podcast episode of critical thinkers and the mind with Allen Buchanan Ph.D. and Lisa Cypers KamenAndy Norman, Ph.D. teaches philosophy and directs the Humanism Initiative at Carnegie Mellon University. Andy authored the popular “Brainstormin” column for the Humanist Network News and works at understanding how ideologies corrupt moral understanding. His work has appeared in Free Inquiry, Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism, and dozens of other journals. He lives in Pittsburgh with his wife of 20 years, two fascinating kids, and a dog.

Book: Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think


Andy Norman Website
@DrAndyNo on Twitter
Andy Norman Author on Facebook

Allen Buchanan — The Moral Mind of Critical Thinkers:

  • Allen describes the evolution of tribalism and the evolutionary purpose for grouping people into us versus them. [28:11]
  • How tribalism places democracy at risk. [30:55]
  • Tribalism is the death of individuality. [35:32]
  • Allen reflects on how the talking heads of major media companies use aspects of tribalism to create fear. [38:53]
  • Turning the tide: How we can avoid confirmation bias and supreme emergency framing to find our own answers. [43:42]

Allen Buchanan Ph.D. standing with trees, guest of new podcast episode of critical thinkers and the mind with Andy Norman Ph.D. and Lisa Cypers KamenAllen Edward Buchanan is a Professor of philosophy at the University of Arizona and also a professor of the Philosophy of International Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law at King’s College, London. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1975. He now researches for The University of Arizona.

Book: Our Moral Fate: Evolution and the Escape from Tribalism


This episode of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio about critical thinkers is sponsored by:

Are We Happy Yet? Eight Keys to Unlocking a Joyful Life A boot camp manual for greater emotional fitness. Happiness waits for no one and sometimes we all need support. What is getting in the way of your happiness right now? 

HFactor: Where is Your Heart? — Lisa’s documentary film explores the journey of human happiness. Emotions are contagious and happiness is a universally desired state. We tend to forget we all have the freedom to be happy or the liberty to be miserable each day.

“Doubt, critical thinking, curiosity are the ingredients required to build mental immunity.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Beliefs, thoughts, and feelings are not facts.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Maybe we don't spend enough time in schools, and in homes talking about this moral compass that we all agree exists so we can all be in this society together.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“How can we get a moral hygiene makeover? What can caring citizens do to help turn the tide away from fear?” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Our minds have immune systems that protect us to a degree.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Infodemics are a real phenomenon that can skew our thinking in ways that harm us all.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“We are experiencing contagions of irrationality spread across the internet in ways that are tearing at the social fabric.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet “The Socratic method is arguably one of the most powerful mind inoculants of all time.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“The brain has two separate systems that work in opposite directions to try to maintain a balance.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“We have been ignoring our mental immune health for decades.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet “The deep story behind our weird post-truth world is neglect.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“One of the most powerful things you can do to keep your beliefs, feelings, and attitudes healthy is to check them against the facts.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“One thing we are learning about mental immunity is a team sport. You have to listen to people who disagree with you.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Tribalism involves sorting and signaling. You sort the world into us versus them.” — Allen Buchanan on @HH_TalkRadi Click To Tweet “I think tribalism is destroying democracy in this country.” — Allen Buchanan on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“If you start out with the assumption that we are inevitably-opposed enemies, and everything is for the highest stakes, you can't get bargaining and compromise.” — Allen Buchanan on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Tribalism is the death of individuality in two different ways. It suppresses individuality and denies the individuality of others.” — Allen Buchanan on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“The ground is shifting below our feet. Some people are a lot less comfortable about that than others.” — Allen Buchanan on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“People seek out sources of information that confirm their view. It’s confirmation bias.” — Allen Buchanan on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet



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