Infodemic Inoculation: Exercising thought intelligence through whole brain thinking with Andy Norman Ph.D. & John Cook Ph.D.

Original Air Date Wednesday, June 16, 2021 

The COVID pandemic has most of us thinking about having our physical systems vaccinated. But, what about the disease of disinformation? Is it possible to inoculate our minds and make them immune to untruths and bad ideas that spread through social networks? Is there a proven method to keep probable mind parasites at bay? To better understand how to thwart misinformation and converse with those whose minds have been targeted by pirates, Positive Psychology Podcast Host Lisa Cypers Kamen speaks with two doctors who specialize in disarming disinformation and exercising intelligence. Andy Norman created a new spin on aged philosophy to vaccinate minds. He shares key takeaways from his book, Mental Immunity. Climate Scientist John Cook designed a cartoon and game based on a ‘Crazy Uncle’ amalgam to teach our minds how to have conversations with people who think differently than we do.

Andy Norman — Infodemic Inoculation:

  • Andy discusses the mind’s immune system and does a thought experiment with Lisa to exercise intelligence. [1:59]
  • The Socratic method is a powerful mind inoculant and if modified can become a mind vaccine. [6:41]
  • How to have conversations with a cranky uncle or anyone else who has a limited world view. [8:52]
  • Have our mental immune systems become compromised? [18:21]
  • The New Socratic method is a tool of immunology to vaccinate the mind and exercise intelligence. [24:04]

Andy Norman, Ph.D. with blue jacket and white background, recent guest of Infodemic Inoculation: Exercising thought intelligence through whole brain thinking with John Cook Ph.D. Andy 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

John Cook — Whole Brain Thinking:

  • The impact misinformation and denial have on society. [32:12]
  • Inhabiting the same reality is the only way to move humanity forward. [36:07]
  • John shares the principles of his Cranky Uncle game and how it has been received by students. [37:03]
  • The benefits of learning how to argue and how it helps us think logically. [42:10]
  • As a cartoonist, John was able to visualize the logical flow of disinformation. [45:10]
  • How games and role-playing help inoculate the mind and affects intelligence. [53:29]


John Cook Ph.D. with black jacket and forest background, recent guest of Infodemic Inoculation: Exercising thought intelligence through whole brain thinking with Andy Norman Ph.D. John Cook Ph.D. is a post-doctoral research fellow at the Climate Change Communication Research Hub at Monash University. He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Western Australia, studying the cognitive psychology of climate science denial. His research focus is on understanding and countering misinformation about climate change.



Cranky Uncle Website
Skeptical Science Website
@JohnfoCookon Twitter
Cranky Uncles on Facebook
Skeptical Science on Facebook

This episode of Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio about brain thinking is sponsored by:

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Best Fiends — Playing games passed the time and was always a cure for boredom. One thing was and is certain… Taking the time to play makes us happy. Best Fiends is a highly engaging digital universe that challenges you in a good way. The fun never ends on Best Fiends because there is always something new to explore. Download the 5-star rated mobile puzzle game on the Apple App Store or Google Play.

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.