Mental Immunity: For the Passionately Ignorant and Willfully Disinformed with Andy Norman PhD & Renata Salecl PhD
Original Air Date Wednesday, November 30, 2022
What is true is not always what some choose to believe. There are some people who subscribe to the ignorance is bliss philosophy and others have difficulty discerning which information is born in conspiracy or in science.
To gain a better understanding of those who wish to remain passionately ignorant and willfully disinformed, Positive Psychology Podcast Host Lisa Cypers Kamen speaks with two authors who specialize in the science of the mind. In Andy Norman’s book, Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think, he examines what makes some groups more susceptible to mind ‘bugs’ and mental hijacking. His cognitive hygiene concept offers mental immunity to those who prefer to think rationally and want to protect themselves from conspiracy theories. Sociologist Renata Salecl shares the core theme of her book, Passion for Ignorance: What We Choose Not to Know and Why. Her research studies why in this modern age of big data, genetics, and neuroscience people still choose to be ignorant about things that affect them and their health.
Andy Norman — Mental Immunity:
- In his book, Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think, Andy suggests that we are all susceptible to mind bugs. [2:53]
- Mental immunity is made stronger by healthy doubts and critical thinking but the mind can be hijacked through fear. [6:02]
- It is natural for the elderly and marginalized groups to be susceptible to mind hijacking, Andy cites examples. [9:09]
- How the Biden administration handled Putin’s narrative on Ukraine is an example of preemptive cognitive hygiene. [21:38]
- The Russian disinformation agency that spreads divisive misinformation discovered that by latching on to something that happened it will spread farther faster. [23:52]
Andy Norman is the award-winning author of Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind-Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think. His work has appeared in Scientific American, Psychology Today, Psychiatric Times, Skeptic, Free Inquiry, and The Humanist. He has appeared on The Joe Rogan Experience, NPR, and The BBC’s Naked Scientist. His research illuminates the evolutionary origins of human reasoning, the norms that make dialogue fruitful, and the workings of the mind’s immune system. He champions the emerging science of mental immunity as the antidote to disinformation, propaganda, hate, and division. He is the founder of the Cognitive Immunology Research Collaborative (CIRCE), a global think-tank leading the effort to inoculate humanity against cognitive contagion.
Book: Mental Immunity: Infectious Ideas, Mind Parasites, and the Search for a Better Way to Think
The Russian disinformation agency that spreads divisive misinformation discovered that by latching on to something that happened it will spread farther faster. [23:52]
- Renata shares the science behind the strange phenomenon of humans having a passion for ignorance. [32:17]
- Renata details the harm in only considering individual choices over societal interests. [36:42]
- Ignorance is on the rise. It is not just that we see it more often. [38:54]
- Renata recognizes the parallels between liking and sharing on social media to a tax paid for friendship. [42:27]
- Research shows people share hate speech and things they don’t believe in based on the amount of attention or recognition they get from sharing it. [46:39]
- Renata explains how we can become critical of ourselves, our ignorance, and the ignorance of others. [54:19]
Renata Salecl PhD is a philosopher and sociologist. She is a Professor at the School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, and a Senior Researcher at the Institute of Criminology at the School of Law, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Her books, which include On Anxiety; Tyranny of Choice; and A Passion for Ignorance, have been translated into 15 languages. Renata’s 2014 TED Global talk has garnered over 1.6 million
Book: Passion for Ignorance: What We Choose Not to Know and Why
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“In this country, there is a holy war of sorts against women's rights, women's reproductive rights, and people don't see it.” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“If you fear monger and separate — us vs them — it keeps people dumbed down and in a state of being, like a sheep. ” @LisaKamen on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Intelligence is no guarantee that you don't have a lot of bad ideas.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Doubts are the antibodies of the mind.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Culture warriors have discovered in recent years that you can manipulate the mind's immune system to make people cynical and hijack people's minds by making them fear.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Wisdom requires judiciousness.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“We all need to exercise a certain degree of caution in the way we consume and handle information if we want to stay healthy.” @DrAndyNo on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“People are closing their eyes in the face of social science.” — Renata Salecl on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Individualism leads to feelings of guilt and anxiety.” — Renata Salecl on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Ignorance is linked in a strange way to the feeling that we are ignored.” — Renata Salecl on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“On social media, liking and sharing is a tax we are paying for friendship.” — Renata Salecl on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Political opinions somehow very much rely on our emotions.” — Renata Salecl on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet“Ignorance is bliss at least when we are in the stage of romance. Not knowing too much about your potential partner can keep romantic feelings alive.” — Renata Salecl on @HH_TalkRadio Click To Tweet
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