Empower people to express their doubts with well-framed questions. Strengthen the cultural norm that requires us to yield to better reasons (rather than defy it to protect dysfunctional beliefs, desires, and attitudes).
Teach kids the scientific attitude (which is essential to proper idea-testing and healthy mental immune function). Help everyone grasp that idea-testing is a team sport—that we need to take account of other people's doubts and challenges to gain deep immunity (hence the need for critical dialogue).
Help people understand that doubts and qualms are the mind's antibodies—that we must listen to them if we hope to develop strong mental immunity.
Diagnose and treat mental immune disorders (habits of mind that interfere with rigorous idea-filtering). Cultivate the growth mindset (the fixed mindset is in fact a mental immune disorder).
Inoculate minds against misinformation, science denial, and propaganda. Develop "mind-vaccines"—instructional interventions that confer immunity to especially troublesome ideas and tendencies of thought.
Upgrade the brain's antivirus software (our standards of reasonable belief function like the "virus definitions" in antivirus software, and the standard our culture "preinstalls" in most of us exacerbates confirmation bias).
Teach people to avoid willful belief (for it subverts mental immune health). Strengthen the cultural norm that requires us to yield to better reasons (rather than defy it to protect dysfunctional beliefs, desires, and attitudes).
Teach people not to identify with their beliefs (because identity-protective cognition then kicks in and compromises mental immunity).
Instill fair-mindedness so people don't weaponize their critical thinking skills (when people weaponize reasons, they fuel the culture wars that compromise the mental immune health of self and others). Redesign education to confer deep immunity to toxic and divisive ideologies.
Use this guide as a strategy for developing mental immunity in your classroom, organization, or in your private life.
Note: No one tool for a constructive dialogue will fit every circumstance.
Power imbalances create special challenges—situational awareness, sensitivity, and judgment are always needed to apply the guidelines properly.
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