‘Idea Pathogens, Parasitize Our Minds’: Professor Gad Saad

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Most people don’t put in the cognitive effort to reach a rational conclusion, he says

Gad Saad is a Lebanese-Canadian professor of marketing at Concordia University, Canada, and the author of “The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense.” Saad argues that “idea pathogens” have infected the minds of millions and made many people “hysterical” about Donald Trump.

“What I call idea pathogens, these dreadful ideas that just like an actual physical pathogen can cause us harm, idea pathogens, parasitize our minds, leading us to quietly go into the abyss of infinite lunacy,” Saad said during a recent interview with Epoch TV’s American Thought Leaders program.

Saad said an idea can trigger either our thinking (cognitive system) or feelings (emotional system). When judging if a president is good or bad, Saad argues we should use our thinking or cognitive system, not our feelings, to form our opinion of their leadership.

“What are the policies of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama that you either agree or disagree with when we’re choosing a president or prime minister? We should be triggering our cognitive system,” said Saad.

However, “When you look at all of the reasons that people use to justify why noble prophet, Barack Obama is so beautiful, and why Donald Trump is such an existential threat, it’s only based on emotional responses,” said Saad.

He gave an example of an emotional response in relation to Trump.

“He [Trump] is an aesthetic injury to me. He is a rejection of what makes me part of the anointed Malibu class. If such a grotesque, gauche monster could ascend to the highest echelons of power, then how can I take my ivory tower degree seriously,” Saad speaking as Sam Harris and “the ivory tower folks.”

“Supremely intelligent and rational people are not inoculated from parasitic thinking.”

 Sam Harris on TRIGGERnometry

Sam Harris is a neuroscientist, philosopher, and author, who did a podcast interview with TRIGGERnometry on Aug. 17, where he said the media were correct to interfere with the 2020 presidential election by burying the Hunter Biden laptop story.

“That’s a left-wing conspiracy [burying the Hunter Biden laptop story] to deny the presidency to Donald Trump. Absolutely. It was absolutely right. But I think it was warranted,” said Harris during the interview. “We have a massive problem. We have an existential threat, right? Politically speaking, I consider Trump an existential threat to our democracy right now.”

Most people, including Harris, who loathe Donald Trump are of “weak cognitive constituency,” meaning they don’t bother to think through what facts or policies they dislike, but use their feelings to judge Trump, Saad said.

These people are “succumbing to the triggering of the wrong system, the emotional system rather than the cognitive system.”

The Epoch Times reached out to Harris for comment.

Truth vs. Outcome

The other important factor in susceptibility to parasitic thinking is that people like this are not adhering to the deontological, fundamental principles on which Western society is built said, Saad.

bill of rights
(Charles Haire/Shutterstock)

Saad explained that Western deontological ethics are things like, the presumption of innocence and the right to free speech. Whereas, consequentialist ethics are truths that change based on the assessment of the consequence, like telling the truth when someone asks if they look good.

Harris used consequential ethics, whereas he should use deontological ethics, Saad said

“He [Sam Harris] said, sure, the media should be honest and fully reporting all stories. But when it comes to reporting Hunter Biden’s laptop story, it was perfectly okay for them to suppress that, because otherwise, Donald Trump could have won, and that wouldn’t have been good.”

In this instance, “You’re taking a deontological principle, and you’re violating it for consequentialist goals. That’s morally grotesque,” said Saad. “I’m Jewish, I escaped execution in Lebanon, and yet I support the right of Holocaust deniers to spew their most grotesque offensive statements.”

_sins of the fathers-hitler
Adolf Hitler in Munich in the spring of 1932. (Heinrich Hoffmann/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Totalitarian Tendency

Dictators and totalitarians do the same thing as many of the Trump haters who choose consequential ethics over deontological ethics when they target Trump and his voters as a threat,  said Saad.

“’It’s okay to violate the deontological principles’ is what every single dictator and miscreant has used throughout all of human history,” he said.

For a long time, his immediate family refused to leave Lebanon but it became too dangerous to be Jewish in the Middle East and so, his family was forced to flee Lebanon a year after the civil war started in 1974.

“I want for people to understand that, a culture that is organized along identity politics lines, is exactly what happens in Lebanon, in Iraq, and Rwanda,” said Saad, adding that it leads to the persecution of a scapegoated group.

Worst Idea Pathogens

Saad pointed out that universities are part of the problem.

“All of the idea of pathogens that have parasitized the West originally stemmed from the university ecosystem,” said Saad.

Social constructivism, bio-phobia (the fear of using biology to explain human phenomena), cultural relativism (who are we to judge other cultures if they want to do it a certain way?), militant feminism, and post-modernism, are all included in a list of idea pathogens, said Saad.

“The worst of all idea pathogens is post-modernism because it fundamentally attacks the epistemology of truth,” it does not just spread a singular falsehood but “post-modernism rejects the possibility of seeking truth,” said Saad.

“Because it basically says that we are always constrained by our subjectivity by our personal biases, so to speak of a truth with a capital ‘T,’ is wrong because there is no truth,” he said.

‘Cognitive Misers’

Most people do not expend the mental energy to come to a rational conclusion about a person like Trump said Saad, calling these people “cognitive misers.”

“I didn’t go out and expend the necessary effort to test the veracity of that statement. I didn’t build … the nomological network,” said Saad.

People, generally, lack the cognitive discipline to build a ‘nomological network’ to justify their opinion, he said.

He gave an example of a ‘nomological network’: if someone believes that boys like a certain group of toys and girls like another group of toys, that person should build a body of evidence to support that opinion.

“I’m going to build a network of evidence called nomological network of cumulative evidence, whereby I’m going to get you data from across cultures, across time periods, across species, across methodologies, all of which are going to triangulate regarding the veracity of my position,” he said.

“I don’t have to be hysterical. I don’t have to emote louder than you. I simply have to have the cognitive acuity and discipline to build that network with confidence,” he said.

Saad believes that if a person has not built sufficient knowledge to hold a particular position, they should be honest and say they don’t know enough to have an opinion.

“It’s really the way that people should be adjudicating all of these important societal issues,” he said.

Saad said, “COVID public policy manifestations are the exact opposite of building a nomological network.”

“What is it that can explain why it’s six feet rather than eight feet distance? … This aisle, you weren’t allowed to go to because it was a non-essential, but this aisle you are allowed to, what is the epidemiological virologist fact that justifies such a policy?” said Saad.

Why were Black Lives Matter protestors allowed to gather in the thousands but you couldn’t go visit a dying grandparent, asked Saad.

“It’s a manifestation of how politics could even parasitize something as noble as public policy edicts,” said Saad.

Parasitic Mind COVER
“The Parasitic Mind: How Infectious Ideas Are Killing Common Sense” by Gad Saad.

Targeted For Speaking Truthfully

Saad said he has faced many personal attacks and professional repercussions for speaking out against parasitic ideas, ranging from death threats to being denied university positions because fellow academics would protest his nomination.

“I know that many universities that wanted to extend me [an] offer because of my academic dossier, who then were stopped because when other faculty members would hear that Gad Saad might be hired here, they would start a mutiny, and then I would lose that opportunity,” said Saad.

Regardless of the professional costs, Saad said he could not live with himself if he was not truthful and lived with intellectual integrity.

“I tell people, stop worrying about being canceled at your job, stop worrying about being unfriended by Facebook, truth is more important than you being canceled,” said Saad.

Most importantly, “authenticity is the way to happiness and liberation,” said Saad.

Jan Jekielek

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Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, “American Thought Leaders.” Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film “Finding Manny.”

Masooma Haq

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Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.





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