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Learn the key ideas of the book by Gad Saad

The Parasitic Mind

How Ideas can destroy common sense

The Parasitic Mind is a provocative read on the proper use of reason. Written by Gad Saad, Professor of Marketing at the John Molson School of Business at Concordia University, it reviews different schools of thought – from postmodernism to feminism – and demonstrates how incorrect answers are often the result of incorrect assumptions. Saad lays particular blame on academic environments, especially on the universities, because instead of guiding students towards intellectual autonomy, they end up sucking their minds and souls dry. If we are right in assuming that everyone has the freedom to express their personal opinion on any issue, it is also true that too much freedom results in pluralism, which provides fertile ground for confusion to reign, and consequently, can reach a point at which we are no longer able to see reason.

The Parasitic Mind
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Two ways in which humans express themselves - by thinking and feeling - are now being threatened by ideas that are claimed to be absolute

Human beings are thinking animals, which makes them different from other species. Our conquest of thought is the result of years and years of scientific study. Universities are a place of culture par excellence, but they are also environments in which freedom has superseded reason, and where unhealthy ideas have invaded the minds of many students and professors.

Over the course of his life, Saad has faced two wars: the civil war in Lebanon as a child, and the war against reason as a professor. As a result of his personal experiences, he came to formulate key concepts by which to live his life, such as freedom and truth. Saad also developed the desire to leave a profound impact on the world,  with his precise starting point being the world of academia. According to Saad, universities began to drift, due to the tendency to underplay the truth, in order to minimise suffering. Humans need to learn to balance reason and emotion, because if they rely on reason alone, every thought becomes speculation that can be replicated ad infinitum. On the other hand, if we rely exclusively on emotion, thought becomes void,  and we lose our direction. In fact, if we choose the wrong reference system, we will end up heading in the opposite direction to that which we would like to follow.

Freedom of speech is necessary in order to be able to express oneself properly. Being able to express our opinions, following scientific methods, and appreciating intellectual diversity, as well as relying on meritocracy, are non-negotiable elements of an enlightened society, and contribute to each individual’s personal dignity. Talking about freedom is important, and much better than talking about ideology, even when it uses terms like diversity, inclusion, and equity (DIE). In fact, a healthy society ensures that its members have equal opportunities, not equality of outcomes, as DIE ideology would imply.

The concept of freedom itself should be approached with reason. Too much freedom of thought has allowed infectious ideas to spread: ideas about anti-science, anti-reason, and illiberal ideas, such as postmodernism, radical feminism, and transgender activism. Such disorder is reminiscent of, for example, the so-called OPS disease, (Ostrich Parasitic Syndrome) which causes disordered thinking, and which takes away a person's ability to distinguish even the most obvious truths, such as the existence of the sun.

Discussion, therefore, serves to restore order, and to ensure that reason returns. to where it had one been lost. Both a combination of thinking and feeling are required. These should not be seen as antithetical, but rather, as fundamental to the decision-making process. In fact, problems arise when we use the wrong sequence as a model, inevitably leading us to the wrong answer.


The key ideas of "The Parasitic Mind"

Two ways in which humans express themselves - by thinking and feeling - are now being threatened by ideas that are claimed to be absolute
When infectious ideas form, they destroy common sense and our understanding of reality
Saad's critique begins with universities
Saad's guiding ideals are freedom and truth
Saad's advice for living in the world (not hiding) on the side of truth
Take-home message

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