Protect Your Mind

Jerry Yoakum
3 min readFeb 10, 2021


“If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you’d be furious. Yet you hand over your mind to anyone who comes along, so they may abuse you, leaving it disturbed and troubled — have you no shame in that?”

— Epictetus

An idealized image of Epictetus thinking and writing. A crutch is beside him.

In today’s modern world there is a plethora of content to stuff into our minds. But how can a person filter out the questionable stuff and avoid poisoning their thoughts‽

My recommendation is to find trustworthy and reliable sources who curate content. When it comes to the news I rely on the ad fontes Media Bias Chart to help me avoid misleading and questionable news. The browser extension, BlockSite, allows a user to create a block list. Simply blocking everything on the bottom half of the chart can help avoid bias and misinformation without having to invest large amounts of time vetting the source. The key thing here is that this is a time saving tool for you. Ad fontes is a non-partisan group, or you can read that as they are a mixed partisan group that strives for fairness, the point is that it is a group that is checking each other on accurate reporting.

Another seriously overlooked source of curated content is your local library. Libraries have limited funds, limited space, and skilled librarians. Put those together and you get libraries that strive to hold the best books, movies, magazines, and newspapers that they can get. There are two things to keep in mind with libraries. There is only so much that can be done with limited funds. [Please donate to your local library.] And the usage of the library is a factor in what is kept on the shelves. [Use it or lose it, and majority rules.]

Advertising can be considered unasked for and unavoidable. Online there are many ad blocking tools. I’ve been having good luck with Ghostery. Is it fair to the content providers to be deprived the ad income‽ I don’t know. There are a core set of websites that I do not block tracking or ads because I value their content. However, I do make efforts to guide those ads toward things that align with my values and absolutely block ads that offend me. Advertisers will either listen or be blocked. As for TV, I’ve almost entirely switched to sources without ads. Before that I used a TiVo to skip most ads.

What about fiction? TV, movies, books, theatre… Even though it is fiction it still matters. A good story that evokes a person’s emotions will sway most people’s minds more so than the strongest statistics. To some degree your local library can help but you’ll face the issue of it being too far behind for popular trends and the heavy influence of the masses. So, what to do?

Introspection: an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings

To truly protect your mind you have to make efforts to understand your thoughts — decide what values matter to you and actively acknowledge [to yourself] things that run counter to your values. When something bad happens in a story think about why it is bad and analyze which of your values are in conflict. Don’t just accept it or ignore it because “it’s just a movie.” That is the path to being desensitized to what is wrong in the world and it leads to acceptance of bad things. Only accept those things you can not change, but don’t allow those things to change you.



Jerry Yoakum

Jerry Yoakum is an experienced software engineer and software architect who uses applied math whenever possible.