The Scout Mindset

by Julia Galef

Humans see what they want to see when it comes to beliefs. In other words, we have a "army" mentality, as Julia Galef describes it. We are compelled to defend the ideas we most want to believe—and to shoot down those we don't—from tribalism and wishful thinking to rationalization in our personal lives and everything in between. But, according to Galef, if we want to do things right more often, we need develop a "scout" attitude. The purpose of a scout, unlike that of a military, is not to protect one side over the other. It's to go out and survey the area, then return with a map that's as accurate as possible. Above all, the scout wants to discover what is genuinely true, regardless of what they wish to be the case.

What makes scouts better at doing things right isn't because they're brighter or more educated than everyone else, as Galef demonstrates in The Scout Mindset. It's a collection of emotional abilities, habits, and perspectives that anybody can learn. Galef explores why our brains deceive us and what we can do to change the way we think with fascinating examples ranging from how to survive being stranded in the middle of the ocean, to how Jeff Bezos avoids overconfidence, to how super forecasters outperform CIA operatives, to Reddit threads and modern partisan politics.

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— Julia Galef, The Scout Mindset