The Scout Mindset

A better way to combat knee-jerk biases and make smarter decisions, from cofounder and president of the Center for Applied Rationality and “Rationally Speaking” podcast host Julia Galef.

Our brains lie to us. They’ve evolved to help us forget or ignore our painful mistakes, while fueling our irrational instincts. But what if we could train our minds to make more rational decisions, without any blow to our confidence?
Julia Galef’s insight is that most of us naturally have a “soldier” mindset. We protect our beliefs aggressively and ignore any evidence that we might be wrong. This happens when you read a headline suggesting an idea you support isn’t as great as it’s cracked up to be, and you immediately find flaws in the article. Your mind decides what you want to be true, so you concoct a justification for why, logically, that idea makes the most sense.

Galef explains that to be more right more often, we need to approach ideas less like a soldier and more like a scout. A scout surveys the land, seeking accuracy and understanding to find all available information–good and bad–to gain a more holistic picture. While the soldier and the scout are both essential to an actual army, a scout mindset will benefit most of us more in decision-making.

With fascinating stories ranging from Warren Buffett’s investing strategies to subreddit threads and modern partisan politics, Galef explores why our brains deceive us and what we can do to change the way we think.

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The Scout Mindset | psikologx | 4.5