This is perhaps one of the best books I have read in the last few years. It starts with the premise that we seek out information that validates or confirms what we believe to be true. Easy enough. The next step is that we discredit information that goes against our belief and accept what confirms our belief. Sounds like social media, doesn’t it? It is an easy cycle to begin and difficult to break. Julia calls this the soldier mindset. It is similar to the cycle that was described in Kathryn Schultz’ book, Being Wrong, and leads to all kinds of pain. The soldier mindset posits that if we are wrong, it is a personal defeat. The “other side” has a motive. It leads to being defensive and not inquisitive or investigative.
Fortunately, Julia Galef offers the antidote- The Scout Mindset. What is the scout mindset? It is as simple as it sounds. A scout’s goal isn’t to defend their position. It is to keep an open mind, explore and collect as much information as possible to form an opinion. They seek truth not proof. Using clever and interesting examples The Scout Mindset offers a new way of thinking and gathering information.
The book helped me with something I have been struggling with for a while. We hear about “identity politics” and its potency. Galef makes the connection between beliefs and identity. When our beliefs become our identity, and facts surface that don’t fit with what we believe, we become judgmental at best and militant at worst. Galef uses the example of the fight over breast milk to make the point. It is a fascinating anecdote that will get you thinking. And that is what a