The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't (Hardcover)
"...an engaging and enlightening account from which we all can benefit."—The Wall Street Journal
A better way to combat knee-jerk biases and make smarter decisions, from Julia Galef, the acclaimed expert on rational decision-making.
When it comes to what we believe, humans see what they want to see. In other words, we have what Julia Galef calls a "soldier" mindset. From tribalism and wishful thinking, to rationalizing in our personal lives and everything in between, we are driven to defend the ideas we most want to believe—and shoot down those we don't.
But if we want to get things right more often, argues Galef, we should train ourselves to have a "scout" mindset. Unlike the soldier, a scout's goal isn't to defend one side over the other. It's to go out, survey the territory, and come back with as accurate a map as possible. Regardless of what they hope to be the case, above all, the scout wants to know what's actually true.
In The Scout Mindset, Galef shows that what makes scouts better at getting things right isn't that they're smarter or more knowledgeable than everyone else. It's a handful of emotional skills, habits, and ways of looking at the world—which anyone can learn. With fascinating examples ranging from how to survive being stranded in the middle of the ocean, to how Jeff Bezos avoids overconfidence, to how superforecasters outperform CIA operatives, to Reddit threads and modern partisan politics, Galef explores why our brains deceive us and what we can do to change the way we think.
About the Author
Julia Galef is the host of the popular Rationally Speaking podcast, where she has interviewed thinkers such as Tyler Cowen, Sean Carroll, Phil Tetlock, and Neil deGrasse Tyson. She is an advisor to OpenAI, works with the Open Philanthropy Project, and cofounded the Center for Applied Rationality. Her 2016 TED Talk "Why You Think You're Right--Even If You're Wrong" has been viewed over 4 million times.
"Without the scout mindset's attitude of curiosity and truth-seeking to undergird knowledge and the tools of science and reason, mental fitness will elude us. The Scout Mindset describes how to cultivate those virtues in an engaging and enlightening account from which we all can benefit."—The Wall Street Journal
"I’ve learned more about how to think and reason well from Julia Galef than from almost anyone."—Dylan Matthews, senior correspondent at Vox
“We know a lot about how flawed human reasoning is, but surprisingly little about how to repair it in our daily lives. Thankfully, Julia Galef is here to change that. With insights that are both sharp and actionable, her book picks up where Predictably Irrational left off. Reading it will teach you to think more clearly, see yourself more accurately, and be wrong a little less often.”—Adam Grant, author of Originals and Give and Take, host of WorkLife podcast
"Most books tell you what to think. This is something rarer, and more valuable: a book about how to think, and how to learn, without the fear or favor that so often holds us back from inching closer to the truth. The beauty of The Scout Mindset demonstration is it is, itself, an example of the ethos it teaches. The delight it takes in questioning its own premises, and understanding the alternative arguments, will make you want to be a scout, too."—Ezra Klein, cofounder of Vox, author of Why We’re Polarized, and host of The Ezra Klein Show podcast
“I find myself quoting Julia in my writing again and again, because no one explains thinking and rationality better than she does. The ideas in The Scout Mindset have been stuck in my head ever since I watched her TED Talk. The Scout Mindset is a lens, and once you're looking through it, the world makes a lot more sense.”—Tim Urban, cofounder of Wait But Why
“Julia Galef doesn't simply harangue us for not thinking clearly; she diagnoses why we do it, and suggests concrete ways to improve our rationality. This is a book that will make a real difference in how you think."—Sean Carroll, author of Something Deeply Hidden
“Julia Galef is an intellectual leader of the rationalist community, and in The Scout Mindset you will find an engaging, clearly written distillation of her very important accumulated wisdom on these topics."—Tyler Cowen, author of Big Business and The Great Stagnation
“Julia Galef is one of the smartest and most interesting thinkers in the world. If you read this superb book, you will think and see more clearly, and be a wiser human being.”—Johann Hari, author of Lost Connections
“The Scout Mindset is essential reading for understanding how the stories we tell ourselves sacrifice better decision-making in the long-term for a short-term boost to our egos…A must-read for anyone looking be more rational in their choices."—Annie Duke, author of Thinking in Bets
“Drawing on her extensive knowledge of the scientific literature and of popular culture, Julia Galef explores the remarkable human capacity for self-deception—and shows us how we can catch ourselves in the act of fooling ourselves.”—Philip Tetlock, author of Superforecasting
“The Scout Mindset offers an insightful, entertaining, and genuinely useful guide to thinking more clearly.”—Don Moore, author of Perfectly Confident