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The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't

Julia Galef

8 Reviews

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Business strategy

A better way to combat knee-jerk biases and make smarter decisions, from Julia Galef, the acclaimed expert on rational decision-making.

'Original, thought-provoking and a joy to read' Tim Harford

'Highly recommended. It's not easy to become (more of) a scout, but it's hard not to be inspired by this book' Rutger Bregman

'With insights that are both sharp and actionable, The Scout Mindset 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

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 rationalising 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 we should train ourselves to think more like a scout. 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.

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Praise for The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't

  • 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

  • Julia understands human thinking with incredible clarity and she's a master at communicating that clarity to others through her writing and metaphors. I haven't stopped thinking about the scout mindset ever since I first heard Julia explain it - Tim Urban, writer and creator of Wait But Why

  • Julia Galef is one of the smartest, most exciting voices not just in American rationalism, but in American writing period. She is consistently fascinating

  • Julia Galef, one of our foremost experts on identifying the problem of motivated reasoning and cognitive biases, has produced the best work to date on what to do about it, both personally to improve our lives and socially to make the world a more rational and reasonable place for all. A must read for all who have trouble saying "I was wrong" and "I change my mind", which is all of us - Michael Shermer, writer, founder of Skeptic, and New York Times bestselling author of The Moral Arc

  • 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

  • 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, author of Why We Are Polarized

  • 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

  • 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

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Julia Galef

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.

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