Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't
Buy book - The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef
What is the subject of the book The Scout Mindset?
The Soldier's Mindset (2021) and the Scout's Mindset (2021) are two very distinct mindsets that are explored in The Scout Mindset (2021). A military mentality, according to this theory, is one in which we adhere to our ideas while dismissing facts that may show us incorrect, according to the author. But we may all learn to be scouts, searching for the truth and refining our understanding of the world around us.
Who is it that reads the book The Scout Mindset?
- Anyone who wants to learn how to overcome their innate prejudices.
- People who are interested in learning how to be incorrect
- Seekers of the truth
Who is Julia Galef, and what is her story?
Julia Galef is an expert in rational decision-making and the creator of the nonprofit Center for Applied Rationality, which specializes in rational thinking and human cognition. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. She's also the presenter of Rationally Speaking, a podcast that encourages critical thinking and scientific education among its listeners. Her debut book, The Scout Mindset, was published in 2012.
What exactly is in it for me? Learn how to think more like a scout and less like a soldier as you go through your training.
Consider the world to be a battlefield, with two kinds of individuals on the field: soldiers and scouts. Soldiers are the most common type of person on the battlefield. The troops think that there is only one way to look at the world, and that is their way of looking at it. They are prepared to attack anything or anybody who they believe is in opposition to their ideology. Then there are the scouts to consider. The scouts are not interested in engaging in combat. There is nothing more important to them than determining the lay of the ground, drawing an exact map of the battlefield, and establishing the facts, regardless of whether those facts support or contradict what they believe to be true. The major revelation is as follows: We're the ones on the front lines. and we're the scouts in charge. We are both soldiers and scouts, but each of us tends to approach life in a somewhat different way than the other.
Clearly, these notes prefer one kind of mentality over another in terms of content. So, what exactly is it about the soldier's mentality that is so detrimental? What is it about standing up for your ideas and defending your convictions that is so harmful? What is it about the scout's mentality that is so admirable?Prepare yourself to find out. A word to the readers: this message was prepared specifically for the purpose of audio transmission. It is strongly recommended that you listen rather than read if you are debating between the two options. You'll also discover why it's important to become adept at being incorrect, why Intel decided to exit the memory-chip industry, and why superforecasters beat CIA operatives and university professors with their forecasting abilities.
What exactly is it about the soldier's mentality that is so detrimental?
Let's begin by responding to the question from earlier in the session: What exactly is it about the soldier's mentality that is so detrimental? After all, being a steadfast defender of your ideas doesn't seem like such a bad thing, does it? When you put it that way, having a soldier's mentality almost seems like a positive thing to possess. Here's a tale to help you understand why it isn't. It's a well-known story, and it's a real one, and it does a very excellent job of showing the devastation that a soldier's mentality can do. It's the tale of the Dreyfus affair, to be precise.
Our tale starts in 1894 in France – particularly, within the German embassy in Paris – and continues to the present day. A torn-up note has been discovered in a wastebasket at the German embassy by a housekeeping staff member. Now, it just so happens that this cleaning guy happens to be a French spy, and that document just so happens to include information on French military affairs. Someone has been selling French secrets to the Germans for quite some time now. Albert Dreyfus, a French army officer, was accused of treason within a short period of time. The handwriting on the message seems to be identical to that of Dreyfus. Additionally, Dreyfus has been provided with access to the material disclosed in the memo. Furthermore, Dreyfus doesn't seem to be a very nice person - he's a gambler and, according to rumors, a womanizer – which makes the situation much worse.
He protests his innocence, but he is judged guilty and condemned to life imprisonment on Devil's Island despite his protestations. Now, you're undoubtedly aware of this, but Dreyfus was completely innocent. Furthermore, there was a substantial amount of evidence pointing to his innocence. So, why was he imprisoned in the first place? This is when the soldier's frame of mind comes into play. The individuals who investigated Dreyfus wanted to think that he was guilty. They conducted their investigation in that manner. Why? His guilt, on the other hand, fits well into their worldview.
As you may have seen, Dreyfus was Jewish. Anti-Semitism was rampant in the ranks of the French military at the time. In addition, he seemed to be of questionable character. Keep in mind that there have been allegations of gambling and womanizing. That means that when they looked at the materials, they weren't searching for evidence that indicated either guilty or innocent behavior. They were operating on the premise of guilt and concentrating on evidence that supported that assumption. Among other things, a second handwriting expert examined the letter and determined that it had not been written by Dreyfus himself. However, the investigators did not accept this explanation. And when the detectives investigated Dreyfus's house for more evidence and came up empty-handed, they didn't take a moment to evaluate their options. They came to the conclusion that he had disposed of it.
The fact that a second individual came under suspicion was explained by the fact that he had learnt to duplicate Dreyfus's handwriting, which was precisely the same as the memo's. So, why isn't having a soldier's mentality a good thing in this case? For starters, it has the potential to result in an innocent person being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned! However, on a broader scale, the primary disadvantage of the military mentality is that it may cause us to lose sight of the truth. It's possible that we'll never see what's actually there or have our views altered for the better if we're too preoccupied with seeing what we want to see and looking for proof that supports what we already think. After all, why do individuals want to live with the military mentality in the first place, if it is so clearly harmful?
What causes individuals to acquire a soldier's mentality?
That question, "Why do individuals embrace a military mentality in the first place?" is a simple one to answer: it has a number of advantages. The mentality of a soldier has many advantages. Some of those advantages are purely social in nature. Others are affected by their emotions. When we come to the emotional ones, we'll talk about them. But, for the time being, let's start with what may be the most significant social benefit: a sense of belonging. Consider for a minute that you are a member of a small, close-knit religious group. Consider the possibility that you have lost your faith. It is not simply a matter of losing faith in this community; at least, it is not a matter of losing your faith if you openly declare that you are no longer a believer. It may spell the end of your marriage, the end of your family, the end of your friends. It may result in the extinction of your whole community.
It's possible that you'll reconsider your decision if you find yourself in this position. You may even resort to physical violence against anybody who challenges your religious beliefs. You will do this because you have a strong need to belong - a desire that is so strong that it exceeds your drive to seek your own truth. If belonging entails believing in something, then so be it. To be sure, this is an extreme example of the point being made.However, this is true to a lesser extent for every social group that you are a member of. If that group begins to believe that what they believe to be real is not what you believe to be true - well, then you may no longer be considered a member of that group. That is to say, keeping a soldier's mentality is a means of sustaining a community. If you stand up for your views and constantly follow the rules of the community, you will always feel like you belong.
The ability to feel a sense of belonging is important – but it is not the only advantage that the military mentality has to offer. There are also some significant emotional advantages to be gained. Consider the following scenario: You apply for a new job - one that you desire and that you believe you would like. As a result, your application was denied. So, what are your options? Do you acknowledge that, in all honesty, you weren't the most qualified candidate? In no manner, shape, or form! You convince yourself that commuting would have been too exhausting and that the job wasn't in the best of circumstances. In other words, your soldier's mentality gives you a sense of security. You may avoid experiencing unpleasant negative feelings by ignoring other interpretations of reality that may cause you to experience uncomfortable negative emotions.
This kind of event occurs on a regular basis — and it does so without our awareness. You do not have to choose to conform to your community in order to be considered a member of it, just as you do not have to choose to ignore unpleasant versions of reality in order to be considered a member of it. It's simply something that occurs. It occurs because the alternative is unpleasant or frightening, and your military mentality tries to protect you from that pain or fear. When the alternative, while unpleasant and frightening, also happens to be true – and when the truth is something that you want to maintain - problems start to ensue. This is the point at which the soldier's mentality starts to hold you back. So, how can you overcome your soldierly instincts and begin behaving more like a scout when you find yourself in such a situation?
Why is it important to practice being incorrect?
No one enjoys the feeling of being in the wrong. Indeed, one might argue that the military mentality is all about protecting you from having to deal with the unpleasant sensation of having done something wrong, or even of currently doing something wrong. Unless you are willing to reconsider your views, refuse to accept other interpretations of reality, or, in other words, constantly insist that you are correct, you may never have to face the possibility that you are incorrect... Scouts approach things in a different way. According to them, the most effective way to be right – not merely to feel right, or to think that you're right, but to really be in possession of an accurate representation of objective reality - is to become proficient at being incorrect.
Being excellent at being incorrect, however, does not imply that being wrong is the ultimate aim. The aim is to be correct: to be in possession of an accurate picture of what is going on. To the contrary, scouts, unlike soldiers, consider being incorrect to be a necessary step on the road to becoming right. Take, for example, the habits of a group of individuals who are very excellent at getting things right: superforecasters, in order to get a better understanding of how this works in reality.
Experts are always attempting to forecast the results of future events, whether it is the conclusion of the next presidential election, the probability of an economic slump, or simply the weather for the next week. And, generally speaking, these forecasters aren't very good at making these kinds of predictions. Philip Tetlock, a political scientist who has studied the subject for more than two decades, claims that the average expert's accuracy is "about equal to that of a dart-throwing chimp."However, he discovered that a tiny group of people are very good at forecasting. He referred to them as superforecasters, which was a fitting designation. These superforecasters produced forecasts that were 30 percent more accurate than those made by CIA analysts who had access to secret information, and they did it with nothing more than Google's search engine. Their forecasts were also up to 70% more accurate than those provided by teams of university professors, according to the researchers.
So, what was it that made them so special? What is the depth of their knowledge? Do they have a lot of experience? They have a higher level of intelligence. No, none of these things are correct. They were really excellent at being incorrect. It was possible for these individuals, these superforecasters, to gradually shift their perspectives as fresh information came to light. Then, rather than brushing their errors under the rug or changing the narrative that surrounded them, they would go back over them and reassess how they made their forecasts. This enabled them to gain knowledge, which in turn enabled them to make more accurate predictions in the future. In other words, they were very adept at being incorrect as a result of their practice.
As a result, being excellent at being incorrect has a number of advantages. The data that opposes their present views is ignored by scouts, just as it is not ignored by superforecasters. When they come across such facts, they alter their views, and they see their mistakes as chances: opportunities to learn, to adapt, and maybe to do things right the next time around. I'd like to make a brief aside: What happened to Albert Dreyfus, if you were wondering what happened to him? The last time we saw him, he was imprisoned on Devil's Island, surrounded by people who, despite his innocence, believed he was guilty.Right about the time he was sentenced to jail, a man called Colonel Georges Picquart was appointed to the position of head of French counter-espionage operations. He, like everyone else, was unable to uncover more evidence against Dreyfus – but, unlike everyone else, he let the evidence pointing to Dreyfus's innocence to lead him toward the truth rather than the other way around.
You may recall that Dreyfus was imprisoned as a result of a torn-up document that was found by a French spy working at the German embassy in Paris, which led to his arrest. In any case, the notes continued to emerge even after Dreyfus was imprisoned – and, as you may recall, a second individual was brought into question, who had a handwriting that was identical to that on the memoranda. With this information at his disposal, Picquart was able to come to the right conclusion: Dreyfus had been wrongfully accused. Other investigators, on the other hand, claimed that there were two spies, and that the second had learnt to duplicate Dreyfus's handwriting, which is a bit of a stretch. Picquart, in other words, behaved in the manner of a scout. The other detectives behaved in a military-like manner.
Picquart's scout-ish sense led him to a secluded location. The short answer is that we are in grave danger.Picquart, being an excellent scout, of course, did all he could to get Dreyfus freed. As a result of his efforts, he was sent on hazardous assignments. He even spent some time in prison. But in the end, he was successful because he was persistent. It took 10 years and numerous trials before Dreyfus was eventually freed from prison. The lesson of the story is that being a scout may be difficult, particularly when you're surrounded by troops. In addition, you should know that it is worthwhile, particularly if issues such as fairness and objective facts are essential to you. Picquart's determination to persist and fight on Dreyfus's behalf, despite the fact that it couldn't have been enjoyable at the time, meant that Picquart ended up on the right side of history - and that an innocent man was exonerated.
Scouts are always looking for ways to prove themselves incorrect.
According to the scouting community, being wrong is a necessary step on the road to becoming right. However, this poses a crucial question: how can you get more adept at making mistakes?
The first step is to recognize when you're in the wrong and confess it. As with any exercise, admitting when you're wrong will increase your capacity to recognize when you're wrong, which will, as you are well aware, improve your ability to do things right in the future as well. Some of history's greatest figures seem to be aware of this. President Abraham Lincoln, for example, would go out of his way to acknowledge when he had made a mistake. Here's only one illustration: In May 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant took the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg from the Confederate forces. Lincoln replied to Grant to express his congratulations on his triumph – and, in the letter, he made an acknowledgment that he had been wrong. After all, Lincoln had predicted that Grant's strategy would fail. Instead of staying quiet on the subject, he wrote, "I now want to make a personal admission that you were correct and I was wrong," in which he acknowledged his error.
You should attempt to get into the practice of expressing comparable gratitude to others on a personal level. Not everyone must acknowledge their mistakes, as Lincoln did – while doing so is undoubtedly a sign of good character – but acknowledging them by yourself is a crucial first step in establishing a scout's mentality and improving your leadership skills. Scouts, on the other hand, are not afraid to acknowledge their errors. They are actively looking for ways to disprove their own assumptions. Remember that scouts are looking for the most exact and objective depiction of reality that they can get their hands on – and that includes treating the potential that they are wrong as seriously as the possibility that someone else is incorrect. I'm curious to know what this looks like in practice. Allow Dr. Bethany Brookshire, a scientific journalist, to guide us in the right direction.
Dr. Brookshire made an observation on Twitter in 2018 and shared it with the world. She said on Twitter that women often respond to her emails with "Hi, Dr. Brookshire," while males typically begin their messages with "Dear Bethany" or "Dear Ms. Brookshire." Here's some essential stuff to remember: Dr. Brookshire's PhD is mentioned in her email signature, so anybody writing to her should be aware that she should be addressed as "Dr." Her tweet went viral, garnering more than 2,000 likes. Dr. Brookshire, on the other hand, did something that would make any scout proud: she decided to put her claim to the test by checking her email. And, as it turned out, her assumptions were incorrect: just 6 percent of women replied with "Dear Dr.," compared to 8 percent of males. As a result, she returned to Twitter and apologized for her error. Dr. Brookshire's actions are exemplary of scoutish behavior: the facts were more important to him than seeming to be infallible in his statements.
Naturally, the aim of her tweet was to draw attention to the fact that there is a gender bias in science – that women took her credentials seriously but men did not – and to express her frustration with this. Now, Dr. Brookshire's mistaken belief does not rule out the possibility of gender bias in research - far from it, in fact. The only thing it implies in this instance is that her perspective was incorrect, and she was willing to acknowledge it because she was dedicated to the truth.
Some thinking experiments to help you overcome your biases.
Everyone sees the world through a different set of lenses than others. As previously stated, Dr. Brookshire was looking for evidence of gender prejudice in the sciences, so it is not surprising that she discovered evidence of gender bias.Julia Galef, the author of this book, had a similar experience. She was, naturally, on the hunt for data that backed her thesis, which is that the scout mentality is better than the military mindset, when doing research for The Scout Mindset.
At some point during this period of her investigation, she came across an article asserting that possessing a soldier's mentality led to success. She quickly brushed it off as a load of rubbish. She looked into the methodology of the article and discovered that it was, in fact, faulty. But then she had an epiphany: what if the article had made the polar opposite case to her own? Consider what would have happened if it had been said that the soldier's mentality sets individuals up for failure. She recognized that she would very certainly have included the research in her book. This led her to double-check her references, and she discovered that they, too, were faulty in their methods. She was an excellent scout, and she didn't include this study in her list of references.
A thought experiment in which you assume that the data supports an opposite point of view and then ask yourself, Would I still find it believable? – was missing from her arsenal, which she now terms a selective skeptic test. It is possible to do a variety of different thought experiments in order to keep your natural prejudices under control. Remember, however, that in order for them to be effective, you must place yourself in an imagined environment and observe your response to see what happens.
Take, for example, Intel. During the year 1985, Intel was a memory-chip manufacturer that was going through a tough period, as its business was being eroded by Japanese rivals. The founders considered expanding into a different market, but the concept sounded foreign to them. They then conducted an outsider test, which is a kind of thinking experiment. They thought about what a totally new CEO — someone who was entirely different from them – would do in their position. The explanation was self-evident: she was getting out of the memory-chip industry. As a result, Intel has evolved into a microprocessor business. The status quo bias test is another thought experiment that may be very useful. When doing the outsider test, you are asked to examine an unknown scenario from the outside. This thought experiment, on the other hand, invites you to examine an unfamiliar situation from inside.
Consider the following scenario: you have the opportunity to accept a new, well-paying job – but you will have to relocate to a different location, away from your friends, away from the pleasant memories and stability of where you are now located. Is it really worth it? Your status quo bias is probably to tell you that it's not worth it at this point. Take another look at the situation: what if you already had that position and were reaping the benefits of increased pay and greater career prospects? Would you be willing to give it up in order to be closer to your pals back home? Perhaps you would, perhaps you would not, but the status quo bias test will assist you in making a choice that is not unduly affected by your preference for the known and familiar (or the status quo). Here's a brief recap: Given how quickly we went through a lot of semi-technical jargon in the last note, here's a short review of the terminology we discussed.
It starts with a test known as "the selective skeptic." You may use this test every time you're attempting to determine the validity of a piece of evidence. To put the evidence to the test, just ask yourself if you would find the evidence credible if it backed an argument or hypothesis that is diametrically opposed to what you desire to be true. That's all there is to it! The second step is to put yourself in the shoes of someone else. To succeed in this exercise, all you have to do is pretend that you are an absolute outsider in every given scenario, much like Intel did before it became a microprocessor business.
Third, we have the status quo bias test to consider. We have a tendency to get emotionally connected to the way things are. In a nutshell, we are prone to developing a preference for the status quo. To counteract this prejudice, suppose that a foreign circumstance – such as relocating to a new place and starting a new career – has become the new standard of living. When you encourage yourself to have a bias in favor of the unknown, you will be better equipped to combat your bias in favor of familiarity. Finally, three thought exercises that may assist you in challenging your biases are presented below.
Suggestions for assuming a scout persona.
You've undoubtedly realized by now that having a scout's mentality is difficult to achieve. Soldiers throughout the globe have a variety of advantages that scouts must be willing to forego. Not to mention that acknowledging your errors and proving yourself incorrect isn't always entertaining - at least not all of the time. This is why, on this note, we'll look at a method that will make it simple to be a scout.It has something to do with one's identity. That golden rule of dinner party conversation - the one that prohibits the discussion of religion and politics – is something you're probably acquainted with, right? Why are such topics not included on the menu? Have you ever considered it? The simple explanation is that they nearly always end in a heated debate or dispute. But why is this the case?
This is due to the fact that religious belief and political affiliation are frequently essential components of people's identities. As a result, when you criticize someone's politics or religion, you are not just assaulting their beliefs, but you are also attacking their personality. Religious beliefs and political beliefs are two of the most common - but anything can become a part of your identity, including your favorite sports team, the food you eat, and the music you listen to. Having your views become part of your identity may lead to problems. For example, when you take it personally when someone loves a different basketball team, or when they think your diet is ridiculous, or when they disagree that the Beatles are the greatest band of all time. When this occurs, when you begin to mistake what you believe for what you are like, you lose your ability to think properly. It is your intention to exclusively gather evidence that supports your point of view.
It's not impossible to create a scout identity and take pleasure in it, but it may seem like an easy answer at first glance. Having a sense of self puts you under pressure to justify your views. Although it may be difficult to maintain your views while being open to new knowledge and creating an accurate image of the world, you will always have beliefs that are worthy of defending, even if what you think tomorrow is different from your beliefs today. Although establishing one's own scout identity is difficult, consider this: do you know the sensation you get after working out or going for a long run? That feeling is similar to that of developing one's own scout identity. Yes, you're hurting, and yes, you're exhausted – but you're also pleased with yourself. You are certain that the long-term advantages will outweigh the discomfort and fatigue.
When it comes to developing your scout personality, it will feel similar. It will sting a bit when you begin to see your own errors or when you realize that someone with whom you had a disagreement is really correct after all. Though you may be experiencing muscle pain, take it as a sign that you are progressing toward developing your scout identity one step at a time.Last but not least, some advice: As a final step before I send you out to begin using your scout abilities in the real world, I'd like to go over some coping techniques that may help you deal with the growing pains of being a scout.I hope you find them helpful. Let's get this party started.
First and foremost, master the art of planning. If someone with a military mentality loses their work, they may persuade themselves that they were never competent enough for the position in the first place - that the employer didn't deserve them in the first place. When confronted with reality, rather than attempting to change it, the scout will devise a strategy for dealing with it.In this instance, the strategy would be to begin thinking about how to get new work as soon as possible after being fired. Another coping strategy is to seek for a silver lining in every situation. As a result of losing that position, you may no longer have to put up with your boss's furious outbursts or your coworkers' constant talking.It may also serve as fodder for an interesting story to tell at parties if you go on a failed date with someone.
Finally, here's a piece of advice: try to stay away from poisonous conversations on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. Instead, interact with individuals who seem to have a scout mentality, such as writers, journalists, bloggers, or anybody else on social media who appears to have your scout perspective. You never know what is going to take place. In reality, the author came across someone in just this manner — and, guess what? It worked! They've decided to be married! Oh! I'll leave you with one last thought about Albert Dreyfus. He was able to re-enter the military. He died in Paris at the age of 75, exactly 29 years after his exoneration, at the age of 75.
The Scout Mindset is a final summary of the book.
The most important lesson in these notes is that, although your military mentality provides you with social and emotional advantages, it also serves to obscure reality. You may learn to be a proud scout by being adept at being incorrect, questioning your own natural prejudices, and avoiding self-deception. Advice that can be put into action: Reach out to someone with whom you have had a disagreement in the past. What about that argument you had last month, or last year, or maybe even last decade, comes to mind? Was it in real life or on social media that it happened? It's possible that you've "updated" since then and that your opinion has changed. Then, why not reach out and inform them about the procedure in detail?
Buy book - The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef
Written by BrookPad Team based on The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef