Review of The Scout Mindset
Mike Smith | January 31, 2023 | Modern Library
In The Scout Mindset, Rationally Speaking podcaster Julia Galef provides a unique roadmap for avoiding errors grounded in the motivation for one's reasoning. Using a military metaphor, she describes two mindsets in approaching logical propositions, that of the soldier and that of the scout. Most of us default to a soldier mindset, questioning whether we have to assent to propositions that we dislike, and asking whether we are permitted to assent to ones that we favor. A scout mindset is simply concerned with determining whether or not a proposition is true, however, as when vetting the credibility of military intelligence. Although the soldier mindset boosts self-esteem, morale, and camaraderie, the scout mindset is essential to making good judgment calls. And while most people identify with a scout mindset, more often than not their behavior indicates something else. In this review, Mike Smith notes that this is where Galef's approach to critical thinking is distinctive in an otherwise saturated genre: Galef provides a number of external criteria and thought experiments for assessing the degrees to which a person really takes on a scout mindset. With this valuable framework as her background, Galef makes a persuasive case that the degree to which one exhibits a scout mindset is more of a matter of track record than attitude, and is contingent on the ability to imagine alternative perspectives as real possibilities. The Scout Mindset contains a lot of useful information for having productive conversations online, fostering an open mind, or communicating across different levels of understanding. This book is top of the line for those looking to improve the clarity of their thought.