The Scout Mindset - Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don't by Julia Galef


scout mindset: the motivation to see things as they are, not as you wish they were. (Location 103)

As the late physicist Richard Feynman once said, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.” (Location 107)

our judgment isn’t limited by knowledge nearly as much as it’s limited by attitude. (Location 124)

Part I The Case for Scout Mindset

The investigation of Dreyfus is an example of an aspect of human psychology called directionally motivated reasoning — or, more often, just motivated reasoning — in which our unconscious motives affect the conclusions we draw. (Location 215)

“Must I believe this?,” searching for an excuse to reject (Location 220)

Being in scout mindset means wanting your “map” — your perception of yourself and the world — to be as accurate as possible. (Location 319)

if you get defensive or combative when you hear the truth, you’re not likely to hear it very often. (Location 350)

Psychologists make a distinction between self - enhancement, which means boosting your ego with positive beliefs, and self - protection, which means avoiding blows to your ego. (Location 460)

It also means demonstrating your loyalty to the group by rejecting any evidence that threatens its figurative honor. (Location 553)

present bias, a feature of our intuitive decision - making in which we care too much about short - term consequences and too little about long - term consequences. (Location 657)

The benefit also lies in the fact that you’re reinforcing valuable skills and habits. (Location 679)

when you tell a lie, it’s hard to predict exactly what you’ve committed your future self to. (Location 698)

Part II Developing Self-Awareness

And being able to explain a position “rationally,” as he put it — by which people usually mean that they can make a compelling argument in favor of their position — doesn’t mean the position is fair. (Location 807)

When you start from the premise that you’re an objective thinker, you lend your conclusions an air of unimpeachability they usually don’t deserve. (Location 821)

It’s a lot easier to say you welcome criticism than it is to actually welcome it. (Location 919)

What Dan did was a version of the “double standard test”: “Am I judging other people’s behavior by a standard I wouldn’t apply to myself?” (Location 1080)

this test can also reveal the opposite double standard — that you’re judging yourself more harshly than you would judge someone else in exactly the same situation. (Location 1090)

an outsider test: Imagine someone else stepped into your shoes — what do you expect they would do in your situation? (ocation 1108)

conformity test: Imagine this person told me that they no longer held this view. Would I still hold it? Would I feel comfortable defending it to them? (Location 1133)

the selective skeptic test: Imagine this evidence supported the other side. How credible would you find it then? (Location 1153)

Selective skeptic test: Imagine the article had been full of cherry - picked quotes from a group you dislike, such as conservatives. * How would you react? (Location 1161)

the “status quo bias,” a motivation to defend whatever situation happens to be the status quo. (Location 1170)

A bet is any decision in which you stand to gain or lose something of value, based on the outcome. (Location 1483)

Part III Thriving Without Illusions

A silver lining to any mistake is the lesson you’re going to extract from the experience, which you can use to help save you from similar mistakes in the future. (Location 1684)

Calling people’s beliefs “biased” or “illusions” without any objective standard of reality to compare them to is a problem that’s rampant throughout the research on self - deception. (Location 1742)

Over time, your situation will change, or you’ll learn new information, and you’ll need to revise your estimate of the odds. (Location 1857)

One is epistemic confidence, or certainty — how sure you are about what’s true. (Location 2056)

Separately, there’s social confidence, or self - assurance: Are you at ease in social situations? (Location 2059)

Part IV Changing Your Mind

The word admit makes it sound like you screwed up but that you deserve to be forgiven because you’re only human. (Location 2369)

But in many cases, there’s an unknown unknown, a hidden “option C,” that enriches our picture of the world in a way we wouldn’t have been able to anticipate. (Location 2598)

He calls it a “de minimus error,” an attempt to minimize the inconsistency between observations and theory. (Location 2658)

Part V Rethinking Identity

If you use epithets like these in talking about a particular issue, that’s a sign you’re viewing it as a fight between people, not ideas. (Location 3122)

it does mean that your identity is probably coloring your judgment. (Location 3124)


You can focus on humanity’s capacity for self - serving distortions of reality and feel bitter. Or you can focus on the flip side of the coin, the Picquarts of the world who are willing to spend years of their life making sure the truth wins out, and feel inspired to live up to their example. (Location 3678)

Version of the book

Galef, Julia. The Scout Mindset: Why Some People See Things Clearly and Others Don’t. Little, Brown Book Group. Kindle Edition.