Why you think you’re right — even if you’re wrong

Julia Galef co-founded the Center for Applied Rationality, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping people improve their reasoning and decision-making, particularly with the aim of addressing global problems.

In this talk about our beliefs and justified beliefs, Julia Galef distinguishes between two methods, two mindsets: the soldier and the scout. These two ways of going about the world have different virtues. These methods have tradeoffs in both directions.

The soldier mindset represents motivated reasoning. This is a nice talk about how our personal commitments can impact our reality testing. And it’s fantastic that Julia Galef points out that the antidote to motivated reasoning isn’t the all too common canard of fewer emotions. The antidote, the scout mindset, is also driven by our emotional landscape. The scout mindset is rooted in different emotions.

Perspective is everything, especially when it comes to examining your beliefs. Are you a soldier, prone to defending your viewpoint at all costs — or a scout, spurred by curiosity? Julia Galef examines the motivations behind these two mindsets and how they shape the way we interpret information, interweaved with a compelling history lesson from 19th-century France. When your steadfast opinions are tested, Galef asks: “What do you most yearn for? Do you yearn to defend your own beliefs or do you yearn to see the world as clearly as you possibly can?”

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