Book Recommendation: The Scout Mindset by Julia Galef

In the introduction for her new book, The Scout Mindset, Julia Galef defines said mindset as the motivation to see things as they are, not as you wish they were. This definition is in opposition to the soldier mindset in which we defend our currently held beliefs at all cost. Before I get into the book there is a TEDx talk by the author that gives a good intro to the topic.

I loved this book. It felt like a deeper spiritual sequel to The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan. With The Scout Mindset, Galef has created a kind of self help book for increasing intellectual honesty!

At the beginning of the book Galef lays out what the Scout Mindset is and how knowing about logical fallacies is not enough if you want to improve your thinking. She writes that, Knowing that you should test your assumptions doesn't automatically improve your judgment, any more than knowing you should exercise automatically improves your health. The introductory chapter of the book also goes over how finding out the truth isn't in conflict with your other goals such as general happiness. It is not necessary to deceive yourself in order to have good mental health.

Chapter five of The Scout Mindset goes through different thought experiments for dealing with motivated reasoning. With the Double Standard Test you simply ask yourself, Am I judging other people's behavior by a standard I wouldn't apply to myself? The Outsider Test asks you to imagine if someone else was put in your position and wonder what you would expect them to do. Using the Conformity Test requires you to ask yourself, If other people no longer held this view, how credible would you judge it to be? Other tests Galef writes about are the Selective Skeptic Test with which you can avoid dismissing evidence for opposing viewpoints. This is done by wondering how credible you would consider a piece of evidence if it pointed to the other side being correct. Finally there is the Status Quo Bias Test which asks, If your current situation was not the status quo would you actively choose it?

There is a lot more to the book and I would highly recommend it! You can also check out an interview with the author about The Scout Mindset before purchasing it. If you choose to read the book and want more from Julia Galef please listen to her podcast, Rationally Speaking.

That's all from me so thanks for reading this post!

This is my day 100 post for #100daystooffload

This work by Thomas Lloyd is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

RSS feed:

If you have comments / questions send an email to

You can also contact me on Mastodon where my account is