Sep 29, 2021
You tried Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset, but the replication crisis crushed your faith. You tried Mike Cernovich’s Gorilla Mindset, but your neighbors all took out restraining orders against you. And yet, without a mindset, what separates you from the beasts? Just in time, Julia Galef brings us The Scout Mindset (subtitle: “Why Some People See Things Clearly And Others Don’t).
Galef admits she’s a little behind the curve on this one. Books on rationality and overcoming cognitive biases were big ten years ago (Thinking Fast And Slow, Predictably Irrational, The Black Swan, etc). Nowadays “smiling TED-talk-circuit celebrity wants to help you improve your thinking!” is more likely to elicit groans than breathless anticipation. And that isn’t the least accurate description of Julia (you can watch her TED talk here).
But Galef earned her celebrity status honestly, through long years of hard labor in the rationality mines. Back in ~2007, a bunch of people interested in biases and decision-making joined the “rationalist community” centered around the group blogs Overcoming Bias and Less Wrong. Around 2012, they mostly left to do different stuff. Some of them went into AI to try to save the world. Others went into effective altruism to try to revolutionize charity. Some, like me, got distracted and wrote a few thousand blog posts on whatever shiny things happened to catch their eyes. But a few stuck around and tried to complete the original project. They founded a group called the Center For Applied Rationality (aka “CFAR”, yes, it’s a pun) to try to figure out how to actually make people more rational in the real world.