Julia Galef describes herself as:
"...an author, podcaster, and speaker with a passion for good reasoning."
She is a writer and public speaker on the topics of rationality, science, technology, and design
She hosts "Rationally Speaking", the official podcast of New York City Skeptics and their bi-weekly podcast. As host she explores:
"...the borderlands between reason and nonsense, likely and unlikely, and
science and pseudoscience".
Massimo Pigliucci, who co-hosted Rationally Speaking during the show's first five years, now serves as an advisor to the program
Julia Galef is also co-founder of the "Center for Applied Rationality" [CFAR] a nonprofit organization devoted to helping people improve their
reasoning and decision-making, particularly with the aim of addressing
global problems. In it's mission statement CFAR sets out its stall:
"...human intelligence itself remains demonstrably imperfect and largely mysterious.
CFAR exists to try to make headway in this domain—the domain of understanding how human cognition already works, in practice,
such that we can then start the process of making useful changes, such
that we will be better positioned to solve the problems that really
In my view this is an excellent summary of what Julia Galef stands for and is a passionate for which she is a passionate advocate.
I first became aware of Julia Galef recently when I was undertaking research for an article on Improved Decision Making and I stumbled over a Ted talk she gave on two very different approaches to thinking.
She introduced the metaphor of soldiers and scouts.
For most of us our default position is the 'soldier' mindset, where we protect our beliefs aggressively and are blind to any evidence that we just might be wrong.
Julia Galef suggests that for us to be right more often, our behaviour towards new ideas need to be more like a scout rather than a defending soldier.
A scout will do reconnaissance and survey lie of the land. A scout will seek accuracy and will endeavour to obtain fullest understanding of all of the available information - good and bad - to gain a picture that most reflects the truth.
In her presentation and upcoming book Julia shows you how to:
- gather information from multiple sources
- weigh up short and long term gains
- overcome inherent biases
- transcend tribal thinking
- avoid self-deception
She explores why our brains try to deceive us and reveals how we can overcome biases so that we make the right decision more often.
Here is how she closed her presentation:
"...if we really want to improve our judgment as individuals and as societies, what we need most is not more instruction in logic or rhetoric or probability or economics, even though those things are quite valuable.
But what we most need to use those principles well is scout mindset.
So the question I want to leave you with is":
Here is a synopsis of her book "The Scout Mindset" together with reviews. Below is her Ted talk presentation about this.
Here are a number of touch points:
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