Pre Thinking

“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?” Official Ted.com web site.

Who Is She

“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. Julia’s background is originally in statistics, and she did social science research at Columbia and Harvard Business Schools for several years before becoming a writer for venues such as Slate, Science, Scientific American and more. For the last six years, Julia has hosted the Rationally Speaking podcast.” Official Ted.com web site.

Why you should view

Julia Galef investigates how and why people change their minds. Maybe you are not as rational as you believe you are. Possible? Scouts might say, “yes”;  soldiers probably would not. Intrigued? Watch.

Discussion Questions

  1. In defining Motivated Reasoning, Galef gives a sports analogy. Do you agree with the analogy or disagree with it. Explain why.
  2. How is the “soldier” mind set different from the “scout” mindset?
  3. How do you feel when you are wrong about someone or something?
  4. Three characteristics of a scout mindset are curiosity, openness and groundedness. What does she mean by groundedness?
  5. Julia Galef says that the scariest thing about motivated reasoning is how unconscious it is. Please provide one or two examples.
  6. Are people who change their minds weak? Explain your answer.

Making Connections

In Discover Magazine there is an interesting article on Motivated Reasoning with live links to other sites: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2011/04/18/the-science-of-why-we-deny-science-motivated-reasoning/#.V3vIe00UUdU

Why You Think You’re Right, Even If You Are Wrong with Julia Galef

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