Building my Scout Mindset: Introduction

by Miranda_Zhang3 min read16th Jul 2021No comments

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Personal Blog

TL;DR: I'm taking Julia Galef's advice in The Scout Mindset by semi-regularly reading and reflecting on articles that challenge my beliefs, with the hope that I will become more open-minded and intellectually generous.

Before you close this book, consider making a plan for what those incremental steps toward scout mindset might look like for you. I recommend picking a small number of scout habits to start with, no more than two or three. 

Julia Galef, The Scout Mindset (Conclusion)

After finishing The Scout Mindset, I dutifully followed Julia's advice—Julias are powerful in the EA community—and doodled stars by three scout habits that I would attempt to build. Specifically,

1. The next time you’re making a decision, ask yourself what kind of bias could be affecting your judgment in that situation, and then do the relevant thought experiment (e.g., outsider test, conformity test, status quo bias test).

2. When you notice yourself making a claim with certainty (“There’s no way . . .”), ask yourself how sure you really are.

 4. Find an author, media outlet, or other opinion source who holds different views from you, but who has a better-than-average shot at changing your mind—someone you find reasonable or with whom you share some common ground

Let's just say these aren't quite habits yet. For example, I've started a Twitter list to fulfil number 4 and it's currently populated by one account. 

Fortunately, as part of my summer internship with SKDK (a Public Affairs firm), I'm constantly plugged into the news. Typically, it helps to understand what our clients' 'opposition' is messaging, so I inadvertently get exposed to a lot of media from people who hold different views than me, like Fox News. I'm also learning where my boundaries of learning lie: reading ad hominem Tweets from anti-vax Rhode Islanders, for example, seems more likely to polarize me than not (perhaps unsurprisingly, senior SKDK staff also seem more likely to dismiss opposing beliefs).

On the other hand, I also come across pieces that challenge my stances—and yet include points that I do agree with. Given that I'll be continuing my internship for another month, I thought this was a prime opportunity to build up a scout mindset!

The Task

I will be logging articles of note here and listing points of common ground as well as contention. I haven't fully decided what format to take with these posts but I hope to do at least some of the following:

  • Conduct an 'ideological Turing Test'
  • Summarize main points of conflict in as neutral a way as possible
  • State whether I have changed my beliefs in any way; to what degree; and why/not.

I will be starting with articles that are more right-leaning, just because that's what catches my attention the most, but I should really be doing this exercise with media that is to my left as well. I do, however, feel the latter is of lower priority because I am already more left-of-center relative to the average American and because my social circle also tends to lean towards the left (to the point where I can easily and respectfully engage).

Reviewed

  1. 'Biden is putting politics ahead of stopping the COVID spread'
  2. 'No, social workers don't do better than cops at mental-health response'

To Review

  1. CDC Mask Guidance: Knee-Jerk Complaints Ignore Reality - Bloomberg
  2. Keto diets are a ‘disease-promoting disaster,’ researchers warn | WKRN News 2
  3. ‘Our Criminal Justice System … Collapsed’: Bill Bratton Says It Will Be ‘Extraordinarily Difficult’ To Stop America’s Crime Wave | The Daily Caller
  4. Don’t build more to solve the housing crisis - Deseret News
  5. Biden's infrastructure bill is chock-full of anti-white racism (nypost.com)
  6. Opinion | With a closer look, certainty about the ‘existential’ climate threat melts away - The Washington Post

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