Julia Galef is a leader among those promoting a revival of rationality in private discussion and public discourse. Like IBT aiming at sub-conscious attitudes, Galef urges us to be alert to our universally shared cognitive biases. A central theme in her book “The Scout Mindset” is that we would do well on occasion to “hide our identity”, namely to consider that we should challenge our confidence in our views, and interact with others in manners that reveal this self-challenge. She asks us to assess each of our actions on two axes:
1. Do they have beneficial or detrimental impacts?
2. Do they boost or challenge our identity?
She encourages actions with positive effects that also boost both our self-perception and how others see us (and it’s fine to announce these activities, but in a reserved manner). In some contexts, she suggests that we take stances that remove any emphasis on our identity. When we are not in tune with others on certain subjects, if we are able to discover any common ground, and even collaborate with compromise, at least initially, positive impacts can result. Likewise, while trying to convince others to accept our views, we step away from ourselves (“hiding our identity”) by first putting ourselves in their shoes and even seek compliments from them on how well we express their views.
A simple graphic, below, from Galef’s “The Scout Mindset,” illustrates the position of various activities on the two axes. Avoid the upper left sector: With those already on your side, criticizing them when they exhibit or express something less than perfect may further validate your identity, but is likely to have negative impacts.
Unfortunately, the respect for the authority of the guide was eroded for many participants in the IBT course due to occasional explict criticisms, but more fundamentaly, due to the foundational premises of the course, which were out of step with the particpants’ understanding of their current self-awareness and of the character of their congregations.