Her core idea is that motivated reasoning, where we ignore what's true because our motivation is to preserve our current belief structure, leads to a soldier mindset aimed at defending our beliefs from that unwelcome intruder, reality.
By contrast, a scout mindset values truth-seeking through accuracy motivated reasoning. Our goal is know what is really there, not what we hope is there, what we'd like to be there, or what others want us to believe is there.
One of the appealing things about a scout mindset is how it provides us with way more options than a defensive, protect-my-beliefs at all costs soldier mindset.
In her "Why Truth is More Valuable Than We Realize" chapter, Galef speaks of tradeoffs.
We trade off between judgement and belonging. If you live in a tight-knit community, it might be easier to fit in if you use soldier mindset to fight off any doubts you have about your community's core beliefs and values.
On the other hand, if you do allow yourself to entertain those doubts, you might realize you're better off rejecting your community's views on morality, religion, or gender roles, and deciding to live a less traditional life.
Easy to say. Often not so easy to do.
I regularly get emails from people who are encountering resistance from their family when they express doubts about the religion they were brought up in.
For example, the organization I was a member of for 35 years, Radha Soami Satsang Beas, a guru-centered religious group headquartered in India. Traditional Indian families tend to be close-knit and hierarchical.
If a child decides to head off in a different religious direction after becoming an adult, they can be made to feel guilty, like they're doing something wrong and letting down their parents.
This is unfortunate.
Family bonds are important, but not if it means someone has to live a lie, pretending to believe in something that no longer appeals to them. Wise loving parents understand that their children, along with everyone else, have to find their own way in life.
Feeling like you have no options is an indication that you've fallen into a soldier mindset dominated by motivated reasoning.
It's difficult to imagine doing something different when you're encased behind a high thick wall of firmly held beliefs. Questioning their validity would entail peering over that wall and trying to determine how true those beliefs really are.
If they're found to be deficient in truth, you might need to find a way to get over the wall of your beliefs and explore new territory that reflects reality more fully.
There's no reason why you can't remain close to family and friends who choose to remain within the belief structure you've left behind. But sometimes there's a price to be paid for being independent: ostracism, criticism, shunning.
Everybody has to decide whether truth is more important than getting along.
But the way I see it, if someone is willing to ditch you for going your own way, they were never really your friend. Genuine friendships, genuine family relationships -- they're based on something much deeper than shallow beliefs.