Worldwide School » TED Talk // Julia Galef: Why you think you’re right — even if you’re wrong
18/06/28

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?”

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Watch

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Glossary

  • stem from – to be caused by something
  • innocuous – not harmful or offensive
  • converge – come together from different directions so as eventually to meet
  • compelling – not able to be refuted; inspiring conviction
  • persecute – subject (someone) to hostility and ill-treatment, especially because of their race or political or religious beliefs
  • ubiquitous – present, appearing, or found everywhere
  • tribalism – the state or fact of being organized in a tribe or tribes
  • correlate (with) – have a mutual relationship or connection, in which one thing affects or depends on another

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Think about it

Answer the questions below. Pause at times indicated in brackets.

  • What are the differences between a soldier and a scout? Who is more important in the army? (1:20)
  • Briefly describe what happened to Dreyfus. What evidence was used in the case against him? (4:36)
  • What is motivated reasoning and how does it show in our daily lives? (6:11)
  • Who was Picquart and what did he do? (7:40)
  • What is the scout mindset? What are the motivations behind it? (9:54)
  • Do you agree with Exupery’s quotation?

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Practice makes perfect

Fill in the blank spaces with the words in brackets used in appropriate tenses/forms.

However, fortunately for Dreyfus, his story is not over. This is Colonel Picquart. He’s another high-ranking officer in the French Army, and like most people, he assumed Dreyfus was guilty. Also like most people in the army, he was at least casually anti-Semitic. But at a certain point, Picquart ________ (begin) to suspect: “What if we’re all wrong about Dreyfus?” What ________ (happen) was, he ________ (discover) evidence that the spying for Germany ________ (continue), even after Dreyfus ________ (be) in prison. And he also ________ (discover) that another officer in the army ________ (have) handwriting that perfectly matched the memo, much closer than Dreyfus’s handwriting. So he ________ (bring) these discoveries to his superiors, but to his dismay, they either didn’t care or came up with elaborate rationalizations to explain his findings, like, “Well, all you ________ (really show), Picquart, is that there’s another spy who ________ (learn) how to mimic Dreyfus’s handwriting, and he picked up the torch of spying after Dreyfus left. But Dreyfus is still guilty.” Eventually, Picquart managed to get Dreyfus exonerated. But it took him 10 years, and for part of that time, he himself was in prison for the crime of disloyalty to the army.

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