One of my Christmas presents was a book called Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, a somewhat intimidating tome that I am tackling on sheer momentum after successfully conquering Anna Karenina over the last few months. Confidence is high but this is exactly the sort of book I start with great enthusiasm and get bogged down in after 95 pages, not unlike Brian Greene’s The Fabric of the Cosmos, currently propping up a window in my bedroom.
12 pages in I mostly feel like I’m following what Kahneman (a Nobel prize winner in economics who is very fond of the word “heuristics”) is saying. But whether I go the distance or not, here is a sentence that I loved and that seems worth remembering for its own sake:
When faced with a difficult question, we often answer an easier one instead, usually without noticing the substitution.
Instead of reading Brian Greene’s book, you might want to track down a 4 part Nova series that ran on public TV during November 2011, also called “The Fabric of the Cosmos” and hosted by Greene.
I’m sure it covers the same things as the book, plus really neat animated graphics and clips of other very smart people commenting.
You can stream the episodes at–