The Stuff of Thought

February 9, 2010


I don???t read many books because television and the computer got in the way, but my friend kept referring to this book and it sounded pretty interesting. His last mention of it was the straw that broke the camel???s back. I was just going to check it out of the library, but the library that???s in the next block from my office wasn???t one of the branches that had it available. So to get my instant gratification, I instead trotted down to Barnes & Noble, where I was prepared to pay about $16 for the softcover copy they said they had. When I got to the store, I discovered that the hardcover edition was on the bargain table for $6.

Steven Pinker is the author, and the subtitle is Language as a Window into Human Nature. The summary on the cover flap is pretty dry; a reader review on the B&N website says, ???This combination results in a curious reading experience: Pinker’s lively style, many anecdotes and extreme lucidity pull you forward in the text, but the difficulty of the questions he raises could stump you for some time.???

That sort of sums up my impression of the book so far, now that I???m a whole 18 pages in. The first ponder that he presents is to think about how many events happened in the 9/11 terrorist attack(s) in New York City. Was there one event, a terrorist attack on America? Were there two events, two different airplanes hitting two different buildings. Were there more, including the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania field. You never really thought about that before, did you? Insurance payouts hinge on the answer.

I think this will be a pretty fascinating read.

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