A guide to harnessing a logical and emotional reason to help us live better in our post-truth world
Eugenia Cheng is terrified of flying. As soon as the engine revs up and the plane barrels down the runway, her heartbeat accelerates, her legs jitter, and her body floods with panic. Cheng is a mathematician by trade and she's well aware of the facts-she knows, for example, that there's a much greater possibility of dying in a car crash than a plane crash-but in the moment, she has struggled to keep calm. And she's not alone. Many of us find ourselves in situations where we must reconcile strong feelings with the conflicting logic we know to be true. Fortunately for us, Cheng has a solution.
In Thinking Better, Cheng shows us how we can use mathematical logic to complement our emotions and in doing so, transform the way we think about all challenges, big and small. Ask anyone to explain the word ” logic” itself and you might get a decent answer, but in reality, very few of us actually understand how logic works or the extents (and limits) of its power. When effectively utilized, logic can help us define the boundaries between our beliefs and connect the gaps in our reasoning. By clearly distinguishing what is logical, we're also better able to challenge the shaky counterpoints that don't add up-making it easier to spot and confront paradoxes, fallacies, and grey areas. Of course, there are also limits to logic: we can't use it to explain the arbitrary height restrictions of a rollercoaster, or help us make a quick decision under pressure. But ultimately, Thinking Better encourages us to employ these limits, and everything else that lies within them, to make better choices and more well-rounded decisions in our daily lives.
Whether we're writing a persuasive essay, defending a mathematical proof, or even trying to talk ourselves down from plane panic, we all stand to benefit from learning more about logic and how to use it to our advantage. Thinking Better provides us with a fresh way to approach the timeless battle of head vs. heart-so we can think, and live, better.