The idea for Elements of Truth sprang from two conclusions I have reached about humankind: First, that common sense is not common. And second, that intellectual rigour is rare. Consequently, in 2008 I started writing down my thoughts on thinking. My goal was to write a book that is to thinking what Strunk and White is to writing. Confident, concise, and clear.
But writing that way is hard work. Clarity arises from simplification, and simplification arises from omission. How much omission could I justify? Omission was one side. Adornment was the other. Often when I wanted to describe a piece of the cathedral upon which truth is built, I discovered that the piece was just a rickety old scaffold. I then had to rebuild something stronger.
And because I am slow, all of this took time.
In any case, this book would not exist without the lives and works of the following people: Kimberley Wakil (my wife and the love of my life); Irmgard Rüdel (my mother) and Margarete Müllbacher (my grandmother); Dale Kolody (a solid friend); Enid Blyton, Heinrich Harrer, Viktor Weisskopf, Gerhard Hanebeck, Johnny Rotten, and Bob Geldof; Heinz Splechtna (anatomist extraordinaire), Charles Darwin, and Carl Walters (ecologist extraordinaire); Ludwig Wittgenstein and Daniel Kahneman; Ernest Hemingway and William Strunk Jr..
A strange group indeed.
Michael Baumann, December 2021