11 December 2020

The Elements of Truth Project

I started writing The Elements of Truth a long, long time ago, around 2008. It came from the observation that among humankind common sense is not common, and intellectual rigour is rare.

Consequently, I wanted 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 from omission. How much omission can I justify? Besides, often when I wanted to describe a piece of the cathedral upon which truth is built, I discovered that the cathedral I had in mind was just a rickety old scaffold. I then had to go and take down the old and rebuild something stronger. And because I am slow, it took time.

In any case, this book would not exist without the lives and works of many people alive and dead. For the necessary causes: Kimberley Wakil (my wife and the love of my life), Viktor Weiskopf, Gerhard Hanebeck, Johnny Rotten, Charles Darwin, Ludwig Wittgenstein, William Strunk Jr., and Carl Walters. For the sufficient causes: Enid Blyton, Heinrich Harrer, Bob Geldof, Ernest Hemingway, Daniel Kahneman, and Margarete Müllbacher. A strange group indeed.

Michael Baumann, December 2020