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Food for thought

Percentage of Americans who believe in angels: 55

Percentage of Americans who believe in evolution: 39

Percentage of Americans who believe in anthropogenic global warming: 36

Percentage of Americans who believe in ghosts: 34

Percentage of Americans who believe in UFOs: 34

Passport

What We're Reading

Preeti Aroon: Jessica Watson's blog:The 16-year-old Aussie is sailing solo around the world, nonstop and unassisted. She left Australia in October, headed northeast, crossed the equator last month, and is now headed south  toward Cape Horn, the tip of South America. When she’s not busy navigating her yacht, Ella’s Pink Lady, through squalls, she blogs, takes photos, and makes videos.

Elizabeth Dickinson: Peter Baker’s New York Times piece “How Obama Came to Plan for the ‘Surge’” is truly a first draft of history. Tracing back meeting by meeting, it becomes clear how the troop level decision on Afghanistan was debated, where the players stand, and how they agonized over each detail. Of course, what we don’t know but will certainly find out over the coming months is whether Obama’s team countered the many things they feared: an endless war with little to show, a resistant insurgency, a fiscal and psychological strain on the United States, and a repeat of the horrors that America remembers from Vietnam.

Blake Hounshell: War in a Time of Peace. Essential reading for those who want to understand the conflicts of the 1990s, David Halberstam’s 2002 work sheds light on the delicate line Democratic presidents must walk in dealing with their generals in an age of new conflicts and threats. I hope folks in the White House are reading it along with more historical studies like Gordon M. Goldstein’s Lessons in Disaster.

Joshua Keating: When I was preparing to interview fractal pioneer Benoit Mandelbrot for FP's Epiphanies, it quickly became clear to me that most of my knowledge of chaos theory came from the Jeff Goldblum character in Jurassic Park. I'm finally getting a chance to read all the way through James Gleick's Chaos: Making a New Science, which is a useful primer on the subject for the mathematically challenged and has some great history of the early days of chaos research, including the always fascinating Mandelbrot.  

Annie Lowrey: I’m nearing the very end of Stephen King’s Under the Dome – a long, excellent book. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to reading David Foster Wallace’s story in the New Yorker and Peter Baker’s exhaustive piece on the Afghanistan decision in the New York Times