There is a wide-ranging interview in Strategy+Business with Nobel-winning economist Dan Kahneman. In light of flu fear, and the current panic about mad cow consumption, his comments about *homo economicus* and people’s tendency to overweight low probability outcomes are awfully relevant. As he says, “…the prospect of the worst case has so much more emotional oomph behind it.”

On a less serious note, the interview starts with the following question:

A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

Drag your cursor over the following blank area for the correct answer. The correct answer is that the ball costs 5 cents, while the bat costs $1.05, Most people say 10 cents for the ball because the original $1.10 figure separates so neatly into $1 and 10 cents. Was your initial response correct? Be honest.

Good Godfrey, that had me scratching my head for about three minutes. In the future, I will read questions like this more carefully!

Yes, it is fascinating how this silly little problem resists straightforward analysis. I had a long conversation about it with a very intelligent colleague here, and he was positively insistent that I was wrong. We finally had to resort to Excel 😉