While in Irag, Charles Duhigg saw the U.S. Army use a surprising tactic to quell a riot. Rather than lining the square with armed soldiers, the Army asked the street vendors who usually sold kebabs in the square for dinner to choose different posts for their evening sales. No food meant no street party, which left just an empty square where otherwise there would have been an environment ripe for a riot. The unique, simple, and peaceful approach led Duhigg into deep research about the psychology of habit — and resulted in his bestseller, The Power of Habit.
We sit down with physicist Alan Lightman to talk about his new book, ‘Probable Impossibilities.’