I never imagined that someone I knew personally would become the victim of a horrible rage murder, but while I was writing my book, Why We Snap, the unthinkable happened. I tell the tragic story of the savage killing of Geoff Farrar by David DiPaolo at Carderock, a popular rock climbing area near my home, as a vivid example of the type of perplexing rage killing involving two very close friends that fill the daily news. Knowing the two men personally enabled me to provide their backstories for a perspective that is almost always missing from such shocking news accounts. But I had to tell the story as a “who done it,” because I did not want to undermine the trial in any way. I knew exactly what had happened from my interviews with the people involved, but until the frustratingly slow wheels of justice could reach their conclusion, I had to maintain the presumption of innocence and preserve testimony for court.
If you have ever been backpacking you know the problem neuroscientist Mathias Pessiglione and his colleagues are interested in solving–when to take a break. This subtle question may seem trivial at first, until you realize that this decision-making process affects every one of us, every day, in everything we do, and yet we don’t know how we do it. Whether you are an athlete or a desk jockey, success in your endeavor hinges on allocating your effort and rest periods optimally. In the extreme, this decision can be perilous. High altitude mountain climbers, who operate at the limits of human endurance and physiology in the freezing low-oxygen environment of the world’s highest mountains, manage rests rigorously (even down to taking rest intervals every few paces), but even long-haul truck drivers grapple with this decision as a potential life-or-death matter.