The Gospel of Well-Educated Guessing

Published in: The Chronicle of Higher Education on May 2, 2010; By Tom Bartlett

How much money is in a Brinks truck?

A lot, certainly, assuming it's full. But is it a million? A hundred million? Somewhere in between? Most of us, when presented with such a question, throw up our hands.

Sanjoy Mahajan sharpens his pencil.

To say that Mr. Mahajan, a lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a good guesser doesn't do him justice. He can start with seemingly zero information and, after some furious scribbling and rapid-fire explanations, come up with an answer that's close to the mark.

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