They say real choices are hard to make. Another way to put that is real choice-making is hard to find. Whether we are choosing a breakfast cereal, politician, or life partner, what seem like free choices often follow from unconscious cues and self-confirming biases.

Even Mother Nature can seem reluctant to choose, keeping cats both dead and alive, and running up a large multiverse tab. By some accounts, there is no such thing as time, or events, which means that what we experience as choices are just mathematical solutions to distant boundary value problems.

This is a message we resist. We spend billions on campaign ads that have little effect, and years rationalizing decisions that were not rational. Choice, as we learn in this issue, is both one of our most cherished powers, and one of the most obscure.

Welcome to “Selection.”