The Human Touch Following our instincts can lead us to some surprising places.
By Robert Safian/Managing Editor

(MONEY Magazine) – When I was in school, I wasn't much of a science buff: I took the courses I had to take and did well enough to get by, but I hardly had a passion for it. So when senior writer Jason Zweig approached me several months ago to pitch a story about the brain, I was a tad skeptical.

But then Jason spelled out the new research he'd found, and I became mesmerized. It was fascinating and illuminating--and fun. And best of all, it helped explain not only why individual investors make the same sorts of mistakes over and over again, but why the entire market reacts as it does to booms and busts. I gave Jason the green light, and he produced a terrific piece of journalism that you won't find anywhere else. (He even subjected himself to a bizarre experiment designed by researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and Emory University, involving MRI scans, Kool-Aid and a baby pacifier.) The fun begins on page 74.

Jason's story is typical of MONEY in one way: It was launched by one writer's innate curiosity. Many of this magazine's best articles start that way--with a hunch or an obsession or an intriguing question that has no obvious answer. Take "The Blame Game," which begins on page 110. Several of our staffers were talking among themselves about how our economy and markets managed to tumble so far, so fast. Whose fault was it? Senior writer Peter Carbonara and senior editor Jon Gertner then turned this parlor game into a no-holds-barred assessment of where we all should point the finger. Their conclusion: There's plenty of blame to go around.

The human factor also comes into play with our columnists. Consider senior editor Walter Updegrave's Ask the Expert, which begins on page 69. In a compelling, convincing way, he explains why he personally is bucking the trend and putting his own money into stocks right now. Meanwhile, on page 156, editor-at-large Jean Sherman Chatzky takes us into the world of real estate, a realm that she's become more and more fascinated by as home prices in the suburbs of New York City have continued to climb. Like all homeowners, she is concerned: Is there a real estate bubble? Even the makeup of the Ultimate Investment Club 2002 (page 86)--our fifth annual edition--was shaped, as always, by our writers' personal judgments about which investing experts they'd most like to hear from right now.

In the end, we all gravitate to those topics that make our pulse race a bit faster. I hope this issue's mix of stories offers you that kind of excitement. Please let us know. You can e-mail me at managing_editor@moneymail.com or write to me at MONEY, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020. Thanks for your feedback.

ROBERT SAFIAN Managing Editor