How odd to read a book where a single, simple change would’ve improved it immensely. The premise – applying economic theory to commonplace mysteries – is an interesting one, but in the introduction Frank shows its Achilles heel even as he shows the reader how he could have avoided it.
He discusses the mystery of Braille keypads on drive up ATMs, and posits that the manufacturer of keypad buttons would have to have made two sets of buttons depending on whether they were for drive up ATMs or stand alone models, and that this would be inefficient. A fair point, and one that hadn’t occurred to me, because, as a critic noted to Frank, I was aware that the keypads have to have Braille to be ADA compliant. But Frank seems to think the critic is missing the point by pointing out that the law requires it; in actuality the simpler answer means there was no mystery to begin with
If the book acknowledged that many of the questions it posed were thought exercises only, and gave the actual answers along with the economic ones, it would have seemed better researched and more thoughtful, and would have asked fewer questions that seemed like a reach – I’ve never wondered about hotel pricing in Sharm el Sheikh, thanks. As it stands, it seems disingenuous to answer questions definitively using theory and never acknowledging that there may well be a better answer. It feels like the equivalent of deducing that there’s a 50% chance the sun will rise tomorrow because there are only two possibilities, it will or it won’t.
If this book had examined whether its logical deductions matched reality, it would’ve won me over; in its current form it just feels like a missed opportunity.