Help!

Readers: I need your help!

More than once, my blog readers have proved themselves to be cleverer, smarter and more insightful than I am about a great many things. I need your cleverness, intelligence and insight now more than ever.

Yesterday, I delivered a manuscript to my editor at Houghton-Mifflin. Sometime in 2018, this manuscript will become a book. What it needs is a title!

The book is a compendium of puzzles and brain teasers designed to teach lessons about economics, statistical inference, and related matters. A recurring theme is that what’s “obvious” is often wrong. Here is a brief excerpt from the introduction.

The title should be catchy, clever, attention-grabbing and indicative of the content. What, specifically, should that title be?

Click here to comment or read others’ comments.

Share/Save

61 Responses to “Help!”


  1. 1 1 David Pinto

    Enticing Enigmas of Economics

  2. 2 2 Steve Winkler

    In the Shadows of the Lamppost

  3. 3 3 Thomas

    Econundrums

  4. 4 4 J-man

    Well, obviously!

  5. 5 5 The Original CC

    Beyond The Obvious

  6. 6 6 HM

    The Big Questions Quiz: Tackling the Problems of Life with Puzzles While Learning Some Economics and Math

  7. 7 7 Enrique

    Economic Mind Fucks

  8. 8 8 Mike D

    Uncommon Century

  9. 9 9 Chris F

    Clever, but wrong.

  10. 10 10 Lawrence Kesteloot

    Puzzlenomics (à la Freakonomics). The Puzzling Economist. Many books use the title of one of the puzzles or essays (Why do clocks run clockwise, etc.), so maybe post your table of contents here so we can pick the one that grabs our attention.

  11. 11 11 AMTbuff

    Twisted Thinking

    cover photo: Star Drop
    from http://www.thebigquestions.com/2011/05/09/star-drop/

    possible subtitle: Challenging the Obvious with Puzzling Perspectives

  12. 12 12 Ally

    Broken Windows and Negative Railroads: Puzzles of the Seen and the Unseen

  13. 13 13 Paul Walker

    Title: Obviously?

    Sub-title: If it’s obvious, it’s probably wrong

  14. 14 14 Paul A Sand

    “The Goat Behind the Door”. Assuming that’s one of the puzzles. Otherwise, I got nothing.

  15. 15 15 Jakub Rudnicki

    Intellectual Jigsaw Nuzzle

  16. 16 16 Jonathan Kariv

    I’m tempted to suggest “WRONGGGGGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”. But maybe “Broken Intuition” would be better

  17. 17 17 SBF

    I second Lawrence’s suggestion of using one specific puzzle’s name. That probably gives potential readers the clearest suggestion what they’re buying.

  18. 18 18 Alan Wexelblat

    I think I’d go with “Beyond Obvious”. “Beyond THE Obvious” is too straightforward for a fun-puzzles thing, imo, and the phrase “Beyond Obvious” is open to multiple interpretations.

  19. 19 19 pdk

    Title: Obviously Not!
    (Alternative Title: Obviously Knot)
    Subtitle: Puzzling Lessons in Economics

  20. 20 20 Raza

    Not SO obvious!

  21. 21 21 Tiago

    “On second thought(s)”

  22. 22 22 Daniel R. Grayson

    Title : Endonomics
    Subtitle : Cogito, ergo video
    Alternate subtitle : Insight through introspection

    I’m not sure “video” is the correct Latin for “I see”.

  23. 23 23 Robert

    What you know that isn’t so

  24. 24 24 Indy

    “The Great Puzzles of Economics” or variations getting rid of “great” and/or “the”.

  25. 25 25 Henry

    Do you have a puzzle that has (or could have) a name as evocative as “More Sex is Safer Sex”? If so, then that.

  26. 26 26 Josh

    Uncommon Sense: where intuition fails.

  27. 27 27 Mikebravoza

    Think again

  28. 28 28 LA-C

    Economical delusions
    Economical ilusions
    Economics behind the scenes
    Economic scene investigation

    If I come up with something better, I will let you know.

    PS By the way, “The Armchair Economist” (Portuguese translation: o Economista de Sofá) is one of the book that I recommend to my PolSci students.

  29. 29 29 dictum

    “Being Wrong is Fun”

    Alternatively, “Lubos was Wrong”.

  30. 30 30 Jonatan

    “What’s “obvious” is often wrong.”

    But otherwise this: “maybe post your table of contents here so we can pick the one that grabs our attention.”

  31. 31 31 GregS

    “On Day 100, Something Awful Happens”
    Well, that depends on a certain puzzle being included.

    “Unfair Play”

    “Unexpected Values”

  32. 32 32 Matt

    I was going to try to think of my own suggestion, but I can’t think of one better than 26.

  33. 33 33 Philip

    “Nope! A Non-Obvious Puzzle Ensemble” by Steven Landsburg

  34. 34 34 Paul Ralley

    “Common Sense tells you the world is flat”
    “Tragedy of the common sense”
    “What you know isn’t so”
    “Brain Ache”

  35. 35 35 João

    “That’s obvious, Mr. Steve”

  36. 36 36 Alessandro

    Something along the lines of no-brainer, e.g. yes-brainer, real brainer, whole brainer, etc.

  37. 37 37 Travis Allison

    Homo Puzzle-us

  38. 38 38 spaf

    Sounds very cool and Smullyanesque. Doubt you’ll top “What is the Name of this Book” for a title, but I second, third or fourth those that suggest you use the name of one of the puzzles.

    I assume you don’t have a pet name for puzzles in your classroom.

    A more specific theme than “what’s obvious ain’t” might be helpful, ala Kling’s “price discrimination explains everything.”

    With the little you’ve given, you’re probably going to end up with a lot of econ puns which may top out at serviceable.

    Do miss your blog, but this book sounds great and such puzzles were one of the highlights of it. I’ll buy the thing whatever you call it.

  39. 39 39 Richard D.

    “The book is a compendium of puzzles and brain teasers designed to teach lessons about economics, statistical inference, and related matters. A recurring theme is that what’s “obvious” is often wrong.”

    Every item, in any retail store, is priced such that every
    party in the production and delivery path gets a cut; manuf’r,
    distributor, retailer. That bottle of shampoo cost $2.50 to
    make, the mark-up to $4 represents the profit everyone will
    take, if you buy.
    If they’re making money, logic says that you are taking a
    loss… on every purchase. Because you’re over-paying, above
    the true value. Therefore, the only way to protect yourself,
    as a consumer, is never to buy anything! You make no profit,
    break-even is the best you can do.

    Isn’t it obvious?

  40. 40 40 Rod Harris

    Teens and Young Adults?

    “Well…Actually…It Works Like This”
    “Amazingly Fun Facts and Games about Economics”
    “The Economics IQ Builder”
    “The Economical IQ Builder”
    “Puzzling with Economics”

  41. 41 41 Shawn S

    Thinking Games

  42. 42 42 Benjamin Karlin

    How about last sentence of the intro- “Why puzzles are fun and economics is important”.

  43. 43 43 Ken B

    That’s Peculiar

  44. 44 44 Scott F

    An Economist, a Priest, and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar… and Other Puzzles to Make your Head Hurt.

  45. 45 45 Capt. J Parker

    Beancounterintuitive

  46. 46 46 Dave B

    “Restating the Obvious”

  47. 47 47 Ken B

    This one is a bit of the wall

    Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered:
    The puzzles of being rational

  48. 48 48 Ken B

    There’s No Such Thing as a Free Puzzle

  49. 49 49 Ken B

    Not that it’s any help but the very best economics book title ever was

    The Invisible Hook: The Hidden Economics of Pirates
    by Peter Leeson

    I tried playing around with the parameters on this bit of genius, but the best I came up with is

    Hiding in Plain Sight: the hidden puzzles of economics

    but it might jog someone’s creativity.

  50. 50 50 iceman

    Think Again

    Riddle Me This

    The Man Who Can’t Be Taxed :)

    #3 (Econundrums) clever

  51. 51 51 Romans

    Correct Answers to Simple Questions

  52. 52 52 Will A

    Obvious Conundrums
    The secrets the fat cats on Wall Street don’t want you to know.

    Or just

    Obvious Conundrums

  53. 53 53 burger flipper

    “What is the price of this book?”

  54. 54 54 Robert Ferguson

    Reality is Unreal

  55. 55 55 nobody.really

    Clever, but wrong.

    How ’bout “Obvious … but Wrong”?

  56. 56 56 Henri Hein

    You could channel Mencken and call it “Neat, Plausible, and Wrong.”

    Uncommon Sense is good, but also a little worn. For what it is worth, I find the presence of “and other” a turn-off, in title or sub-title.

  57. 57 57 Windypundit

    Small Questions: Puzzles about the world
    Solving the World: Economics and other puzzles
    Simple Questions With Complex Answers

  58. 58 58 John Faben

    I came here to add another vote for a title based around the theme of one of the puzzles. Some of the better books in this sort of genre have titles along these lines (More Sex is Safer Sex; Why Does Popcorn Cost So Much at the Movies? by William Poundstone.) and I think it really works to communicate the idea of the book.

    But I do like ‘Small Questions’…

  59. 59 59 David E. Wallin

    If you’re feeling it is really good:

    “Martin Gardner Would Have Liked This”

  60. 60 60 David E. Wallin

    BTW, I’m hoping some day someone calculates a new important value and calls it the Gardner Constant.

  61. 61 61 Karst

    The obvious is often wrong: puzzles in economics, math,physics, and philosophy.

Leave a Reply