Book Review

Solving Everyday Problems with the Scientific Method, by Don K. Mak, Angela T. Mak, and Anthony B. Mak Cloth, xiii + 189 pages, published by World Scientific Publishing Co.: Singapore/Hackensack, NJ/ London; US $40.00 (2009) ISBN 978-981-283-509-3

In this unusual, if not unique book, Don K Mak, the author of two books on financial market trading,1,2 together with his daughter and son, describes how the scientific method and logical reasoning can be used by anyone to solve everyday problems. This slim, well-organized volume contains clearly designated numbered sections and subsections that demonstrate how to employ information from our senses, redefine the problem, and see relationships among unrelated concepts to find solutions when no information is available for the given situation.

Over the past half-century psychologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists have concluded that creative thinking is not different from ordinary thinking. The authors agree with this consensus and answer the question, “Can we be more creative?” with a resounding “Yes.”

The heart of the book is the 88 real-life anecdotal examples that range in length from a paragraph to several pages each and describe everyday problems faced by a variety of persons with fictional names from different backgrounds and places (I suspect that in some cases the characters may be the authors themselves). The breadth and scope of the problems may be gleaned from some of the titles of the examples: Indigestion; Multi-vitamins; Swollen feet; Itchy skin; Bladder control; Common cold; Male impotence; Cooking (Cooking a dish involves many parallels with preparing a scientific experiment.); Central heating; Car skidding; Car tires; Gasoline prices; Hardwood flooring; Selling a house; Buying a house; Brushing teeth; Buy one, get one free; and Toilet training. Even the perennial age-old question of whether a toilet paper roll should roll over the top or under the bottom is included (Answer: It all depends).

I’ve been unable to learn where the Maks are based, but because many of their examples involve Canada, they use British spelling and Celsius degrees, and they are intimately familiar with the Canadian pension system, they probably hail from the Dominion.

If you, like me, pride yourself on saving more, spending less, and avoiding rip-offs (the motto of the Clark Howard show) and consider yourself an intelligent and reasonable consumer, you will find much food for thought in this book. Although some of the examples may seem obvious, merely show common sense, and involve courses of action that you already routinely pursue, you should find some new helpful ideas here.

This modestly priced, ingenious, and entertaining volume should be useful to teachers, students, and members of the general public interested in self-help books and behavioral psychology as well as graduates and researchers interested in problem-solving, creativity, and scientific research methodology.


  1. D.K. Mak, The Science of Financial Market Trading, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore/Hackensack, NJ, 2003.
  2. D.K. Mak, Mathematical Techniques in Financial Market Trading, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore/Hackensack, NJ, 2006.