Science Magazine has now published a letter to the editor in response to the review, published in early October, of the big Monty Hall book. The letter writer is Simon Levay, of West Hollywood, California. Here it is in full:
In his Book Review “Two doors and a goat” (9 October, p. 231), the answer D. O. Granberg offers to the Monty Hall problem is incorrect. He assumes that the contestant should try to win the car. In reality, a car pollutes the environment and adds nothing to the car the contestant already owns. In contrast, a goat replaces noisy lawnmowers and provides milk, cheese, and (if absolutely necessary) a tasty curry.
Anticipating this very point, I was carfeul, when stating the problem in the book, to say explicitly that your goal was to maximize your chances of winning the car. Not a worthy goal perhaps, but that’s a moral question, not a mathematical one.
Interestingly, on the actual game show, contestants who wound up with a goat-concealing door really did win the goat. The contestant was given the option either of claiming the goat, or of accepting a one hundred dollar consolation prize in its place. In the history of the show, no one ever opted for the goat.