Einstein's Riddle

Tim Peters tim.one at home.com
Mon Mar 12 04:59:08 CET 2001


[Gregory Jorgensen]
> The 2% that can solve it must be psychic or deranged. The riddle
> as posed is not solvable.
> ...
> But only four types of pet are mentioned: dogs, birds, cats, horse. We
> have no evidence that any of the five owns fish.
>
> More telling: how many people can't quickly determine that this puzzle is
> unsolvable?

It's a std feature of "advanced" IQ tests that the problem stmts are
intentionally somewhat vague:  part of what they're testing is whether you
can come up with the most reasonable assumptions necessary to make the
problem *interesting*.  Since the problem statement here asked "Who owns the
fish?", and the problem admits of a unique solution if you assume *someone*
owns a fish, that's a more interesting assumption to make than to complain
that the question is ill-defined; the ability to fill in gaps reasonably is
as much a kind of intelligence as the ability to follow chains of reasoning.

You could cover both cheeks by answering "if anyone owns a fish, it must be
the German".  Then again, you may prefer to complain that "on the left of"
doesn't necessarily imply adjacent to; or that the problem statement never
says that a person who "lives in" a house is also its "owner"; or etc etc.

reading-a-question-as-trivial-is-best-reserved-for-saints-ly y'rs  - tim





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