Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You Are Probably Going to Be Fooled.

This person is trying to trick you.  Watch how easily he does it.

Julie's Mom has five daughters.

  1. Jana
  2. Jene
  3. Jini
  4. Jono
What's the name of the fifth one?


You probably said "Junu" because that would logically be the next name in the sequence and we naturally assume the question is about guessing the next name in the sequence.  So we miss the fact that the questioner did not actually name the mother, but instead described her as belonging to one of the daughters and one not in the list.  Ergo, logically, Julie's Mom must have a fifth daughter named Julie.

I've written a lot about propaganda and deception lately.  This word trick is an interesting peek at how someone gets you looking one way so that you miss what's really going on.

The numbered list pulled your eyes away from the key bit of information you needed to solve the puzzle which was in the first line.  We read past this line because Julie was a modifier of Mom and you don't pay as much attention to modifiers as you do to the nouns modified and the verbs in sentences. You'd have guessed it easily if the questioner had said "Julie has four sisters, name the fifth one," and then been given the list.  Even then, you might have taken a whack at the sequence because it was new and intriguing information and our brains are drawn to the new and unknown.  Everything else gets shoved into the background (such as the information that the mother of the four girls in the list was also Julie's mother).

This trick takes advantage of our trust that the person talking to us isn't lying to us or trying to deceive and our fascination with new stuff.  That's why presidential press secretaries say, "That happened a long time ago," when they really don't want to talk about something.

That's why presidents bomb aspirin factories when they want someone to not notice they've been hitting on the interns.  That's why the guys in the White House gave up some minor functionaries in the IRS and the Justice Department - to get a nice distracting new scandal going. Anything to get you looking away from the hearings about Benghazi is better than the press lingering over the behavior of the President and Secretary of state.  Better that the press jumps on the naughty subordinates in an unrelated department than at the big guy and his inner circle.

Bad people always want to draw your attention away from the really nasty bits that are going on right before your eyes.  And because people are trusting we are fooled.  It happens in families, It happens in politics and it happens in the spiritual world.  The devil does slight of hand and if we're careful he'll get us looking one way when we ought to be looking the other.  People are embarrassed when they are caught like that and fooled, but they oughtn't be. 

There is no shame on those who are tricked.

The shame is on those who do the trickery.

I'm just saying.

Tom King (c) 2013 


Anonymous said...

However, it does not say if Julie is male or female, I've met males by the name of Sue and Mary, so why not Julie?
Actual answer could be "not enough information"

Tom King said...

You do make a valid point, but Julie really is a girl's name and if the "Julie" in the question was male, then the question is really unanswerable because Mom might or might not have stuck with the sequence for the next name. She might have named the fifth daughter Beatrice for all we know. If the question has a right answer that you can determine just from the given information, then Julie is the only possible correct answer. Otherwise it's a riddle like Bilbo's "What's in my pocket?" riddle to Gollum and riddles do have rules my friend.

Allie said...

Jono is however a boys name