Sunday, March 1, 2009

The puzzles, conclusions and an advise

solve the puzzle
The two puzzles that I gave here and here are identical to each other. The answers are as follows:

Puzzle 1:

You need to check two cards. Card A to verify if the numeral on the reverse of that card is an even number; and Card 3, to check if the alphabet behind the card is not an even number. Cards D and 6 can have any combination and that does not violate the rule.

Puzzle 2:

You need to check if the person aged 16 is not drinking beer and that the person who is drinking beer is at least 21.

Most of you got it right. Which might surprise psychologist Leda Cosmides. I took the puzzles from the book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell. Here's the extract (after jumping over the puzzle parts)

Vervets [a kind of monkey] have been known to waltz into a thicket, ignoring a fresh trail of python tracks and act stunned when they actually come across the snake itself. This doesn't mean that ververts are stupid: they are very sophisticated when it comes to questions that have to do with other vervets. ... A vervet, in other words, is very good at processing certain kinds of ververtish information, but not so good at processing other kinds of information.

The same is true of humans. ... [A]s psychologist Leda Cosmides (who dreamt up this example) points out, it [puzzle 2] is exactly the same puzzle as the A, D, 3 and 6 puzzle. The difference is that it is framed in a way that makes it about people, instead of about numbers, and as human beings we are a lot more sophisticated about each other that we are about the abstract world.

I am not so sure. If I have to go by answers given by you all, I would conclude that humans are equally good or equally bad at both abstract and the real world.

I would actually go further and advise all the psychologists in the world that perhaps it is not correct to conlcude or generalise based on laboratory experiments. The scientists who observe Vervets are doing the correct thing.They are observing the monkeys inthe natural habitat. Please do the same.Observe humans in their natural habitat and draw conclusions. Be sure to note the context too. A change in context may result in an altogether different conclusion.


Picture Courtesy: Steve Woods

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2 comments:

Serendipity said...

My advise is always: "if in doubt don't do it"

Tyler Shinnick said...

The answer you (and Gladwell) provide to the second riddle is incorrect. In the information given you know two of the people's ages, which means you don't need to ID them. You'd only need to ID the person drinking beer to make sure that (s)he is 21. With the people whose ages you know, the only thing you need to check is what's in the glass of the sixteen year old.

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