Friday, June 21, 2013

Here's a preschool test that no adult has ever passed. Which way is this bus going?

You don't know? Well, that makes you pretty stupid, because 99% of all preschoolers immediately knew the answer, and the remaining 1% only got it wrong because they'd stuffed Cheetos in their eyes and all they could see was orange. It's going to the left. Let's let little Justin Crumpwhistle, a four-year-old booger-eater, explain:

"It's got to be going left because you can't see the door to get in! Oops. I just poohed on the dog."

Ha! Wasn't that fun?

Answer: Clearly, no.

See, stupid people try to avoid puzzles. Semi-smart people try to solve puzzles, can't, and then say, "My, how ingenious!" when they hear the answers. But truly smart people solve the puzzle, get a different answer, then complain that the "real" answer stinks.

With the bus conundrum, we haven't been given enough information. The smart adult assumes the simple line-drawing represents an actual bus. Which is why he answered, "Gosh, I have no way of knowing!"

When he heard what the "real" answer was, though, he realized the drawing was supposed to be the actual bus. He said, "Wait, so you're telling me this is a mechanically-correct representation of the alleged mode of transport? In that case, the answer should be, 'The bus ain't going fuckin' anywhere, because the wheels aren't attached to the frame.'"

So-called "lateral thinking" puzzles are the worst. That's where you're given almost no information, but through creativity and imagination you're supposed to devise a scenario that fits. When you hear the answer, you're supposed to think, "Wow, that's so elegant! It's the perfect fit!"

The smart person, however, often finds so many roadblocks to this "solution" that an equally likely answer is that everything is attributable to a paralyzed kangaroo. Take this puzzle, for instance:

A man is lying dead in a field. Next to him there is an unopened package. There is no other creature in the field. How did he die?

Answer: He jumped out of a plane. The package is his unopened parachute.

I can guarantee you that nobody with half a brain will come up with this answer. For one simple reason: if someone actually put their parachute into a "package," they're an idiot who could have choked on a turnip. A far likelier explanation is that the package is an iPhone box. Somebody saw the dude carrying it and shot him, but when he grabbed the box he realized it was empty.

Whoo! Lateral thinking rules.

A man walks into a bar and asks the bartender for a glass of water. The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says "Thank you" and walks out.

Answer: The man had the hiccups. He intended to cure them by drinking a glass of water, but the bartender did it by scaring him.

Me, I'm thinking a bartender pulling a gun on somebody isn't particularly elegant considering you can get killed for owning Skittles in Florida. Or is he another idiot, like in the last puzzle? Because he could have scared the dude by yelling "OOGABOOGA!" and there'd have been zero chance he'd be stabbed with a lime zester in return.

A man is lying dead in a field. He is clutching a broken match. What happened?

Answer: A bunch of people were in a hot-air balloon, desperately fleeing a communist country. Suddenly the balloon started losing altitude, and somebody had to jump out to stop it from crashing. This man drew the short match and had to jump.

I won't argue with this one. Instead I'll just say I would never have suspected that, while plummeting to his death, a man's last thoughts are frequently "CAN'T. DROP. TINY. MATCH. MUSTN'T. DROP. TINY. MATCH."

I think I hate puzzles because of something that happened to me in first grade. My teacher suspected that I was smart, so the school administrators took me out of class for testing. To this day I remember one question they asked me.

They showed me a drawing of a tree. The sun was to the left, and its shadow was also on the left. "What's wrong with this picture?" they asked me.

"Nothing," I said.

"That's nothing wrong with it?"

I shrugged. "Well, I mean, if you want a picture with fuckin' crazy shadows, you could do a hell of a lot worse."

They weren't happy, and as I carried the note back to my parents delineating my behavioral problems I realized you just can't satisfy some people. I've dodged puzzles ever since. Ironically, it makes one thing easy.

If I'm ever found in a field with a puzzle book next to me, just assume I shot myself.

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