Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Wrong Side...

I can't help it. I always seem to pick the wrong side to be on. I often take the popular opinions of a topical issue to task and try to present that which doesn't appear readily. The "that's ridiculous" point of view. Statistically speaking, these skewed versions of news events somehow turn out to be the ones which should have been adopted in the first place. I'm a hell of a guy. Or I have a trick. 
Well...I hate to admit it but...it is a bit of a trick. The rabbit never was in the hat. It was up my sleeve all along.

I had a friend once that introduced me to "Doyle games" as they are sometimes known. If you haven't played them, you have missed out on a fascinating way to wile away some hours. The premise is that one person presents a scenario, usually of a crime. It is the challenge of the other person(or persons) to solve the crime by asking 'yes or no' questions and receiving only those responses from the storyteller. This varies from '20 questions' in that there are no limits to the amount of queries allowed, and that the described mystery be of a 'Sherlock Holmes' type of conundrum. Hence the  moniker "Doyle". Oh, we had great fun. It is fun for those laying out the crime to watch the others wind themselves up and down dead-ends, knowing the one and only solution all the time. And it is fun for those trying to solve the crime and to do so as quickly and concisely as possible. A real brain exercise. There are classic crimes that were designed for this century-old game, and they are great fun. But I found after solving a few of them myself that it is not that difficult to create new ones, if you understand what makes them so difficult to solve. Most importantly, I found, is the inclusion of phrasing the facts of the case in language that forces the player to make assumptions that are not necessarily true.
"There is a dead body in a room with no windows and a door
locked from the inside, and there is a small pool of water by the corpse". That type of thing. When given this murder scene description, the brain automatically assumes many things. Many things that are not true. These assumptions can lead a detective off on the wrong path with many diversions and no 'yes' answers.  I think you can see where all this is leading. Aside from a great game that tickles and teases one's reasoning powers...it can present a very important rule to follow outside the confines of such an amusing pastime. Never assume.
I know...that seems sophomoric at best. But have we forgotten this age-old wisdom? Do we use it enough in our daily lives? Is there a need?
All good questions, that I will attempt to answer with a bit more than yes or no.
When you know that integral trick of the Doyle game, you can see that it is a pitfall to which most can and do fall prey, and on a daily basis. Assume that the homey looking and familiar face on your tv screen has your best interest at heart and she can lead you to many false conclusions. Ones to which you eventually will find a "no" stopping you from solving the real crime. Assume however, that she is lying through her straight and whitened teeth to pay the mortgage on her luxury east-side apartment...things become clearer, you get 'yeses' all the way to the real perpetrators of the "murder", and you win. It can be just that simple.
For another instance...you assume that when you are told that school children have been murdered, that there really were school children murdered. From that vantage, you will be asking all the wrong questions. And the one that made up the mystery will be laughing at you behind all of his 'no' responses.
So when I say(and I have many times here)that the evening news provides propaganda with just a hint of 'fact' to make it plausible, this is what I mean. You are given some facts, and you are given some deliberate lies and you are given some distracting half-truths. And it all makes for a detective game if you are so inclined to get the final 'yes'. 
All of this is possible if you are willing to take the wrong side of an issue from the start. If they say white, you assume black. If they say it's going to rain...plan a picnic.
In conclusion and to illustrate my point, I will leave you with a Doyle game that doesn't necessarily involve a crime(see how I did that?) This was the one that made that light go off in my head about the above mentioned trick:

A man moves into the 10th floor of an apt. building and quickly establishes a routine regarding his new home. He gets up every morning and gets ready for work, goes out to the elevator and rides it down to the ground floor, goes out of the building and goes to work. In the evening he comes back, goes inside his building and gets in the elevator and rides it up to the 10th floor and goes home.
On the day in question he repeated his path as always...gets ready for work, gets in the elevator and rides it to the ground floor level and goes to work. However, this evening he comes home to his building, gets in the elevator and rides it up to the 5th floor. He gets out and walks up the stairs to the 10th floor and goes home.
Why did he do that?

I now open this mystery to questions. 'Yes or No' queries only, please...


neal said...

The last time, did he leave the building? And did he start out on the ground floor, when rising?

Timster said...

Neal - Yes. Yes.

Anonymous said...

The guy is vertically challenged & the button for the 5th floor is the highest he can reach. Usually there's another person with him but he was alone that particular evening. Do I get a prize?
I am an elevator engineer & we get variants of this puzzle on lots of training courses! I haven't seen this particular one before though so I shall file away for future use.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of a riddle an old friend asked me when I was a kid. So, here's my guess, based on the riddle.

The floor buttons on the elevator go from 1-10 (I'm guessing there are only 10 floors here), and they're vertical. The guy's a midget, and he can only go to the 10th floor if somebody else pushes the button for him. There apparently was nobody on the elevator to push the button for him that day.

So, I guess I should ask, is the guy a midget?

Anonymous said...

Oh, man. I just realized that somebody else used my answer/question. Well, never mind.

Timster said...

Anon@5:22 - No fair! You are in the industry(grin). Yes. That is the answer. Of course we used to use the word 'midget'...but I think along with words like 'bum' (instead of homeless), that is now considered a pejorative.