A brain teaser and why you need to be careful about stories

A brain teaser and why you need to be careful about stories

By Rajesh Setty on Mon 08 Aug 2005, 10:53 PM – 1 Comment

Here is a classic problem that most of you would have heard from your childhood days

Three men go to a restaurant and have dinner. It costs them $30. They

pay the bill and continue talking. The manager realizes that he has

overcharged them on an item and asks the waiter to give back $5. The

waiter is not happy as they had not tipped him. So, he keeps $2 and

returns $1 to each person. Here is the problem: Each person actually

paid $9 ($27) and the waiter got $2 ($27+$2 =$29) so what happened to


Wait and think for a few moments before you read the solution



Solution: This is not

a mathematics problem. It is powerful story telling. Each person paid

$9 ($27) out of which $25 went to the restaurant and $2 went to the

waiter. That’s it. What the story teller did was to make you believe

that you need to add $2 to $27 and then the confusion started.

My point: This looks

like a joke. But there are hundreds of story tellers that are out there

telling powerful stories that have flawed logic and it’s easy to fall

into their trap. Next time you hear a powerful story, please look for

logic. Many times there is no logic but the story is powerful and will

make you believe the story and the ensuing assessment based on the



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One comment already – Add Yours

Anonymous  on August 9th, 2005

Very good point indeed. Also, the power of the story is function of the person who tells the story and we need to be conscious of this.

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