A woman depended on a public telephone to make her calls, but it was usually out of order. Each day she reported this to the phone company, but nothing was done. Finally she came up with a fib that she told the phone company. The phone was fixed the next day. What did she tell them?
She told them that people were making calls without having to pay.
A rich man's son was kidnapped. The ransom note told him to bring a valuable diamond to a phone booth in the middle of a public park. Plainclothes police officers surrounded the park, intending to follow the criminal or his messenger. The rich man arrived at the phone booth and followed instructions but the police were powerless to prevent the diamond from leaving the park and reaching the crafty villain. What did he do?
This is a true story from Taiwan. When the rich man reached the phone booth he found a carrier pigeon in a cage. It had a message attached telling the man to put the diamond in a small bag which was around the pigeon's neck and to release the bird. When the man did this the police were powerless to follow the bird as it returned across the city to its owner.
You and a friend are standing in front of two houses. In each house lives a family with two children.
"The family on the left has a boy who loves history, but their other child prefers math," your friend tells you.
"The family on the right has a 7-year old boy, and they just had a new baby," he explains.
"Does either family have a girl?" you ask.
"I'm not sure," your friend says. "But pick the family that you think is more likely to have a girl. If they do have a girl, I'll give you $100."
Which family should you pick, or does it not matter?
You should pick the house on the left. Specifically, there is a 2/3 chance that the family on the left has a girl, whereas there's only a 1/2 chance that the house on the right has a girl.
This is a very counterintuitive riddle. It seems like there should always be a 1/2 chance that a given child is a girl. And in fact there is. The key word there is "given". Because we are not asking about a "given" child for the house on the left. We are asking about what could be either child. Whereas for the house on the right, we are asking about a "given" child...specifically, we're asking about the younger child.
There are 3 possibilities for the children in the first house:
There is no "Girl, Girl" option because we know the house on the left has at least one boy. Since each of these 3 options is equally likely, and 2 of them have one girl, there is a 2/3 chance of there being a girl in the house on the left.
For the house on the right, because we already know the older child is a boy, there are only two possibilities:
And as we can see, there is a 1/2 chance for the house on the right having a girl.
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