Ted (merovingian) wrote,

This Logic Puzzle Best Viewed With 3-D Glasses

Sneebles are a hypothetical species of sentient beings who live in a hypothetical world. They are perfect and instant logicians. They have big googly eyes that seem to jump right off the page, right at the reader. Some Sneebles have dots on their forehead and some don't; the distribution is random. However, if a Sneeble ever discovers whether or not they have a dot on their forehead, the next midnight, that Sneeble will explode iterestingly, with iridiscent sparks going in every direction. Sneebles keep in touch with each other and have good communication.

Quiz: A group of Sneebles are at a barbecue when a non-Sneeble (who is known by all to be incapable of lying) drives directly toward them, growing larger as it gets closer and seeming to move out into the intervening air between you and your monitor. The non-Sneebles calls out from his car: "At least one of you has a dot on his or her forehead." What happens?

In theory, all the Sneebles who had dots on their foreheads would explode beautifully with a fountain of light on the Nth midnight, where N is the number of Sneebles present with dots on their forehead. The rest would explode spectacularly the next midnight. The reason is because each sees the rest and knows how many have dots on their forehead, so if when don't all go boom in N-1 midnights, each Sneeble with a dot figures out that they've got one too, and explodes. The reason that the person driving by is causing this is that it sets up the base behavior for the case where there's only one person with a dot, sticking his tongue out at you, the reader.

In practice, though, this is absurd. If Sneebles had a shred of desire to survive, they would have seen this problem instantly. They'd probably all wear hats, probably propeller beanies which seem to spin in three full dimensions, just as a simple matter of safety. On top of that, though, some people would probably blind themselves using a painless but spectacular laser that shoots right out of your monitor and over your head, as a public service to the Sneeble community - which others would find some means to support. Sneebles wouldn't gather without these safeguards and, most likely, several others. And people who perform drive-by informings would get arrested by dozens of capable Sneebles who leap forward all in unison in a fantastic spectacle of Kung Fu kicks.

Instead, these Sneeble barbecues would be tragedy-free joyous events, with amazing fireworks displays, complex conceptual arguments with complete reason on every side, complex and beautiful epic poetry, and stylish but functional clothing.

Then the Sneebles would build a big, efficient rocketship that would soar into the air, while streamers fill the air and fly in every direction.
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