Chapter 11: Inferences
Lab Activity 53: Making VALID Inferences and Avoiding Invalid Conclusions
To draw logical conclusions based on inferences made from the details presented.
Step 2: Read the following "brain boggler," and then answer the questions that follow it. When you have finished, return to Activity 53 in your book and write the solution to the puzzle.
Stranger than Truth
You have undoubtedly heard of those mysterious islands where half the inhabitants always tell the truth and the other half always lie. Nobody seems to have actually visited one of those islands, but everyone knows of someone who has, someone who found himself at the fork in a road with a strange islander (who could be either a truth teller or a liar) and who was able to ask only one question to find the right path.
That's simple. So is the case where the islanders don't speak English and you have to interpret their response. It's even possible to find the right road if half of them are zombies or psycho killers and you are armed with one silly question.
I once found myself on an island that made those places look like Romper Room. Picture, if you will, the Isle of Row, a one-acre forsaken swatch of desert in the middle of the Sea of Troubles. Despite its diminutive size, Row has no less than four kinds of people, all outwardly indistinguishable from one another. There are the members of the First Family, who always tell the truth, and the Pretenders, who never do. There are the Eccentrics, who may or may not tell the truth, depending on whim. Finally there are the Wimps, who are incapable of speaking unless they have heard one of the other kinds of people speak, and then they obsequiously chime in.
One day, as luck would have it, I found myself at the only crossroads on the island, facing four possible routes. Three Rowans stood by, milling about, and I had only two questions to ask in order to reach, as directly as possible, the fabled 100-foot Tower of Schmooze, the island's premier, albeit only, tourist attraction. What did I do?
Yours in pursuit of truth,
—Discover, January 1991, p. 98.
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