## Sunday, November 19, 2006

### # A "freaky" game

I received a forwarded mail from my friend which goes like this...

"This is strange...can you figure it out?
Are you the 2% or 98% of the population?
There's no trick or surprise.

1) Think of a number from 1 to 10

2) Multiply that number by 9

3) If the number is a 2-digit number, add the digits together

4) Now subtract 5

5) Determine which letter in the alphabet corresponds to the number you ended up with
(example: 1=a, 2=b, 3=c,etc.)

6) Think of a country that starts with that letter.

7) Remember the last letter of the name of that country.

8) Think of the name of an animal that starts with that letter. Remember the last letter in the name of that animal.

9) Think of the name of a fruit that starts with that letter.

10) Are you thinking of a Kangaroo in Denmark eating an Orange?

I told you this was FREAKY!! If not, you're among the 2% of the population whose minds are different enough to think of something else. 98% of people will answer with kangaroos in Denmark when given this exercise. Keep this message going. This one is actually worth sending on to others. Forward it to people you know so they can find out if they are usual or unusual."

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Okay... I don't find it THAT freaky. In fact, it is just a mind game that make use of people's general common knowledge and common vocabulary.

Mathematical Part
Step 1 to 4 are basically designed to make us come up with the number "4".
By multiplying any number with 9, and adding the digits together, we will get "9".
Look at the pattern of the multiplication table of 9 (from 1 to 10)
9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, 81, 90.
Notice that all of them have digits added up together as 9.

In fact, this does not only apply to number 1 - 10. It applies for any number as long as it is multiplied by 9.
For example, take 564 x 9 = 5076.
Adding the digits together gives 18.
Adding the digits again gives 9.

General Knowledge Part
As restricted by the first part, we will always start our country's name with "D"
Let's check the list of the countries of the whole world, starting with "D".
We have "Denmark", "Djibouti", "Dominica", Dominican Republic".

Now WHO would actually think of a country other than DENMARK? (except those who actually knows the other three very well or are residents in them)

So we are somewhat restricted to animal starting with "K" in our next question.
Now let's see what we have got here...
"Kangaroo", "Koala", "Kingfisher", "Kinkajou", "Kodiak Bear", "King vulture", "Killer whale", "Kirk's dik dik" (whatever this is), "Komodo dragon", "Kori bastard" (sorry, i mean Kori Bustard)...

People who are not zoologist would be only familiar with the more common "K" animal. On top of that, most people are taught during their primary education that "K for Kangaroo". I don't know about the statistics, but according to the person who started this forwarded mail, there should be 98% of the people taught this way. ;-P

Assuming we are the 98% which get "Kangaroo", we now need to find a fruit starting with "O". What we have here are:
"Orange", "Oregon grape", "Olive" (well now I just knew that olive is counted as food), "Osage orange" (still orange), "Oncoba", "Opuntia", "Osmanthus"...

Okay, now who would have thought of those fruits with exotic names instead of the simple orange? Especially we are bombarded with loads of information in our daily life such as "Orange is rich with Vitamin C", or the Sainsbury's "Buy 1 get 1 free Oranges", etc.

Conclusion
This mind game is not as freaky as claimed by the writer. He/she just apply certain restrictions to guide the readers towards the way he/she wants them to think. And he/she made use of the general knowledge of the public about names of places, animals and fruits, which is subject to the way education has shaped us.

Though the game is not freaky, it is scary to think about how big the impact of education have on human, especially the earlier education when we are young. That leads me to think of how some countries brainwash their citizens via education since young and shape the generation of today. Scaryyy...

Z.J. said...

***你有没有收到我的明信片?

YD said...

Hey Z.J, I have not received the postcard you sent, although you have mentioned it quite long ago... wonder whether it's another failure of Royal Mail in UK? :'( they have even lost my housemate's traveller's cheque once.

Hehe, I was in the 98% group. Shows how little my geographical/biological/common knowledge is. I bet the Aussies would do better in the "Kangaroo" or "Koala" question. ;-P

The Moody Minstrel said...

I came up with a koala eating an apricot in Denmark. Does that mean I'm going to hell?

touxianjiayouzhan said...

Although you were in the 98% group, you are still the freaky serial killer :P

YD said...

moody is the 2%, hehe... the distribution is not as skewed as described by the emailer after all. or rather it is our sampling process?

touxianjiayouzhan, beware, i m going for you later. muahahha... ;-P

Chen said...

hehehe... I played with this game quite sometime ago.. I'm one of those in the 98% group too :P

Pandabonium said...

I did the same analysis as you as I went along, so by the end I realized the answer was being "forced" as they say in the magic biz. Interesting exercise - especially the way you disected it in the end.

This illustrates how discussions are framed and people led in many facets of communication - religion, advertising, politics for example - only much more subtly of course.

Happysurfer said...

Interesting little exercise, YD. How about in Denmark a koala is eating an apple? Oh gosh! I need a brainwash.

YD said...

chen
hehe, lokun seems to play a lot of forwarded mail games too, Until now I still can only remember Denmark as the country which starts with D. Just can't get the other ones memorized so easily.

Panda
Yes, that's what I thought! The revelation of this game is so much about 98% or 2%, but the underlying statement that shows how we can all so be easily manipulated. It is indeed quite unsettling to know that there is always someone trying to steer our thoughts or affect our sentiments in daily life.

Hmm... now it is getting more sci-fi.

happy
happy and moody has a lot in common, not only in the sense that they can come up with wonderful poems from word verification. haha =)

we need more people who think in 2% actually, to avoid being led unvoluntarily in many fields.

Kurakat said...

any philosophical 'problems' for us to squeeze our brain juice with? =)

YD said...

hehe kurakat, not for the time being, cuz not in the "philosophical" mode today. ;-)