Can You Solve This?

February 24, 2014 by 28 Comments

Can you figure out the rule?
Did you see the exponents pattern?
Why do you make people look stupid?

How do you investigate hypotheses? Do you seek to confirm your theory – looking for white swans? Or do you try to find black swans? I was startled at how hard it was for people to investigate number sets that didn’t follow their hypotheses, even when their method wasn’t getting them anywhere.

In the video I say “when people came to Australia…” by which I meant, “when Europeans who believed all swans were white came to Australia…” I did not mean any offence to Indigenous Australians who were already in Australia at that time. Please accept my apologies for the poor phrasing if you were offended by it.

This video was inspired by The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb and filmed by my mum. Thanks mum!

Partly my motivation came from responses to my Facebook videos – social media marketers saying ‘Facebook ads have worked for me so there can’t be fake likes.’ Just because you have only seen white swans, doesn’t mean there are no black ones. And in fact marketers are only looking for white swans. They think it was invalid of me to make the fake Virtual Cat page: ‘well of course if it’s a low quality page you’re going to get low quality likes.’ But my point is this is black swan bait, something they would never make because their theory is confident in the exclusive existence of white swans.


28 Replies to “Can You Solve This?”

  1. What i saw in 3.36 …is it

  2. Farhad Fana says:

    Hey was this filmed in Ambleside, West Vancouver? Looks familiar!

  3. Pluasok says:

    This is just awesome!!

  4. Rice Silew says:

    Grrr. I was going to do: 16, 32, 64
    2, 1, 1/2 (does not follow the pattern)
    0, 0 0 (???)

  5. "If you think something is true, you should try as hard as you can to disprove it. Only then can you really get at the truth and not fool yourself." That's a hell of a good quote, dude.

  6. My rule: Any three increasing set of numbers.
    I have read about this experiment.

  7. I find that rule of ascending order dumb enough. That's why I doesn't bothered about it.

  8. My Rule : 2 4 8
    20 40 80
    200 400 800
    2000 4000 8000

    And yeah, really these numbers are increasing….

  9. Dun says:

    At the most basic level, nobody can come up with a method(s) to prove to Flat-earthers beyond a shadow of a doubt that the earth is a sphere. I know they're stubborn and there's plenty of proof that has been provided to them, but clearly if they have a counter argument for everything, to me that's an indication the proof/evidence needs to be more convincing.

  10. It's very good politics advice to try as hard as you can to disprove your beliefs.

  11. Now that's the science logic i like xddd, great vids!

  12. David Acosta says:

    I got yall nerds one
    Does it follow the rule? Why or Why not?

  13. Okami says:

    I thought that it was gonna be 1+1=2 2+2=4 4+4=8 and it just keeps increasing based on the number the last one equalled

  14. toniodotcom says:

    I swear I got it instantly as soon as the first guy proposed a sequence of numbers that didn't follow the multiply by 2 rule.
    Very interesting experiment that I'm going to borrow.

  15. The coder in me immediately went for the negative test case.

  16. Damian Green says:

    Complex numbers cause a problem for this riddle because two different numbers can be considered ascending or descending depending on your perspective. Take for example the two numbers: 1 and sqrt(-1) . Which is greater?

  17. mike hep says:

    I got it in the first minute of the video.

    Where's my million dollars ?

  18. Shanu Knight says:

    Iam paused at 0:58
    2, 4, 8,14,22,32

  19. Black swan with a white reflection!

  20. If the saying "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" is true I think we humans have a problem. As someone who helps people with technical problem solving I was familiar with how most people fail to tackle problems. It is fascinating to me how people continue with the same approach even when it's proven not to yield results.

  21. Leo Yuan says:

    Rule: it is a number I know

  22. those oldies are gold intelligent