Knights and Knaves is still beyond me   Leave a comment

When I was in fourth grade, I was introduced to the horror that is logic puzzles. I’m terrible at them, but I remember the answers like nobody’s business, which has occasionally granted me clues to future logic puzzles. The most famous logic puzzle is, of course, the St. Ives conundrum.

As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Each wife had seven cats
Each cat has seven kits
How many were going to St. Ives?

The answer, in case you don’t know, is one. Only the protagonist is said to be going to St. Ives. This blew our eight-year-old minds and taught us to listen better to the way the story is told* (well, it taught me, at least). But about ten seconds after you’re told that only one person is going to St. Ives, you realize that we weren’t told the man wasn’t going to St. Ives. Perhaps you met him on the train to St. Ives. Apparently St. Ives is a real place in the Southwest of England^ which you can totally go to.

Also, is polygamy legal in Southwest England?** The man has seven wives. I suppose they could all be dead. Each wife was around for her cat to give birth to exactly seven kittens. How did they ensure that, anyway? Did the cat ever slip up and have too many kittens, at which point the man slaughtered them all, cat and owner alike? What if the cat did the more typical cat thing and give birth to less than seven kittens? Or did the cat give birth to a litter of three and a litter of four, say, and then the owner killed everyone? How did the protagonist meet this man anyway?

You see the problem with logic puzzles? As soon as you apply logic to them, they make no sense and you end up crazy. Perhaps the man from St. Ives encountered the Knights and Knaves puzzle.

*you could said that it molded our young minds, and impressed our character and ideals! To understand what I’m talking about, please see Britches and Hose’ production of The Hound of the Baskervilles
^You know what else is in the Southwest of England? My collection of Lepidoptera! It’s the most complete one in the area, I should think! By the time you are through inspecting it, lunch will be almost ready. You are resolute then? Very well. I shall see you March 29 and April 5 at 8:00 and March 30 and April 6 at 4:00
**That would explain — haha! I nearly told you a major plot twist to The Hound of the Baskervilles, which you should totally see!

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