Tricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard Students

Inspiration

November 14, 2018 11:13 By Fabiosa

Students of mathematics are used to solving difficult problems, which makes it even more surprising when they fail to give the right answer to a question designed for 4th graders. Will you be able to crack the problem that many students of one of the most prestigious and famous universities in the world, Harvard, failed?

Tricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsTricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsDean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

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In his best-selling book Thinking, Fast And Slow, professor of psychology and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman shared a question that has led many smart people into a trap. Try and solve this puzzle, just don’t rush with your answer.

Tricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard Students

Think again, perhaps this question is not as simple as it appears? 

Tricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsTricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsNobelus / Shutterstock.com

Many Harvard students immediately gave the obvious answer – the ball costs 10 cents. And what was your answer? Has it occurred to you that this question was designed to confuse you into giving this answer? The correct answer is: the ball costs 5 cents.

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Solution

This simple question makes you want to give a quick, intuitive answer, and most people want to blurt out: 10 cents! But it's wrong. If you remember the basics of mathematics, you will understand why.

It is easy to calculate that if the ball costs 10 cents, then both items would cost $1.2 (10 cents for a ball + $1.1 for a bat).

Tricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsTricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsThe Len / Shutterstock.com

Let's assume that the cost of the ball is x, then from the condition of the problem, it follows that the bat is x + 1. This means that:

x + (x + 1) = $1.1

Do you remember how to solve such equations? As a result, we get the correct answer of 5 cents.

Tricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsTricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsNick Starichenko / Shutterstock.com

Besides Harvard, this simple question has been asked in many other prestigious educational institutions. And still more than half of the respondents gave the wrong answer. In less renowned universities, the amount of people who said that the bat cost 10 cents without thinking was generally 80%.

Tricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsTricky Task For 4th Graders That Stumped Harvard StudentsWAYHOME Studio / Shutterstock.com

It seems that many people are so confident in their knowledge that they allow themselves to rely on intuition. Did you give the correct answer?

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