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   Transylvanian Fork in the road
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   Author  Topic: Transylvanian Fork in the road  (Read 2132 times)
Icarus
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Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« on: Mar 20th, 2003, 7:43pm »
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Oops! After posting I decided on a rewording, and figured no-one would have seen it in the very short time it was up, so I thought I would just delete it and start over. But upon deleting it, I discovered SWF had already replied! Here is the reworded puzzle:
 
The inhabitants of Transylvania are either humans, who always tell the truth, or vampires, who always lie. Unfortunately half the population is also insane, believing all true statements to be false, and all false statements to be true. Worse, you don't know the language. In response to "yes or no" questions, the inhabitants answer "bal" or "da", but you don't know which is which. The inhabitants all understand you, but refuse to answer in a language you know. They are very testy, and will explode in violence if you ever ask more than one question of them.
 
Indeed, while fleeing an angry mob upset by your questions, you come to a fork in the road. You know that one way leads out of this benighted place, while the other will lead you into the heart of the evil realm. There is a local standing at the intersection.
 
What single question can you ask that will show which way to go?


Concerning Transylvanian insanity: this does not extend to misunderstanding the meanings of words or sentences. Insane Transylvanians understand exactly what you are asking when you ask them questions, and know what the true meaning is of the statements they reply with. Their insanity only strikes when they try to decide whether the statement they are making is true or false.
« Last Edit: Mar 26th, 2003, 8:00pm by Icarus » IP Logged

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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #1 on: Mar 20th, 2003, 10:35pm »
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Ok, I retracted my post, since it no longer applies and was appearing as first in the thread- ahead of the question.
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maryl
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #2 on: Mar 21st, 2003, 10:58am »
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I know a similiar riddle; goes like this: A man is imprisoned in a room with no windows and two doors. One door leads to freedom, and one to everlasting imprisonment. There is a guard in front of each door. One guard always tells the truth, one always lies. What one question can the man ask one guard that will show him which way is out?
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #3 on: Mar 21st, 2003, 1:16pm »
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Maryl,
the riddle you have in mind is quite well-known and appears on the riddles pages in a few variations (with threads in the forum, of course):
Fork in the Road I, thread
Fork in the Road II,
mixed thread for FitR I & II,
Fork in the Road III,
thread
 
Icarus has obviously added a new and interesting twist to the problem.
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #4 on: Mar 21st, 2003, 2:18pm »
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Perhaps your basic question about a question would satisfy the whole thing. Making a vampire lie about a lie cancels the lie. Asking "bal?" about "bal" would cancel out a no. And the insane would see two implied statements, canceling out their insanity.
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Icarus
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #5 on: Mar 21st, 2003, 3:18pm »
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Thanks, SWF, and sorry about the mix-up!  
 
The "setting" for this one comes from a book by Richard Smullyan.
« Last Edit: Mar 21st, 2003, 3:54pm by Icarus » IP Logged

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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #6 on: Mar 22nd, 2003, 3:49am »
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After much mind twisting I am arriving at the conclusion that the sanity of the individual is irrelevent to questions that require a yes/no answer.  
 
An insane person will believe the opposite regarding the truth of a statement but, when giving a bal/da response, will also disbelieve the definition of bal and da, giving the opposite answer and thus 'cancelling out' the insanity.
 
Having said that. If they are taught in school that 'bal' is 'yes' and they don't believe it, what word *would* they use for 'yes'? They also wouldn't believe that da was the opposite of bal. In fact, could they be taught at all? Would they believe that it was good to go to school? So maybe talking to insane people is pointless  Tongue.
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Icarus
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #7 on: Mar 22nd, 2003, 11:57am »
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Ummm... There is such a thing as over-analyzing a problem!
 
You may assume that Transylvanian insanity does not extend to confusion over the meanings of words. (I know that is somewhat contradictory, but otherwise there is no hope at all if the person at the crossroads is insane!)
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #8 on: Mar 24th, 2003, 8:37pm »
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The *smart* thing to do is probably to ask the mob lots and lots of questions. And duck behind a rock or something while they harmlessly explode leaving a smouldering crater.
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #9 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 9:40am »
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Icarus,
 
The insanity thing is a little confusing to me. Are we saying that there's a 50% chance that the inhabitant standing at the cross-roads will be insane and therefore think that the way out is the way in?
 
As cho suggests, we just need to make a statement to the inhabitant that would make him/her/it believe that we want to go to the way out. The insane people would not believe it ... but how do the insane people know if something is true or false? How does insanity affect their interpretation of questions?  
 
I need to find the way out of this crazy land! Would you tell me to go right to get there?
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #10 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 11:14am »
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Just wanted to thank Wowbagger for the posts on this topic. It took me awhile getting back to it.  Wink
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Icarus
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #11 on: Mar 26th, 2003, 8:10pm »
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Quote:
but how do the insane people know if something is true or false? How does insanity affect their interpretation of questions?
 
 
Okay, I've added a comment to the (semi-)original post on Transylvanian insanity. It only strikes when the insane person is trying to decide if a statement he is considering making is true or false. For instance, he knows that "daja" means "dog", and when refering to a dog will say "daja", but when asked if "daja" means "dog", when choosing his answer he will suddenly believe: "daja" does not mean "dog", and answer accordingly. (This is why he is insane, not just really stupid.)
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #12 on: Mar 28th, 2003, 5:10pm »
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so whats the difference between a vampire & an insane person? if u ask them "does daja mean dog" both will say no, correct?
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Icarus
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #13 on: Mar 28th, 2003, 7:04pm »
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Vampires can also be insane.
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Re: Transylvanian Fork in the road  
« Reply #14 on: Mar 28th, 2003, 8:03pm »
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Point to one of the roads and ask (hidden text):
If I were to ask you "Is this the way out?" would your answer be "da"?
 
If he says da then that is the way out otherwise it is not.  I think that works, assuming someone insane knows what answer he would give.

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