Are You A Giraffe? The Real Answer To The Viral Riddle
What are you like at riddles? Did you change your profile picture to a giraffe? Did you do so under protest? Here’s the real answer to the giraffe riddle that went viral.
For those that don’t know what I’m talking there was a riddle that recently went viral across a multitude of social media channels. There is debate about who started it. Some claim it to be New Zealand Vlogger Andrew Strugnell while others say it was his friend Tim Hodge. Facebook spread it quickly and lots of people were changing their profile pictures to a giraffe – the forfeit for getting it wrong.
The riddle is:
It’s 3am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors! It’s your parents and they are here for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open?
If you haven’t had a go at the riddle then take a few minutes to decide on your answer before reading further.
The riddle is designed to catch you out. It lists a number of items that you might need to open while the real answer isn’t listed.
In my last post, ‘Keep It Simple. Can Complexity Save Us?‘ I explored how we can often miss the seemingly obvious. When we’re confronted with something that seems quite simple we often fail to focus on the entire landscape during our cognitive processing. As a result we’re more likely to miss the critical detail.
Two answers have been circulating to this riddle. The first is ‘the door’. In order to let your parents in so you can serve them breakfast you must first open the door to the house.
However, in order to do that, you are most likely going to need to see what you’re doing. Therefore, the second answer that is circulating is, ‘your eyes’.
The Correct Answer
So, which answer is correct?
Both answers have been accepted as correct but in many cases only one of these has been deemed correct. Many argue that the riddle states ‘you wake up’ and therefore your eyes are already open. Others disagree and insist that ‘you eyes’ is the correct answer.
Here’s what I think: both answers are correct and acceptable. But….
They are only correct if you didn’t gloss over the landscape and you didn’t miss the critical detail. If you considered the intricate detail and decided that when you woke up your eyes were already open then it’s ok to answer ‘the door’. If you jumped straight to ‘the door’ and didn’t consider if you’re eyes were open then you missed the detail and your answer is wrong.
If you answered ‘your eyes’ and didn’t consider whether they were already open due to the way the question said ‘you wake up’ then, again, you missed the critical detail. The real secret to this riddle, the real value, is that it’s not about the answer, but about how you arrived at the answer.
It’s too easy to gloss over the landscape and miss the detail, particularly when a seemingly simple task is presented to us. Complexity can be a good thing as it discourages this act.
Next time you’re presented with a simple task, before you answer, take a few extra seconds. What are the second and third order effects? Can there be more complexity? Just by considering it like this you’re more likely to encompass the entire landscape and less likely to miss the critical detail.
Question: What was your answer, how did you get there and do you have alternative theories?