Thursday, November 18, 2010

Presidents Should Fear July 4th

Bob glanced up from his newspaper, "Here's an unusual story, Tom.  It says here that three of the first five presidents of the United States died on July 4th.  I wonder what the odds are against a coincidene like that."

"I'm not sure," replied Tom, "but I am willing to give ten-to-one odds that I can name one of the three who died on that date."

Assuming that Tom had no prior knowledge of the dates on which any of the presidents died, was he justified in offering such generous odds?

This puzzle is from Lateral Logic Puzzles by Erwin Brecher.


  1. Well, the only reason they would say "three out the first five presidents" is if the fifth president was one of those three. Else they would say three out of four or three out of six.

    So yes, Tom was justified in giving 10-1 odds in favor of Monroe dying on July 4th.

  2. You got it Jay. The author would have gone with 3 out of the first four if he could have, so that means Monroe (the fifth president) dying on the fourth is a really good bet.


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