Last week I followed an amusing Facebook debate about whether you should correct an innocent member of the public if he (or she) comes out with a piece of information, obviously wrong, that they’re very proud of.
On Sunday evening I was playing in a quiz – now there’s a surprise – and I found myself in a similar dilemma, but this time it was the question master who was wrong. The question in question was -
” Which are the only two countries to have hosted the football World Cup twice?”
Now, I’m quite sure that you, as did I, are thinking to yourself – hang on a minute! There’s more than 2.- and you would be right to do so. For the record, they are: -
Mexico – 1970 and 1986
Italy – 1934 and 1990
France – 1938 and 1998
Germany – 1974 and 2006
Now, OK, you could argue that 1974 was strictly speaking West Germany, but even so the fact is that you can’t argue with France.
No, here was the dilemma. John and I worked out that the answers he must have were Mexico and Italy since the chances were that he was working from a quiz book written before 1998. That’s what we wrote down. For the rest of the round I wrestled with my impulse to explain to the question master so that he would have the chance to accept France or Germany also, and thus not leave himself open to the accusation of not knowing what he was talking about. To cut a long story short, I lost. In the lull between questions I wrote out a list of the hosts of every world cup since 1930, and showed it to him in the interval. His response was an interesting one. Had he said ,
”Sorry – you may be right, but my book only said two, and so that’s the answer I have to stick to.” then I wouldn’t have said another word – well, not until afterwards, on the way home in the car, anyway. But what he actually said was,
“Yes, I thought that when I copied the question down, I was sure that France had held it twice as well.”
Which begged the question – well, why didn’t you go and check it then? No, I didn’t ask him that – I felt I’d pushed my luck far enough by correcting him in the first place. To be fair to him,
”You can have any two out of Italy , Mexico, France and Germany”. I give him a lot of credit for doing that, and not taking umbrage at being put right in that way. If I’m honest I can’t put hand on heart and swear that I would have allowed the other two answers had the situation been reversed. Mind you, had it been my quiz I would have checked the answers beforehand anyway, whether I thought they were right or not.
It was a good quiz, but we had one wrong, and I’m almost ashamed to tell you what it was. Still, we’re all friends here, so I guess I can let you into the secret. This is the question.
“A mother is preparing a meal for herself, her husband and their son (I know, but it was from an old book, I think) . She has five potatoes to share between the three of them. Without using fractions, how can she ensure that each of them gets an equal share?”
I can’t remember exactly what convoluted nonsense it was that we wrote down, but it wasn’t the correct answer. Mash them. Oh, the shame of it.