Friday, 7 June 2013

How Many Legs Does a Monkey Walk On?

You must have had this experience yourself, I’m sure. You get asked a question, and you work through the answer, double check it, are perfectly satisfied that you’ve got it right. Then the answer comes and it’s not the same as the one you wrote down. You think that you’re right and the QM is wrong . . . but . . . you start to doubt yourself. You don’t say anything because a) he’s put doubt in your mind, and b) there’s no point arguing with the QM anyway (not that that would always stop me). But whereas you were convinced when you wrote the answer down, now you’re not sure, and when you get home you just know there’s no point going to bed until you’ve checked it out.

I went to the quiz in the rugby club last night – well, it was Thursday after all. The QM was one of our semi regulars, and I’d describe him as a good, safe pair of hands. Maybe not the finest quiz you’ll ever go to in the club, but certainly enjoyable, and never that many wrong ‘uns to get angry about, or what the ‘ells to complain about. We were well beaten by the end, and the question in question wouldn’t have made a huge amount of difference had our answer been given a point. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lemurs who won put down exactly the same that we did. This was the question : -

How many creatures in the Chinese Zodiac walk on two legs?

So I wrote down the list of creatures : -
dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, pig, rat, ox, tiger, and rabbit.
Right , I thought, that means the rooster and the monkey – so the answer is two. I wrote down 2, and for good measure put Rooster and monkey in brackets. The answer given was 1: Rooster.

Well, as I said I wasn’t convinced that my answer was 100% right, so I said nothing. But when I got home and googled it I found out that the list I had written down was right. All of which begged the question – on what grounds was it rejected as an answer? I’m guessing that either the QM had forgotten monkey, or by mistake had not included it in the list. Or failing that, maybe a monkey really is classed as walking on 4 legs rather than 2 legs. However my problem with that is that surely monkeys only have two legs – and they have two arms as well? In which case . . . well, I’m sure you catch my train of thought here. I’m still not 100% convinced I’m right, but on the other hand I don’t know for certain why monkey didn’t count yesterday evening. Unless, as I say, it was a wrong’un. Over to you . . .


Richard Poole said...

Monkeys can balance on two legs but they always walk on four. The only primates (apart from humans) that usually walk on two legs are lemurs and gibbons, when they're on the ground, which they're usually not.


Michael said...

Scant consolation as this is, both I, and my other half when I asked him, came up with precisely the same answer as you. Richard's comment certainly makes sense however, so having seen that I'd agree I'm wrong and that 1 is the correct answer.

Would be interesting to know the QM's stance on it though, particularly whether they'd deliberately set up the monkey puzzle as an extra banana skin.

Unknown said...

There's a simple solution to this... don't ask ambiguous questions. If in doubt, bin the question and write another. Of course that wouldn't help you here!

Londinius said...

Hi Everyone

Thanks Richard. That certainly makes sense out of the answer given.

Knowing Clive, statatron, I'd say that he is unlikely to have thought of the - hee hee, let's catch them out with monkey - dimension of the question. He probably took it unquestioningly from a quiz book, and I couldn't blame him for that.

Hi Watergrass Jon - yeah, the basic problem is that you have to realise that the question actually IS ambiguous in the first place in order to bin it!

Newsmantone said...

This is very interesting. I am writing a similar question and changed it because of the ambiguity.

I was at a quiz and using your same logic, put two animals (rooster & monkey) and our team was correct in this case.

So I've asked for tomorrow: Of the 11 real animals represented in the Chinese calendar, how many creatures have less than four legs?

No ambiguity - but how many will say two, when it's actually three. I'm a git...

Newsmantone said...

But to my comment, is that wrong, then?! Does a monkey have 2 or 4 legs? Better not ask it...