**Results of Who's Saying
What?**

**The problem challenge:**

**Eight patrons at Zeno's one night last week made the following statement
each. The last two were made by our friends Maggie and Charles, but we're not told which
staement was made by whom. See if you can deduce which is Charles and which is Maggie!
Show your reasoning:)**

**Exactly seven of us are lying.****Exactly six of us are lying.****Exactly five of us are lying.****Yes, exactly five of us are lying.****Exactly four of us are lying.****Exactly three of us are lying.****My name is Maggie.****My name is Charles.**

**A nice response from David Buxton:**

**city: Oundle
country: UK
comments: This is pretty easy, when approached the right way. The "x of us are
lying" statements are examinable individually, by assuming that each in turn is true.
The easiest place to start is with statement 6. This cannot be true, because there
are 5 statements that say something different (and so if it is true, there would be at
least 5 liars which is an obvious contradiction).
Statement 5 presents us with a similar dilemma if we assume that it is true, so we know
that it is false.
Statements 3 and 4 can be treated as a pair. If we assume that they are true, we can
say that 5 of the other 6 statements are false. However, as in this case statements
1, 2, 5 and 6 and one of 7 and 8 would have to be false, this situation cannot be the
correct one, as this would mean that both the names given in 7 and 8 would be the same (ie
both "Maggie" or both "Charles". Therefore these statements can
be discounted.
Statement two leaves us in exactly the same position, as both names given would be the
same if it were true.
And so we come to the first statement. This is the only one remaining that could be
true. However, there are some other possibilities that need to be discarded before
we can make our final decision. One is that fewer than 3 people were lying.
This is fairly obviously impossible. Another is that all 8 people are lying.
This is possible, but, as we will see, makes no difference to the end result. And
so, if we assume that statment 1 is true, and there is no reason to discard it, we end up
that both Maggie and Charles were lying. Therefore, statement 7 was made by Charles
and statement 8 by Maggie. This is the same if all 8 people were lying, as this
simply means that statement 1 was not true either.
Final answer:
Statement 7: Charles
Statement 8: Maggie
David Buxton
Oundle School**

Note: Daniel B. Cristofani wrote Zeno's to protest the above finding. I agreed to include his response. Here it is, and fell free to offer your comments:

Most people probably said that Maggie and Charles lied, and explained

why. Actually it is impossible to solve the puzzle on the basis of

the information given. Notice that if the puzzle were soluble, then

after the first six statements were made as described, if Maggie and

Charles then decided, on a whim, to simply tell the truth about their

names, then it would be logically impossible for them to do so. Which

is absurd. So where did the reasoning go astray?

The problem is the implicit assumption that each of the eight

statements must be either true or false. Actually, once statements

get self-referential, it's easy to make statements, or sets of

statements, that are neither true nor false. One classic example,

slightly rephrased:

"1. Exactly one of me is lying."

Once we get into these waters, we can no longer conclude that a

statement is false merely because its truth leads to a contradiction.

Its falsity might lead to a contradiction also--or just to an untruth.

This last possibility is what makes the trap in this puzzle so

subtle. Even after recognizing the unpleasant fact that not every set

of statements can be consistently assigned truth-values, there is

still the tendency to assume that if there IS a way to assign them

consistently, then anything every consistent assignment agrees on

must be right. But consider the following distilled version of the

trap:

"1. Exactly one of us is lying.

2. Most fish live in water."

Although statement 2 is obviously true, the pair cannot consistently

be assigned truth-values unless 2 is assigned the value "false".

(Check it out!) If statement 2 were a less obvious truth, it might

well be believed false simply because that's the only way to avoid

open paradox. The "criminal" statement would then have managed to

implicate an innocent statement, while having a good chance of

escaping conviction itself.

(Note that in the consistent assignments for both the "fish" puzzle

and the original one, statement 1 can consistently be considered

either true OR false. Given all the other truth-values, it ends up

asserting its own truth and nothing else. This should be a warning

flag. The statement "I am telling the truth" is just as problematic

as "I am lying", the problems are just more subtle. The only

advantage of "I am telling the truth" is that assigning it an

arbitrary truth-value doesn't engender contradiction. But what are we

doing assigning truth-values arbitrarily anyway?)

Anyway, congratulations on an excellent puzzle.

-Daniel B. Cristofani.