90% Fail to Answer This Correctly – A Deep Dive Analysis
90% fail to answer the above problem correctly. Is that a true statement? What is the correct answer anyway? This is a problem we posted on social media and this blog and MANY people hopped on the banterwagon! After 600,000+ YouTube views and 250K+ visits to our site, we realized this is a problem many people wanted to know more about.
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Full disclosure: We didn’t even design this problem, yet after we became the #1 Google result and top video on YouTube for “90% fail to answer” (and 90% fail for that matter), we started to be considered an “authority” on this topic. Although we don’t claim to know the real answer, we’ve learned a great deal about this tricky little question:
We even found someone was so passionate about this puzzle that they complained about a radio station who posted the problem…and referenced our video: https://www.scamguard.com/wave-105-radio/
Oops, we’re certainly sorry for upsetting or offending anyone! This post is designed to clarify this puzzle and get all of the facts out there for you to make your own decision. Or ignore the puzzle completely.
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The Wrong Answers
First, let’s get the wrong answers out of the way. If you don’t understand order of operations (or are just a bit mixed up), you’re likely to think the answer is 1. Although that is incorrect, here is how most people see it:
(1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1)x0+1 = 1
The thought here is that everything before the 0 is eliminated, leaving only 1 left. This is a failure to understand “PEMDAS” which stands for Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction. (Yes, we know about BODMAS for you non-US visitors.) Don’t worry about semantics here. No matter which part of the world you are from, it makes NO difference in this particular problem! For this instance, all we need to worry about is M and A, Multiplication and Addition. Multiply first and add second, and you are on your way to success!
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…or are you??
The second common answer is 12, which might mean you have a solid understanding of math, but just missed the fact that there aren’t any + signs after each row! This is not going to work…wait a minute, now this is just getting plain tricky. Not fair guys!
Now, there is more than meets the eye with this little puzzle. Which strategy do you follow? Your head must be spinning by now. Well if you watched the video we put up on YouTube or if you’ve been by here before, you’ll know we originally went with 30. This answer was debated rather heavily and we had a few crafty little “Youtubers” translate our excitement for the answer “30!” as 30 factorial even (30x29x28…). Yes, that is the world we live in! Anyway, here’s how we came up with 30:
Since there aren’t any “+” signs after the first two rows, read the problem in sequential order from left to right:
Apply PEMDAS (or just “M” first, and “A” second) like before, and now you are looking at:
29+1×0+1 = 30
After posting the video and this blog originally, we soon discovered that this “math problem”, if you can even call it that, expands well beyond the simple answer 30, or even using PEMDAS. Other answers started flooding in, one very valid one in particular. Strong voices such as mathematicians, engineers, and other math pundits demanded that the video and article be taken down, or be changed to reflect that 2 was the real answer.
By the way, this is a fun diversion, however we are actually a financial technology company focused on making real estate investing easier. We achieve this by providing free investor tools, so feel free to register to the site and give them a try. We also provide how-to videos, articles, and interviews with real estate experts to help you learn how to be a great real estate investor. Looking for something solid to invest in besides stocks? We are here for you.
So Maybe it’s 2?!
A comment on our initial post by user Jack Rosenfeld stated: “Having a cousin as a math teacher confirmed what I already knew. The only ‘legitimate’ equation in the problem is LINE 3. LINES 1&2 are meaningless and obviously put there to trick or confuse potential problem solvers. Nowhere in the example does it even IMPLY that all 3 lines must be used to obtain an answer, therefore the obvious solution is ‘2’, as follows 1+(1×0)+1=2. Math is simply nothing but logic and you can’t ASSUME things that aren’t stated. End of story.”
Since there are no = signs after the first two rows, and no “+” signs to connect them to the third line in the problem, all that is really relevant is “1+1×0+1=?” Perform PEMDAS, which means you work 1×0 first, and then you have 1+1, which is obviously 2. Ignore the first two lines.
So the problem ends up looking like this:
Simply taking 1+1×0+1 will give you 2!
What do you think? Did we cover all of the bases? Do 90% fail to answer this problem, or was that just made up? Our survey results below showed some interesting findings. Leave us a comment below and let us know what you think!
P.S. If you’re looking for more puzzles, check out our 80% Fail to Answer puzzle.
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