Skip to Content

Theory of Questions and the Cognitive Reflection Test

Whenever someone asks an esoteric question that appears to have an obvious answer, make sure to think twice. Here are six examples of questions designed such that your first instinct is wrong.

  1. What do you put in a toaster?

  2. Say silk 5 times fast. Now, what do cows drink?

  3. A plane crashed on the border or US and Canada. Where do they bury the survivors?

  4. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?

  5. If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

  6. In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?

.

.

Try to answer these yourself first!

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

  1. You don’t put toast in a toaster. You put bread!

  2. Not milk! Cows drink water.

  3. You don’t bury survivors.

  4. The ball costs $.05 and the bat costs $1.05.

  5. 5 minutes! There are 20 groups of these 5 machines making 5 widgets in 5 minutes, which amount to 100 widgets.

  6. 47 days! The patch doubles in size every day, so the second to last day is the day covering half the lake.

The first two questions play on rhymes, the third question plays on misdirection, and the last three questions come from the Cognitive Reflection Test. If you got any of these wrong, then congratulations, you’re one of today’s lucky 10,000!

10000