Dear Matthew Alice: My pa sez, if ya read it in the Reader, it gots ta be true. So I have enclosed the following example of mathematics [list of winners to Reader puzzle #869], and I’m confused by the results as stated. Is this some of the new math (e.g., 2+2 = 5 for all large values of 2), or am I missing links? It says 47% of the entries got the answer right, 53% got it wrong; “of the 87 entrants, 73 were correct,” but then it lists 23 incorrect answers received. But 87 minus 73 is 14; and 73 is 84% of 87, making 14 only 13% of 87. So if the “47% correct” is correct, and “53% wrong” is correct, and 87 is the total “sample,” making A = 41 and B = 46, what did I miss, and how did I miss it? — Carl Ferguson, San Diego
Well, Carl, I’m sure everybody else is digging around for a pencil and paper, trying to figure out what’s going on, so in the meantime, I’ll say congratulations for submitting the only winning entry to Reader Puzzle #870, titled “What’s Wrong with Reader Puzzle #869?” Your prize is a year’s free subscription, if you don’t mind picking it up every week at the nearest convenience store. We tried getting it in the mail, but just couldn’t manage the nine-digit ZIP code. I think we were subtracting the last four digits from the first five, and the paper kept ending up in Virginia. We do like Pa Ferguson’s attitude and wonder if he’d be interested in filling a vacancy in the Reader puzzle department.