Web Stories: Guess a Number
by Mason A. Porter '98
I was working on my 95 homework with Vito Dai '98 when Julius Su '98, '99, Ph.D. '07 dropped by with one of his more interesting friends, who claimed that if someone thought of a number, he could guess what it was by counting the number of lines in that person's eyes.
Julius had been rather skeptical, so naturally he walked over to my apartment to prove his point. We tried to tell Julius's friend (nicely) that he was full of it, but he insisted that his mind-reading trick worked. We ran an experiment: the guy had me pick a number between 1 and 10 (but excluding 1 and 10), and guess what it was. Unsurprisingly, he guessed incorrectly. After all, the laws of probability were on my side. Then he asked if I wore contacts (which I did). "Oh, it doesn't work on people with contacts." He then tried it on Vito, asking him to pick a number between 1 and 5 (but not 1 or 3). He got that wrong, too. He then responded with "Oh, it doesn't work on Asians." (Julius's psychic friend, also Asian, actually believed this!)
We had been trying to keep a straight face up until that point, but after two failed predictions (one with a decent probability of success by chance alone), we started laughing hysterically and couldn't stop. However, this didn't faze our mind reader — he remained utterly convinced that his method worked!
Sadly, our homework beckoned, so it was time to move on to more serious matters. Armed with the knowledge that it was Prefrosh Weekend, I suggested that Julius take his friend on a quick trip around campus to meet some prefrosh. I don't know whether he followed my advice, but it couldn't have been good for the next year's enrollment.