Magriel Genius Quiz

by Jake Jacobs
14 April 2018

Jake Jacobs

The late Paul Magriel was one in a million. I don't mean that as a hyperbolic compliment, I mean it literally. He was a genius, and the two statements are related. Genius is an overused term. Mensa members are called geniuses, but all it takes for membership is an IQ score that falls two or more standard deviations from the mean. That's around one person in fifty, the kids in your high school graduating class taking all Advanced Placement courses. Bill Clinton was allegedly around three standard deviations from the mean, which would put him in the 99.9+ percentile. Rumor has Bill Gates at around +3.75, or in the 99.99+ percentile. I had my own guess at where X would have fallen was confirmed by someone in whom he had confided his score from the one IQ test he took. If he hadn't arrived at 99.9999%, at least the tower had cleared him for final approach, his gear was down, and the runway lights were lit. There was nearly an IQ Test bet that didn't quite come off, which would have pitted Paul against ... I won't name him, but Paul would have squashed him like the wheels of the plane would have flattened a ladybug on the runway.

After his death I was forwarded a copy of a "genius quiz" that the friend of a friend had gotten from Paul recently. It came without answers but I trust mine. I have taken the liberty of editing some of the questions for clarity, or for interest. It is a tough quiz, but you'd expect no less from a quiz whose questions Paul found interesting. I think answering even one correctly makes you above average. Guessing correctly gets you half credit, but for full credit you will need to justify your answer.

Question 1

Two prisoners are told they will be separated and each asked to flip a coin. Before they are separated they formulate a strategy to guess what the other one flipped. What is their best strategy and what is the chance both guess correctly?

The above paragraph is as it came to me. Let's make the consequence for a wrong guess truly horrible, e.g. being flayed alive, or being forced to watch a baseball game without a handy beer vendor. The aim is to have both guess correctly; a wrong guess by either will result in the dire consequence. There is no way to guarantee 100% correct guessing, but clearly you wish to obtain the best odds possible.
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