Three Philosophers Under a Tree

Three philosophers are taking a nap under a tree. While they’re asleep, a small boy smears their noses with red berries. When they awake, they each begin to laugh, thinking the other two are laughing at each other.

But then one philosopher stops laughing, realizing his nose is red too. How did he come to this conclusion?

Let’s call the philosopher’s A, B and C. A reasoned that B was confident his nose wasn’t red. If B saw A’s nose wasn’t red, he would be surprised that C was laughing, because C would have nothing to laugh at. But B wasn’t surprised, therefore, A correctly reasoned his nose was smeared.

Posted in Brain Teasers


3 Comments on "Three Philosophers Under a Tree"

Scott says
July 18, 2014 @ 18:27

The first part makes it sound as if the boy smeared red berries on all of their noses.

Dan says
July 22, 2014 @ 16:13

Is that a problem?

Zee says
October 10, 2020 @ 01:44

The woke philosopher touched his own schnozz in self-doubt and found red on his fingertips, thereby deducing that he also had a berried nose. After a pause in laughter the three wise men hilariously made a blood pact to hunt down and torture the child who made their wisdom obsolete. Just kidding, they found the child and laid garlands at his feet for teaching them a lesson of projection.

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