A Ship has as Cargo 26 sheep and 10 Goats on Board. How Old is the Ship’s Captain? By Brian Simpson

     I came across this problem on the internet, allegedly from China:

     There was a large discussion of the problem on the internet, with some people applying facts about Chinese boat law, which sets a minimum age for ship’s carrying such cargo. But the problem is not Chinese, but was posed over 40 years ago in France. It was found that students just manipulated numbers to give an answer, usually adding 26 and 10. Studies in other European countries found that only a minority of students thought critically and conclude that there was not enough information to solve the problem. There are certainly limits to the critical thinking abilities of most people, seldom questioning the status quo. I see this in maths classes all the time when I set puzzle and trick questions, that almost everybody gets wrong, not once, but all the time. It is a worry.



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Saturday, 28 November 2020
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