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Crocodile Sophism


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  • 6 months later...

Simple, i would kill the talking crocodile. What........ are we suppose to take a crocodiles word for it that he will answer honestly. 

but lets play along.. this would be my Answer/response


I Predict you will give back my child, (only required A Guess to win) Chess mate.  or

I predict your death if you eat my chronic ill child who suffers a deadly flesh eating virus    


gonna need a lawyer for this crocodile.



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  • 8 months later...

"If you guess correctly, what I will do with him, I will return him. However, if you don't correctly guess his fate I'll eat him."

There are 2 possible answers:

1.  The mother could say "You will open your mouth in front of the child".  To eat the child, the crocodile must open his mouth, thus fulfilling the fate.  Of course this doesn't mean he couldn't kill the child right then and not eat him.

2.  The mother could say "The ultimate fate of my child is that he will eventually die".  This is an absolute truth that the crocodile cannot dispute and must return the child, though again he could drown the child and not eat him.

It would be better if "I will return him unharmed" was added to the parable.

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This is a great question because the clue lies in the wording of the riddle and it is such fun to read through all the suggestions and see how easy it is to misread or misunderstand, in one way or another, the words. 

Firstly, the original scene layout has been edited and we are pointed to understand that the instruction to "guess" is intended to mean "guess correctly". Lots of people have ignored that specific instruction and suggested that the mother only needs to make any guess.

We also have to make the assumption that in this imaginary scenario, the players in the scene are bound by the stated  rules of the game and are not free to lie, cheat, trick or revert to behaviours typical of real mothers or real crocodiles.  ANd also that everything stated, is there for a reason.  We are told that the crocodile is slim - which could mean he will be very hungry and eager to eat the child; or it could mean that he values other things above eating; or it could simply be there to be a red herring.  We have also been told that the crocodile is a solipsist, and so it is fair to assume that, being so, the crocodile will also be bound by the unspoken rules of his own solipsism. What does solipsism actually mean? - its a belief that the only certain thing in the world is one's own mind and that anything outside of our own mind cannot be proved to be real or exist.  This is a clue to tricking the crocodile because he is limited by his solipsism while the mother is not, and this will be her advantage . However, I think many people have somehow misread or misunderstood the crocodile to be a philosophist, not a solipsist.  ....  .

So, let the game commence.   4 things have to take place, in correct sequence:1. the mother makes a guess 2. after hearing the guess,  the crocodile then  does something WITH THE CHILD, as stated (ie not alone,or independently of it)  3. what the crocodile has done with the child now reveals whether her guess was correct or not, and 4. as a result of her correct or incorrect guess, the crocodile then returns or eats the child. So all the guesses that "he will eat the child" or "he will return the child" are wrong because he cannot return the child after he has eaten it, so he will not return it, so the guess is wrong; and equally he cannot return the child a second time after he has already  returned it a first time, so that guess is wrong too. Suggestions like "you will wait to hear my guess" or "you will open your mouth to eat the child" are wrong also because those are not things done WITH THE CHILD. 

So my suggestion is that she will say "You will question whether my child exists" which will fulfill the criteria of being a solipsist, and of doing something WITH the child.  So the fun of the riddle is that we are misdirected into thinking about how to save the child, instead of thinking about the meaning of solipsism. And now we understand why the crocodile is slim, because he never eats anything because he cannot be sure any external thing he catches actually exists. However, there is a riddle within the riddle, because in solving it, we are then reminded of our own solispsism.  Because nobody told the mother that the crocodile was a solipsist.  We assume she knows because we know, demonstrating that we consider all of the riddle to be part of our own mind instead of something external to it.

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  • 5 months later...
On 6/9/2007 at 4:56 AM, rookie1ja said:

Crocodile Sophism - Back to the Paradoxes


A slim crocodile living in Nile took a child. Mother begged to give him back. The crocodile could not only talk, he was also a great sophist, and so he stated: "If you guess (Edited: predict the fate = guess correctly), what I will do with him, I will return him. However, if you don't guess his fate I'll eat him." What statement shall the mother make to save her child (what about a vicious circle ...)?

its simple she says you will eat him which then if shes wrong then he will eat him but that means shes right but if he dosen't eat him then he will eat him and so forth.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 months later...

Mother says he is going to eat her child.

If crocodile eats the child it means she predicted correctly,so crocodile has to give her child back.

If crocodile decided to return the child it means she predicted wrong,so he is going to eat the child which makes her prediction true and it has to return the child.

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  • 1 month later...

She would say “You are going to eat my child”. In order to make the sentence true the crocodile would have to eat the child. But he said if she guessed right then she could have the child back. But if he gave the child back, she would be wrong because he didn’t eat the baby, so he would have to eat the baby. But since he ate the baby, she would be right so he would have to give the baby back. If she used the sentence it is a paradox because no matter what happens it will always contradict the outcome every single time 

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  • 1 year later...
On 6/18/2007 at 12:15 AM, Guest said:

I would think that the only way to make ANY sense of the situation is for the woman to repeat back to the croc EXACTLY what he said to HER: "If I guess right, you'll give my baby back, if I don't, you'll eat him. That's what you'll do to him." He'd have to return the baby, because she's CORRECT NO MATTER WHAT. Eh? hehehe

That's the one! 

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