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Crocodile Sophism


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Remember the question to answer is:

What statement shall the mother make to save her child?

First, let's ask: has the croc already decided what he'll do?

[1] Yes. [this is suggested by "if you don't guess his fate ..."]

The answer in this case is: Nothing the mother says can

affect whether the child is eaten or returned. It's a fallacy

to suggest there are Mother's words that will force the return

of her baby. Its fate is sealed; not open to negotiation.

Not a satisfying result for the puzzle solver or the mother.

Poor baby.

[2] No. [this is suggested by "If you guess [correctly] ... then I will ..."]

In this case, what the croc will do is determined by the

response of the mother. And the task is to construct a

reply which will logically bind the croc to return the child.

The best solution is reply that he will choose, and his choice

will be either to eat or to return. This is a clever approach

because it seems to cover all the bases and force the baby's


But by assuring the baby's return, the mother seals its fate:

The croc merely says, "sorry, but you're wrong. I'll prove

you're wrong by eating the baby, and thus fulfill my word which is ...

[read carefully]:

If you don't guess his fate I'll eat him.

[Only because] she secured his return by her clever answer,

she wrongly guessed its fate.

The croc had dinner that night.

Another unsatisfactory result.

Personally, I like the strategy mentioned above of threatening

the croc with unbelievably heinous consequences if the baby is

not returned.

Always appeal to enlightened self interest.

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i'm not sure u guys think like i do caus i would say you will not eat my child caus if he thinks its a lie he would eat the child which would make the statment true

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The croc says paraphrased If you dont guess his phate then I shall eat him. The croc does not intend to eat the child unless the mother guesses wrong. so she should guess that he would give the child back.


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the crocodile deal is he will not eat the child if the mother guess what he would do to the child..obviously he will eat it..

but does the mother sure if the crocodile will give the baby back? well, the crocodile might say that she`s wrong..so the crocodile can eat the child..

so, all she must do is not to answer the crocodile..and w8 4 a perfect time to took her child from the crocodile..

hehe..was it funny?

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There is no corect answer.

the only possible answer is if she says that he will give it back.

if she says any other sentence with different actions he will be unable to return it to her becouse that

action makes her guess incorect.

Some question do not have correct answers but only possible correct answers.

however is she says that he will it him he will be unable to return it to her becouse of his statement , so he will have to do something else with the chid nor to give it back , and not possible to give it back to her , unles he admits that he lied to her or similiary , possibilities are infinite and none is absolutely correct.

there is a blu object , is it black or red?

see , the only possibility to make this answer correct is to say black

becouse in the dark it is black , becouse the color is a reflection of light in our iris , converted by the brain to make a difference.

but it is not sad that there is dark so it is up to person who made the question to value its corectnes.

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This Situation is difficult for the mother.

If she was to say, you'll eat him, although the mother may be right, the crocodile would eat him making her prediction true, then being unable to return him.

If she was to guess that he would return him, the crocodile would eat the child anyway, making her prediction untrue.

the only solution would be to say.


Whatever I was to say, you would eat my child without returning him.

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A. What was child doing by croc infested river? bad parenting?

B. Croc is hungry and has survived for thousands of years therefore smarter than humans

C. Shoot it so that it does not attack any more disobedient kids, console mother for her loss and get on with life

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The mother would say:

You will return my child because you cannot fulfill your promise when i say: you will eat it

Indeed if you eat it, I am right and you will have to return it but cannot fulfill your promise...

If you don't eat it, then i m wrong, and you will have to eat it.... then I will be right and you will have to return it, but cannot fulfill your promise...

so the croc returned the child and she was right....


my comment:

Whatever the mother says, the croc can do the opposite and eat the child, or do what she says and give it back (we don't know!!)

So to "force" the croc in one way or another (that is not being at its mercy), the mother needs to use "self-referencing" in formal logic; in this case the fact the croc cannot fulfill its promise under certain conditions....

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She could say 'You will submerge the child underwater'...

Hopefully the crocodile will take the child underwater before actually eating the child, this would be correct in the fate of the child and so he would have to give the child back to the mother. But the crocodile never said he would give the child back unharmed...

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Here is the answer

The woman would have to say "you will eat my child". if the crocodile gives back the child her answer would be false. if he ate the child her answer would be true but he could not give back the child because he had already eaten him.

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Under the assumption that the woman can only respond "you will eat" or "you will give back", there are two possibilities:

1. She says "you will give back". This forces the croc to keep his word. At this point the croc can either eat the child or give the child back, and either way there is no paradox - either she guessed correctly and got the child back, or guessed wrong and the child got eaten.

2. She says "you will eat". This forces the croc to be a liar. Either the croc eats the child, in which case she predicted correctly, but he didn't keep his word; OR, the croc returns the child, in which case she predicted wrong, and again, he didn't keep his word.

Personally, if I was the croc, I would rather the woman leave the choice with me, than force me to be a liar, in which case, being a Sophist, I would certainly eat the child, purely out of punity.

Now, if the woman is allowed to respond outside of "you will eat" or "you will give back", then any "always true" response about the childs fate would result in the child being given back (assuming the croc keeps his word). One is the previously stated "you will decide". I also thought of "the child will die" - which is true in *any* case - the child will die at some point in his life, and hence the croc, if keeping his word, would have to return the child.

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Isn't the solution to the question rather simple? The Crocodile states that is she guesses what he is going to do with him, he will return him. If she is incorrect, he will eat the boy. It would seem the logical thing to guess that the Crocodile is going to eat the boy. First, the riddle states that it is a SLIM Crocodile, meaning it probably hasn't eaten in a while. Also, given the Crocodile's statement, if he is going to eat the boy, the woman gets the child back. If the Crocodile has intentions other than eating him, and she guesses that he will eat the boy, the Crocodile would eat the boy. However, being that she guessed he would eat the boy, was wrong, and the boy was to be eaten, she, therefore, answered correctly, thus returning the boy to her safely. It's all in the interpretation of the question. If one is to take the stance that the woman is to guess what the Crocodile is originally going to do with the child, then she has a 1:infinite chance of getting it correct. However, if it is taken that the Crocodile means the final purpose for the boy, the guessing that the Crocodile is going to eat the boy ensures his safe return.

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Guest soyossif

The mother must simply say, "You shall not return my child alive." If she says this, then he must return the child no matter what.

A) If she is right, then the crocodile must return him.

B) If she is wrong, then she is given back her child alive anyway.

Assuming that the crocodile is telling the truth, then he must return the child. Another possibilty would be that if she is right, the crocodile could return the child dead or injured. It does not say that the kid cannot be returned dead or hurt...

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This one is easy. All you have to do is tell the crocodile that the crocodile will take brief and temporary custody of the child. The instant she says this, the prophecy is self-fulfilled and the crocodile will be forced to return the child before the child matures into an adult.

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I think any guess re: the child's fate will be acceptable. The croc said that it will only eat the child if the mother does not guess her child's fate. There's no correct or wrong answer/guess, as long as the mother makes it, she can save her child.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The crocodile told the woman only to "guess," he did not say guess correctly or correctly predict. Therefore, any guess whatsoever, correct or incorrect would mean he would have to return the child.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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 dont, 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

ur statement seems partially true

had the croc's st8ment been like

"If you guess, what I will do with him", I will return him

so the mother could repeat "if you guess, what will I do with him" and the croc wud return the kid

but the quote includes the words " I will return him" so the logic doesnt work

I think the mother could say anything to retrieve the chiild

since all the croc wants is the mother to "GUESS"

he dint say predict the fate or speak the truth or sumthin liek that

so the mother could go on and guess anything random related to the child in order to save him

If you read the original problem, the person who listed it equated "guess" to "predict the fate", so your last paragraph is false

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