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The Barber of Honestants and Swindlecants

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Hi, all. I'm new here. This is my second post and first riddle.

You know the drill with Honestants and Swindlecants. Honestants always tell the truth and Swindlecants always lie, and the only people in town are either Honestants or Swindlecants.

The town has only one barber, whom I ask for a shave. The barber, who lives in town and is quite good-looking, says, "I shave every man in this town who doesn't shave himself, but I don't shave any man in this town who does shave himself."

A woman standing nearby says, "That barber is a Swindlecant; don't be fooled by good looks." Her husband says, "My lovely wife would tell the truth if she were not a liar," and then adds, "The barber is telling the truth." The husband's brother says, "My brother speaks the truth. This barber shaves me." The brother's wife then says, "My poor husband is a liar. The barber doesn't shave him; I do." Finally, the barber says, "If you were to ask the brother's wife, she would tell you that I am a Swindlecant."

The question is: Who shaves the barber?

Answer: No one. The barber is a woman.

The last line is the telling point. The barber must be an Honestant. Clearly, either both men are Honestants and their wives Swindlecants, or both women are Honestants and their husbands Swindlecants. The women claim their husbands are Swindlecants. Therefore, since the first woman says the barber is a Swindlecant, the second woman must agree. Therefore, she would say that the barber was a Swindlecant if asked. But the barber says that she would say so -- so therefore, the barber must be truthful. That means the men are telling the truth, the women (wives) are lying, and the barber is an Honestant.

Thus, the barber must shave every man in town who does not shave himself. Furthermore, the barber does not shave any man in town who does shave himself. If the barber were male, then he would have to shave himself if he did not shave himself, but would not be allowed to shave himself if he did. This is an impossible situation for a male barber. Therefore, the only resolution is that the barber is a woman. And since she's considered good-looking, we can assume she doesn't have (much) facial hair.

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Posted · Report post

We have a very similar riddle in the "Paradoxes" section and the thread on the subject can be found here.

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