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Paul Harvey Riddle
Gary C. sent me this riddle which has been doing the rounds on email for quite a while, though I had never seen it before. As Gary pointed out, the interesting thing about this is not whether it really is a Paul Harvey riddle (I have no clue), or even the riddle itself. It's the claim that 80% of kindergarten kids got the answer while 83% of Stanford graduates were unable to. Instead of trying to track down whether or not a group of Stanford graduates ever has been tested with this riddle, I thought I'd do the next best thing. Take an unscientific poll of Museum of Hoaxes readers to see how many of you are able to figure out the answer right away vs. aren't able to. That'll give a rough approximation of the percentage of (presumably over-kindergarten age) people able to solve the riddle, assuming people answer the poll honestly.

I have to admit that I couldn't get the answer. I finally gave up and googled for the answer.

If you've seen the riddle before and already know the answer, then base your response to the poll on the first time you ever saw the riddle. Did you figure out the answer immediately? If you were in kindergarten when you first were given the riddle, then don't respond to the poll.

I put the answer in a link below for those people, like myself, unable to figure it out.

Paul Harvey RIDDLE:
When asked this riddle, 80% of kindergarten kids got the answer, compared to 17% of Stanford University seniors.

What is greater than God, More evil than the devil, The poor have it, The rich need it, And if you eat it, you'll die?

Send this to 10 people and then press shift and you will get the answer.
P.S. You won't believe this, but this really does give you the answer!!!!


The Answer
Psychology
Posted by The Curator on Sat Feb 12, 2005 Comments (214)
Aren't most grads pretty washed out once they've finished uni and aren't young kids just learning basic morals? It's a bit of an unusual stat to claim however completely possible if the sample numbers in each catagory are not relative.
For me the answer was obvious, however I dont think that was the point!!
Posted by kingjiblo  in  Beijing  on  Tue Feb 15, 2005  at  11:39 PM
OK, I've got to come out and say that this "I couldn't get it because I'm not religious" excuse is a big cop-out. I don't believe in Odin, but I can answer quite a few questions about him. I also know quite a bit about Oliver Twist and Huckleberry Finn, although I'm pretty sure they didn't exist in real life.
The "this isn't literally true" complaints don't cut it either. It's a riddle, not a PhD dissertation! Get over it!
Posted by Big Gary  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  12:36 AM
Big Gary C said:

"OK, I've got to come out and say that this "I couldn't get it because I'm not religious" excuse is a big cop-out. I don't believe in Odin, but I can answer quite a few questions about him."

I can't speak for anyone else, but I didn't mean to imply that an agnostic or atheist COULDN'T get this riddle, but that it seemed to me to have an attitude of "Well, EVERYONE believes in God, so you should get this with no problem" behind it.

Having had 12 years of Catholic school, I too know a wee bit about the Big G, but I don't automatically "go there" (as the kids say) when confronted with something like this.
Posted by crankymediaguy  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  03:13 AM
No wonder you're cranky, 12 years of parochial school did it to you.
Posted by JoeSixpack  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  09:18 AM
Something I just remembered about this after working it around in my mind. I knew I had heard this before but I didn't remember the answer, and I didn't get it here, and it finally came to me. This riddle startedin the 50's sometime. Instead of working on it with today's cultural references, try it from the culture of the 50's it might be easier to understand and get.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  02:03 PM
Cultural references?
Let's see, we have God, the Devil, the poor, the rich, eating, and death.
Which of those references seem dated to you, Christopher?
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  06:34 PM
Ok, so granted, I wasn't alive in the 50's, but it seems to me that what Christopher is saying is that things like God and the Devil were much more prominent in every day life in the 50s than they are now. Also, the societal differences between the rich and the poor were more pronounced in the 50's and more of a cultural issue then they are now. I can't really see a difference between the eating and death though.

Maybe I'm way off, but I think that's what Chris is getting at.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  06:37 PM
I meant from the reference point of the 50's. OK, so I ain't perfect and I do go so fast that I don't write exactly what I mean sometimes. I normally work something over for three weeks or so before I think it's done in my normal writing. I should have looked the comment over and thought about it before submitting it. Proof-reading isn't exactly the most fun part of writing, necessary though it is.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Wed Feb 16, 2005  at  10:04 PM
I figured this one out pretty quick from the second part. being a non-religious person, the first part of the riddle can be confusing until you think a little differently.
Posted by WebSlave  in  Tennessee  on  Thu Feb 17, 2005  at  03:15 AM
bloody hell, talk about some people getting a tad touchy about the whole thing. It's supposed to be a bit of fun, something to exercise your brain. It's not supposed to start world war three! Debating is all well and good but there's no reason to get personal and start insulting each other. That's just acting like a kindergartener!
Posted by Nettie  in  Perth, Western Australia  on  Thu Feb 17, 2005  at  07:22 PM
I think this is a useful riddle in reminding people of the unreality of nothing--people too often confuse nothing with something, as though it were a real thing or force--nothing is not real! everything is! by definition! Although I do believe in God, or an infinite creative force, it is a different awareness than than the image put forth by modern religion. Since God existed before anything else, he/she/it could only have made everything else out of itself... there was nothing else around, and to suggest God created everything out of nothing would be to say that God has power over nothing, and that would mean God had no power at all. Read it over. So, since God can't stop being God (this truth is inherent in the definition of God) then everything around us, inclusing us, is God. Everywhere. This makes the possibility of satan and hell impossible. God would not make himself into a place of eternal torment. Nor would God force the truth of this on a piece of himself/herself/itself--it is anathema to the truth--truth can only be offered, once it is forced it ceases to be the truth, and there is no rush--God will be God forever. So people are allowed to believe in hell, or do anything for that matter--another thing about being God is being at choice. The power is yours. It always has been and always will be. God isn't some guy in the sky, but you are free to believe that--God is all there is, and inherent in that isness is the infinite potential of all that could be. Find this in yourself--trust me, it is there.
Posted by Chris  on  Sat Mar 05, 2005  at  02:53 PM
Very Descartian...
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Sun Mar 06, 2005  at  02:42 AM
i still don't know the answer i'm sorry but i was never good at riddles can someone please tell me the answer
Posted by kelli  on  Mon Apr 04, 2005  at  11:15 PM
Kelli, press the shift key and see what happens. That's your answer! smile
Posted by Smerk  in  to mischief  on  Mon Apr 04, 2005  at  11:28 PM
never mind i figured it out as soon as i submitted my ? thanks and duh
Posted by kelli  in  millmont pennsylvania  on  Mon Apr 04, 2005  at  11:38 PM
Well the first time I got this was about a year ago, I was 13. I always got it in an e-mail from my friends. Well I tried it and just got frustrated. I kept pushing shift over and over again, and nothing happened! I was so angry. I thought something was wrong with my computer lol! I thought in my head as I read it over and over again, NOTHING, but I never thought that 'nothing' was the actual answer. One of my friends e-mailed me back, and said a dollar? And the funny thing is that he is one of the smartest ppl I know (he was 14 @ the time). Once I saw the answer I just felt dumb. every answer I could think of didn't work because say I thought is was love, you can't eat love, and sure anough you wouldn't DIE! and how would love be even more evil than the devil? The devil is a D infront of evil (which I just noticed) so what could be even more evil? Then I thought hate, but once again, you can't EAT hate...One other reason I couldn't believe anything was greater than God, or more evil than the Devil, is that I'm a Trinitarian...although I might not be a strong christian, I still believe in god as my savour, and yes I believe in the Devil just as much as God. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect, I don't try to be, don't think I am, and I know I never will be; but yes, *I* believe everything in the whole bible, and in Jehovah (Yahweh), Jesus, and the holy spirit, and that each is equal to another, and if one were not there, everything would fall apart as *I* know it.
Posted by Heather  in  Blaine, MN  on  Sat Apr 23, 2005  at  07:49 PM
Criss, Althought I do agree with most of what you say, there is one thing I would like to point out to you, as you say that everyone has a choice of what they do, and all, and that there might not be a satan or hell because god is everything and he wouldn't be something evil, or something like that, that god created satan....Well not exactly satan. He created angels, Satan was an angel that *chose* to backstab god, and try to be greater than him. So he had the choice as you say we do, to change his future. True god is everything, because he made everything, like when you have a child, you are part of them (more along the line of they are part of you), and you are with them because of that (sorta). Well my point is, that god created an angel that *chose* to go bad, and with the newly created "bad angel" was his new identity: Satan, who took with him all of the bad angels who *chose* to not follow god, but an other angel who they thought was greater, and that even though god may have created them, and is parshally with them, that it was *their* choice, not his...so in a way since he was still a part of them, he in tern, create hell....I might have some flaws in what I'm saying...but I am still in middle school, and @ the age of 14, but Criss, I'd love to share our beliefs sometime or another! Thanx for giving ur comment, and I indeed learned from it.
Posted by Heather  in  Blaine, MN  on  Sat Apr 23, 2005  at  08:09 PM
Heather, I only have this to say...

In relation to religion, GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN.

I know you're gonna think I'm picking on you or your religion, or trying to "convert you to being an atheist", but no, I'm not. My basic mission when I talk about religion is to try and make people actually think about what they are blindly believing in.

I'm not going to go into it here, (I can hear the sighs of relief from the regulars smile ) and it's pretty hard to make people see reason through the internet, anyway.

But one glaring thing that stuck out from your posts was that you believe in equality because the Bible teaches it. Where? From what I understood when I read it, God has his chosen people, and everyone else is below them. Not to mention the many references to slavery (never a bad one) and to male over female domination. If you don't see what I mean, read the book again, and tell me exactly where it teaches equality.
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Sat Apr 23, 2005  at  09:44 PM
Rod said:

"Heather, I only have this to say...

In relation to religion, GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN."

Gotta agree with you there, Rod. Heather, you're young, you still have time to realize what a scam organized religion is.

Just for starters, why are you expected to pay someone (priest, rabbi, guru, etc.) to talk to God for you? Can't you do that without the middle man (not that I believe in God)?

Why don't you try this little experiment: visit one of the atheist web sites that quote some of the more, shall we say, "unusual" passages from the Bible and question their meaning and logic and see if you can come up with good, logical answers to the questions they pose about them.

If you find you can't, the next question you should be asking yourself if why you want to believe in something that simply makes no sense.
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Sun Apr 24, 2005  at  04:19 AM
Honey, I know I'm young, anyone can see that...(although I do often get mistaken for an other age). I not only pay for someone to explain the bible to me (lol like I have enough money to do that, they only get a tenth of my allowence! ...Only I haven't been going to church for awhile, so I hardly ever give money), but I also give to misionaries and the expensises for the church.... But like I've said in my first post, I'm not a very strong christian, although I believe it all. Infact I'm one of Eminem's biggest fans. I understand what he's talking about, and I relate to him because he's been threw a lot in his life. He also seems to have this love/hate thing going on for women... I have that for men. I need them, and yet I push them away. I love them, but when I think they're going to hurt me, boom, I hurt them and hate them. But I'm getting better @ this. One day @ a time...just like how my dad gets through not having alcohol, one day at a time. Anyways, back to your comment; you say that I should look @ a website and find some answers to some of the things that the bible is saying... I do that at church events, like cell group, and Wednesdays. Our I ask some of my cell group leaders, one of them Danny, is like a big brother to me....infact in some ways he was more of a brother to me than my own brother. But that's an other story, and I'd rather you find that out from my novels...when I write them, and get them published. You might find some explainations to why I believe what I believe and why I have an ambivalent sort of realationship with men.
Posted by Heather  in  Blaine, MN  on  Sun Apr 24, 2005  at  02:08 PM
" I not only pay for someone to explain the bible to me..." - Heather

Let me get this straight. You pay somone else to tell you what you should believe?
Anyone interpreting any book for another person invariably puts their own self-serving interpretation to it.

Read the book yourself, Heather. Form your OWN opinions.
Then, as CMG suggested, read other people's opinions. Reject or accept these as you will, but please, please, PLEASE apply logic to your thinking on this subject.

And you're asking us to refer to books that you haven't read yet as your explanation of why you do all you do?

"I do that at church events, like cell group, and Wednesdays."

Did I miss something? Wednesdays are a 'church event' now? smile
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Sun Apr 24, 2005  at  05:26 PM
First of all I'd like to say that I am a Christian and God is there! That riddle which was put in our 7th grade history class took us awhile to figure it out. I do agree that the first part, "What is greater than God" would give it away; because we all know that NOTHING is greater than HIM! But the other lines do give it difficulty to figure it out such as, "The rich need it, and if you eat it, you'll die?"

1. The rich do need things not movies, cars or their over little toys but they need food and shelter.

2. The statement "if you eat it you'll die..." misleads you to thinking that it's some poisonous food.

--:gulp:I was offended by the rude people who do not believe in God! He is there and you should start to live with him and his glory too!
Posted by believer  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  08:09 PM
God Rules!
Posted by GOD ROCKS!  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  08:12 PM
I'm amazed on how people are so ignorant to think that there ISNT a God!

First of all, there is.
He's there if you believe or even if you dont.
He loves you.
He'll forgive you.
You need to know that.
I'm sad to say but it will come back to you.

And miss smarty pants, I dont call it "PAYING" somone to teach a book to me. ITS NOT A BOOK its the Bible, which teaches us the amazing things God has done for us. AND we dont go to church to have someone give us there opinions, WE go to celebrate his glory and that fact that we wake up!

WWJD!?!?
Posted by Dazed on how ignorant people can be!  on  Tue Apr 26, 2005  at  08:17 PM
Dazed said:

"I'm amazed on how people are so ignorant to think that there ISNT a God!"

Yes, some of us actually have the temerity to ask questions about the world around us and aren't content to accept superstition as being the answer.

"First of all, there is."

Oh. Well, that settles THAT, I guess. How silly of me to doubt something as obvious as THAT.

"He's there if you believe or even if you dont.
He loves you.
He'll forgive you.
You need to know that.
I'm sad to say but it will come back to you."

Oh, let me see here. God is love but if I have the nerve to questions His existance, He'll punish me, even though He gave me the ability to use my mind. Well, who could question the logic of THAT?

"And miss smarty pants, I dont call it "PAYING" somone to teach a book to me. ITS NOT A BOOK its the Bible, which teaches us the amazing things God has done for us."

I'll put aside the fact that I'm a MAN, not a woman, and just deal with what you're saying.

Uh, the Bible ISN'T a book? What is it then?

"AND we dont go to church to have someone give us there opinions, WE go to celebrate his glory and that fact that we wake up!"

Um, isn't saying that there is a God an OPINION? (Hint: Yes) Doesn't your priest, minister, rabbi or whatever speak on various issues in the course of your worship service? I believe it's called a homily. That would constitute OPINION.

Yes, you DO go to church, synagogue, mosque, whatever to worship God. You also listen to your local religious leader give his OPINION on various things and you donate money in the course of the service. Therefore you ARE paying to hear someone's opinions.

Hey, here's an experiment if you doubt me. Next time you go to church/synagogue/mosque, tell the preacher/priest/whatever that you'd like equal time to speak to the congregation since you contribute money. Let us know what response you get.





WWJD!?!?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  08:10 PM
Since when did I become a smarty pants? I thought I was sticking up for god, not trying to make fun of people who love him. I'm sorry if I offended you or something like that. Not intentional I swear! (I don't go to church to listen to just one persons opinion) I go to church to listen about what is taught in the bible since I don't read it much myslef...although I'm getting back into more things like that now. I've walked away, but I'm comming back on the path. Oh, and I don't think that Dazed necessarily ment that if you don't follow god he will punish you, more along the lines of, you punished your self. Dazed, I'm not trying to put words in your mouth, or anything like that. I just didn't think you ment it that way. I'm trying to stick up for you here. Oh and Cranky Guy, at my church, people do get to speak when they want to @ like JC's Place, and sometimes the Entry, or at cell groups.
Posted by Heather  on  Thu Apr 28, 2005  at  06:03 PM
Heather said:

"I don't think that Dazed necessarily ment that if you don't follow god he will punish you, more along the lines of, you punished your self."

I may have confused your postings with Dazed's. I'm not sure but if I did, sorry.

As for me "punishing myself," what exactly would THAT mean? My life seems to me to be more than I even have a right to expect it to be. Overall, things seem pretty good on the Me Front. How am I being punished or suffering because I don't give money to people in funny costumes to interpret God's Will for me?

"Oh and Cranky Guy, at my church, people do get to speak when they want to @ like JC's Place, and sometimes the Entry, or at cell groups."

I don't know what those things are; I'm assuming that they're some sort of church-related groups.

Tell you what. Try this: Next time you're at one of those church-sponsored soirees, get up and say that you've decided that there is no God. See how reasonably they respond to that.

Talking only to church people about God is inevitably going to give you only one side of the story no matter how many of them you talk to.

What I was suggesting was that you make an attempt to get the other side of the story so that you can use your brain to decide what you really believe. Remember, ANY church/mosque/synogogue/etc. has a financial incentive to keep you in the flock. Even if that isn't their only motivation, do you really expect them to give you both sides of the God story? Would you expect the Young Republicans to tell you all the good things about the Democratic Party?
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Apr 29, 2005  at  05:05 AM
wow i figured it out as i clicked the link...i knew that if i clicked it u wud have to wait a few seconds cause my internet is slow nd i wud have to think fast nd then it came to me about five seconde b4 it showed up
Posted by rob  in  nj  on  Mon May 16, 2005  at  11:46 PM
Heather, I appreciate your reply, please allow me to clarify what I said. You say that God creted angels, the devil, etc.... Whatever God created, he created out of himself. Those creations are still God. God cannot stop being God. It is impossible. He/she/it is pure potential, and can manifest into any form. But those forms are still 100% God. You are one with God, just as Jesus said "I and the father are one," and related it with the rest of us "you are all my brothers and sisters"
What else would god have made us out of? Nothing? You'll recall from the riddle that there is no such thing as nothing. Therefore, he made it out of something, and the only something that was around was Himself! The devil is a myth created by humans thousands of years ago as way of explaining what they percieved as evil, and also as a way of scaring people into being good. God = Love. God is all there is. Love is all there is. But love will not force even this knowledge upon you, as the moment truth is forced on someone it ceases to be the truth--it can only be offered, and you may choose to receive it when the time is right for you. God loves you unconditionally. Love without condition. He would not allow a piece of himself to be in a place like hell for eternity. That goes against the very basics of love.
Posted by Chris  in  St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada  on  Tue May 17, 2005  at  05:04 PM
the answer is nothing
Posted by Jeff  on  Wed Jun 01, 2005  at  11:30 AM
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