Marilyn vos Savant, once the Guinness Book of World Records title holder for the highest IQ score (228!) parlayed that fame into a Parade Magazine column, called Ask Marilyn, that she's been writing since 1986.
Readers send in complex problems for vos Savant to ponder and solve, with the most interesting or difficult puzzles published daily online and weekly in print.
In the last 28 years, the smartest person in the world has answered thousands of tricky questions (many designed to trip her up) using her unparallelled intellect to arrive at consistently the correct answer.
But, she doesn't always get it right.
On at least two occasions, MVS published solutions to puzzles posed by readers, who immediately responded (somewhat rudely perhaps) to show where her mathematical skills went wrong.
In both cases, Marilyn vos Savant published a correction, without admitting she was completely wrong, only that a different solution could be arrived at by using some questionably accepted theoretical mathematics.
Fermat's Theorem is one thing, but blowing a Brangelina question is another.
On June 22, one reader wrote:
"Say that Brad and Angelina work together on a project and take 6 hours to complete it. Each then does an identical project alone. Brad takes 4 hours longer to finish than Angelina. How many hours did it take each to do the individual projects?"
Marilyn vos Savant answered:
"If Brad and Angelina, working together, complete a project in 6 hours, they work a total of 12 man-hours. So they can do two projects with a total of 24. They then work separately. Brad finishes 4 hours later than Angelina, so they must have worked a total of 20 man-hours (24 – 4 hours) at the same time. This means Angelina did her project in 10 hours (20 hours ÷ 2), and Brad took 14 hours (10 + 4 hours) to do his."
Suffice to say it's beyond the average reader's grasp, citing nearly incomprehensible (to the layman) evidence, like this beauty:
"It takes Angelina about 10.3245553203 hours (12/(-2 + sqrt(10)) to be exact) to finish a project."
We'll take your word for it Kevin Glaser in Rochester, Minn. And, apparently, so will Marilyn vos Savant.
In the June 29 Ask Marilyn column, the smartest person in the world conceded her error and graciously posted this reply:
"Agreed. I'll be publishing a correction (and explanation of why your answer is correct) in the magazine on July 13."
What makes this correction so different? It seems this is the first time Marilyn vos Savant is admitting she was totally wrong. Yep, she blew it.
What's so charming about this acknowledgement is that even the smartest person in the world knows when it's time to admit they're mistaken. Such professionally embarrassing honesty is rare for a celebrity, much less one who truly prizes her unique intellect.
It'll take a few weeks for the corrected answer to be proved and published, and it will be interesting to see how MVS arrived at such an embarrassing conclusion.
But, either way, Marilyn vos Savant did get one thing right:
Brad Pitt may be a hunk, but Angelina Jolie wears the smarty pants in that family...
What do you think?
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