North Pole Riddles

If an animal takes ten steps southwards, ten more steps eastwards, then ten more steps northwards, just to arrive at the same place he started… what’s the animal?

I’m sure everyone has heard that riddle before. The animal is at the north pole, hence the confusing geometry. And what animals are at the north pole?

The textbook answer everyone gives is “Polar Bear.” Is that what you said? Is that what you’ve heard?

I saw this riddle asked online, and about a half-dozen people said just that: “Polar Bear”. They all said it as though it were an instinctive reaction, automated muscle memory… completely thoughtless and effortless.

It dawned on me, though, that these people weren’t as brilliant as they’d like to believe. Some were bragging, in fact, racing one another to provide the best explanation and win over the most approval for their “genius.”

Some people think themselves intelligent for giving the correct answer (or textbook answer) to a riddle, when most likely they had to be told in the first place. Geniuses! Nothing like confusing raw memorization for reasoning skills, is there? Do these people truly think outside the box, or is it just that their box is a bit bigger than those who couldn’t answer at all?

I would have said that the animal was an arctic penguin – but I don’t know, judging by the one-track mindset of a programmed community and the overwhelming degree of consistency, should I assume I’m wrong with my answer? Free-thinker, anyone?



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