Cult of Puzzles
I don’t like puzzles. I don’t like the smugness of puzzle solvers. I have yet to find a puzzle which tests anything beside knowledge of obscure fact, or extremely generic assumptions which may not hold true.
Before you dismiss me as yet another ‘incapable’ or ‘unintelligent’ person, I should tell you that I have solved many problems all through my whole life while my peers struggled. I have a penchant for finding problems and I find that over time I come up with better solutions than most people around me. If life is a puzzle I am closer than ever to the solution (though a giant hint helped me: there is no true solution 🙂 ) Ya-da.. Ya-da..
But there is a cult of smugness around puzzles. I have no problem with people solving one or seeking one to solve – it is your interest, an intellectual one at that, so there is nothing wrong in doing it. But yet the cult around it is tolerated and probably encouraged in the society.
So I will tell you the reality. It is that solving puzzles shows only one thing – how motivated you in finding a solution for that puzzle. And that little bit of trivia that interested you but nobody else. It doesn’t show your intelligence. It doesn’t show your capability of any kind. Not even problem solving skills. That is why it is so easy to fake a solution – just solving it will show how interested you are in solving it. You have to time yourself correctly though – if you solve it earlier than the questioner then you will rob him or her of all the smugness which a puzzle provides him. Consequently he will proceed to tell you how you already knew the answer.
I have met a lot of people who seek puzzles. Beside a minor percentage who do it for the sheer pleasure, most people seek puzzles as a sign of their superiority in some other unrelated field. A lot of them seek puzzles as an escape.
Well, OK, that last sentence can be said about any hobby, but the rest of the post stands true.