With all the strife in the world, there is no reason not to enjoy a bit of a distraction from time to time. One of the most common distractions on the internet are small puzzles, riddles, brain-teasers, or optical illusions that are meant to surprise and delight the audience.
Many of these puzzles claim that only a certain portion of the population can solve them, and they imply that those who can are somehow geniuses based on that single test. Of course, that isn’t accurate at all, but the goal of those statements is to get people to click on the puzzle in the first place to see if they can compare to the best minds in society. Oftentimes, these puzzles are simple enough that only a small majority of the population wouldn’t be able to solve them.
This brain-teaser is no exception, and while it may seem relatively straightforward, it is surprisingly difficult. The objective is simply to find the missing number from a list of numbers between 1 and 49. The numbers are broken up into four lines of about 13 or 14 numbers each on average, and the goal is to find the missing number as quickly as possible, ideally without having to actually count through the numbers one by one. If the missing number isn’t immediately obvious to you, the best way to try to find the missing number is to simply sweep your eyes over each individual line and hope the missing number jumps out at you. If it doesn’t, you can count them from the beginning to find the missing number.
There is a chance you might still miss the number when reading through the list due to the location of the number and its relation to the other numbers around it. The missing number falls away cleanly because it seemingly doesn’t fit with the other numbers in the group, so most people’s eyes glance right over the fact that the number isn’t actually there.
Once you believe you have found the missing number, you can click on the puzzle to flip it over and find the correct answer. Those who found that 32 was the missing number are correct. The reason why it takes so long to find that 32 is missing is because of the mirrored effect of having 31 immediately adjacent to 33. Not only that, but the misalignment of the numbers through their individual digits as a result of splitting 49 numbers into four rows instead of five causes the 32 and 42 to be out of sync, so it is less obvious the 32 is missing.
These sorts of puzzles are a great way to take a break from the seriousness of the world, but they can be a bit frustrating if they are overly difficult or if you can’t solve them. In the case of this puzzle, the ability to quickly find the missing number doesn’t really correlate to higher intelligence. Some people simply see patterns easier that others, but that doesn’t mean they can do anything particularly impressive with that information. This puzzle measures something that is more closely related to a reflex than intelligence.
Perhaps the ability to solve this puzzle quickly could be connected to a increased level of perception, or better training at detecting patterns. In either case, the only way this puzzle could measure intelligence is if the person attempting to solve it merely couldn’t read numbers. In that case, the missing number would be quite impossible to find. It would be like asking someone who can’t read to find the missing letter from an incomplete alphabet.