Answers for March 1997


Keith McGuinness

Question 1

3,000 detailed predictions made by astrologers were gathered up and monitored; what proportion came true?


10% – survey by Californian skeptics in the 1980s. The predictions really were detailed as to time, place and date, i.e. they were already quite a small proportion of the overall set of predictions available.

Other answers:

  • 50% – the others came up tails
  • 500 plus or minus 200 with 68% confidence [Yup – give the gent a cigar]

Question 2

Meaning of “Mamihlapinatapai”, as spoken on Tierra del Fuego?


(Guinness Book of Records – Most Succinct Word) “Looking at each other, hoping that either will offer to do something that both parties desire, but are unwilling to do”. It often cheers me up to think of the bleak Fuegian landscape in the howling wind, driving rain and knee-deep mud, with two peasants standing in a stony silence during an argument about, say, who will make the sandwiches for the next Whist Drive.

Among the many other answers received:

  • “Mother, a rabbit ate the pie” [Hmmm – someone knows his Medieval French]
  • “Behold… the rabbit nipple mountain”
  • “Mum’s gone and put my laptop under the tap again!”
  • “I heard it on my mother’s lap, so it must be true”
  • “Today is a Good Day to Dry”
  • “It’s cold enough to freeze a yak’s bum, Your Honour.”
  • “Excuse me sir/madam, but you appear to be knee deep in guano; would you care for a moist towelette?”
  • “Run for the hills, the Llamas are coming!”
  • “Geez, did you see the size of those flames?”
  • “My postillion has been struck by lightning”
  • “Kkkkkerchrist it’s ccccccccold”
  • “Mummy, I love peanut pie; please prepare the aforementioned dish for me at once, you Patagonian peasant”
  • “He is one who likes to have sex with farm animals”

Question 3

A bucket of water, full to the brim, stands on bathroom scales which read exactly 40kg. A large block of wood weighing 5kg is dropped in, and it floats freely. What is the final reading on the scales?


If that greek geezer was right, it would displace it’s own mass, so it’s still 40kg. But it was DROPPED in, and water would have splashed out – so make that 39kg.

Other answers

  • The owner of the bathroom would have removed both the bucket and the scientist, making the answer 0kg.
  • Everything becomes wet, so if the scales were electric there would be no reading

Question 3

What does the constellation Sagittarius spectacularly resemble?


A teapot. The ancients reckoned they could see a half man, half horse with a bow and arrow, but you can’t find those mushrooms any more. I am amazed and appalled that nobody got this right. Maybe nobody goes outside at night and looks up any more. Get some astronomical software so you can see, on your screens, what you would have seen if you went outside.

Other answers:

  • A group of stars [OK – you win]
  • A Saucepan [No – that’s Orion]
  • Dollars for astrologers
  • A string of Xmas lights dropped on the floor
  • A huge willy (combined with the testes arc shape of Corona Australis) … or a tea pot, or a spider, or a giraffe, or an ink blot [Hmmmm – this effort seems to cast around in desperation but hey, you got the right answer in there somewhere – ever thought of becoming a psychic?]

    Question 5

    What was Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party membership number?


    555 – he was not the first member – the NSDAP was one of hundreds of minor parties when he got in with them. They started the membership numbers at 501.

    Other and better answers:

    • 007
    • 2 – He was not bright enough to think it up himself
    • 666
    • 999 – nein, nein, nein, or as Bart Simpson would say, “I didn’t do it”
    • 001-IMA-NAZI
    • Who cares – he’s dead