In the stream of Facebook comments that spawned this post, this was the statement that really set me off: "Writing an op ed to explain why the riddle is "wrong" seems rather over-defensive." Well, I am willing to admit I am pedantic so I'll say that I had actually commented that the riddle was poorly written and that my choice of those words was for a reason. But regardless, following this statement with a smiley face doesn't make it less of a smug tweak. I was answering someone else's direct question about whether I thought that my answer was correct and that the answer that the guy who thought this whole thing up wants was incorrect and why. In the spirit of not ruining the "fun" for others, I said that my answer was incorrect as well and offered to send my reasoning about both being incorrect in a private message. Since that person didn't take me up on the offer and then that subsequent comment has set me off, you all get to hear it instead.
First, the exact text of the riddle to which I responded, copied and pasted from the page:
I have had to change my profile to a giraffe. I tried to answer a riddle and got it wrong . Try the great giraffe challenge!The deal is I give you a riddle. You get it right you get to keep your profile pic. You get it wrong and you change your profile pic to a Giraffe for the next 3 days. MESSAGE ME ONLY SO YOU DONT GIVE OUT THE ANSWER.Here is the riddle: 3:00 am, the doorbell rings and you wake up. Unexpected visitors, It's your parents and they are there for breakfast. You have strawberry jam, honey, wine, bread and cheese. What is the first thing you open?Remember... message me only. If you get it right I'll post your name here. If you get it wrong change your profile picture to a giraffe for 3 days.
Let's take a look at this. As written, you've awakened to an unexpected doorbell to find that your parents are here and want breakfast. Now there's a list of things you have in the house to eat or drink. Then comes the question. "What is the first thing you open?" Keep in mind that "is" in the question because it's very important, even more important to correctly answering the riddle than the definition of it was to former President Clinton. The guy who created the riddle wants the answer of "your eyes" but since he's already got you awake, that can't be it. I answered "the door" as did many others. But again, as you see the unexpected visitors are your parents and you know they want breakfast, that implies the door has already been opened unless you're crazy and peek out the window and conduct a conversation with them through a closed door. Since most of us are not completely ludicrous, that is unlikely. And so you are left with the list of consumables, none of which makes more sense than any other. But the present tense question (there's that "is") comes after your eyes and the door have already been opened and so the answer must, by logic, be in that list. And we all know it's not. I give you a very poorly written riddle. And as someone who cares about precise language and decent writing, I pointed it out. But I'm over-defensive and must be informed of such. (For what it's worth, over-defensive is the wrong accusation anyway as I admitted I said you open the door first and then backed down from that answer to say it was incorrect as well so I'm clearly not defending my initial answer.) Apparently, I am the party guest who came in and pushed over the cake because remember this is just for fun and 99% of us don't care about the writing as discovered in the 2013 study written by I. Couldntcareless examining people's high tolerance for accepting incorrect information.