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Atlanta Magician – Mentalist – Speaker Joe M. Turner | News and Comments from the Chief Impossibility Officer

Salzman Test – solution

Posted by Joe M. Turner | TurnerMagic.com on August 29, 2008

The correct answer is that the middle object doesn’t belong… because, in fact, it belongs.  Each of the other objects has a characteristic — number of i’s, color, shape, or border — that differentiates it from all the others.  The center object has no such unique characteristic.  It is actively similar in most respects to all the other objects.  But as a result of not being actively unique in comparison to all the others, it achieves a passive uniqueness.

Several things struck me as I considered this puzzle.  It reminded me first of the one kid in the classroom who isn’t a non-conformist.  Who, exactly, is really the most “diverse” character in a room where everyone but one is trying (too hard?) to be demonstrably diverse?  “I want to be an non-conformist, just like all my friends…”

From an entrepreneurial standpoint — and an artistic one — I started to think about differentiation between competitors.  We think about how important our USP is, or whether we have a truly different approach to what we do… but the question arises: if we aren’t perfectly unique, can that sometimes actually imply that we do have something unique?

Remember — you are unique and special… just like everybody else!

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One Response to “Salzman Test – solution”

  1. There are actually three explanations for the correct solution to the Salzman Test

    Zen: You are looking at a set of five objects, four of which have a unique and distinctive feature that makes them different, makes them not belong. It is a set of objects that do not belong. One object, the one in the center, has no such distinctive feature, nothing that makes it not belong, so it is a belonging object. But it is a belonging object in a set of objects that do not belong, so it does not belong.

    To the point: The lack of a unique and distinguishing feature is the center object’s distinguishing feature.

    Engineers’: The objects are constructed with four traits, diamond shape, double bordered, single pip, and shaded. Each trait is distributed to four of the objects, leaving one object odd man out, in rotation. The result is that four of the objects each possess three of the traits, and only the center object possesses all four.

    The confounding aspect of the test lies in the “normal” response to the query, “which does not belong”. The normal response is to identify the distinguishing trait of the non-belonging item. In this case, however, it is the lack of such a trait that distinguishes the center object. Breaking the response habit on the query is, for most, quite difficult.

    Dr Ken Salzman

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