The Vlad Enigma

Makalakumu

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The Vlad Enigma

Background Information

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlad_III_the_Impaler

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, more commonly known as Vlad the Impaler (Vlad Ţepeş in Romanian), also known as Vlad Dracula, or simply Dracula (1431 December 1476), was a Wallachian (present-day southern Romania) voivode. His three reigns were in 1448, 14561462, and 1476. Vlad the Impaler is known for the exceedingly cruel punishments he imposed during his reign.[1] Impalement was Ţepeş's preferred method of torture and execution.[2]

Story

There are many historical accounts of Vlad Tepes. In two of them, the same story is told, but the outcome of the story is different. The story regards the travels of two monks. They are both lost in a storm at night and they happen upon Vlads fortress and beg him for shelter for the night. Vlad, fancying himself as a good Christian man, welcomes the monks into this castle and proceeds to invite the monks to a feast. As the story goes, Vlad asks both monks a question.

What do you think of my rule?

The monks, who are both knowledgeable about Vlad, the politics of the region, and Vlads harsh policies, give two distinct answers. One monk tells Vlad the truth and says that his rule is harsh, unchristian, inhumane. The other monk tells Vlad that his rule, although harsh, is just considering the times, and is the only real choice a good Christian can make.

Vlad has one of the monks impaled on the spot. Depending on the historical account, Vlad either impales the flatterer or the monk who tells Vlad the truth. Which monk did Vlad impale? Why?

The Enigma

If you were one of the monks in this situation, what would you do? Would you tell Vlad the truth or would you tell him what he wanted to hear?

Some interesting conclusions can be drawn depending on the answer you give.

For example, people who decide to tell Vlad the Truth may have a great deal of courage in the face of death and are na簿ve enough to believe that even someone like Vlad the Impaler might suddenly see the error of his ways. These people tend to be very trusting and make good public servants and/or bureaucrats.

One the other hand, people who decide to flatter Vlad, tend to have a more pragmatic view of society and are good survivalists. They also tend toward cynicism, paranoia, and a general distrust of authority. These people often tend to make a living on their own and prefer to take care of their kith and kin above all.

Of course this is a gross simplification, but then again, the point of this enigma is to provoke discussion.
 

thardey

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I would impale the one who lied to me.

But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of Vlad: is he the sort of man who would put more value on the truth, or his reputation?

Now, only a great fool would assume that his enemy (or host) would make the same decision I would make, and since I am not a great fool, I would clearly choose to lie to Vlad. However, Vlad must have known I was not a great fool, so clearly I must choose to tell the truth.

As you know, Vlad's victims were entirely made up of criminals, and criminals are used to being lied to, and therefore I must clearly also lie.

Yet, Vlad must have suspected that I knew the origins of the Enigma, and therefore would expect me to lie to him, so therefore I must tell the truth.

Vlad had tortured and killed his own subjects, which means he's exceptionally cruel, so he could have forced the question, trusting in his cruelty to force an honest answer out of me, so clearly I cannot choose to tell the truth. Yet he also considered himself a protector, which means he must uphold morality, and morality must have taught him that lying is immoral, and so therefore I cannot choose to lie.

:yakko:
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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My answer would be "Who am I to judge a man who has taken me out of the storm and given me shelter and food"? "

I would go on and say"your judgement is with God and not with me so let us not make haste and enjoy the feast"
 

exile

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But you can't really turn this into some version of the Liar paradox or the Barber paradox... because we're not given the same information about Vlad that we are in those classic paradoxes.

Vlad's Enigma really isn't a paradox in the same way (thardey's clever reconstructing of it notwithstanding)because we're not given enough information about Vlad, particularly the all-imporant elements of that kind of paradox: 'Vlad always....' The fact is, Vlad can do completely different, seemingly contradictory things on different days. On on any give day, he may reward honesty or he may reward flattery. In that sense, there's no actual resolution to this question, because depending on which day of his life it was, either of the two 'guests' could have wound up being impaled.

Basically, you'd have to guess just what his intentions were on the day. It's not really the stuff of a great classic logic puzzle, alas...
 
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Makalakumu

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It's not really intended to be a classic logic puzzle, I think of it more as a metaphor for the human condition. Basically, what you described, Exile, is what humans do every day. We need to predict human behavior. We certainly hope that we aren't sitting in front of homocidal maniacs when we are doing it though!

Anyway, its great for discussion because its provacative metaphor.
 

Aikicomp

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I would impale the one who lied to me.

But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of Vlad: is he the sort of man who would put more value on the truth, or his reputation?

Now, only a great fool would assume that his enemy (or host) would make the same decision I would make, and since I am not a great fool, I would clearly choose to lie to Vlad. However, Vlad must have known I was not a great fool, so clearly I must choose to tell the truth.

As you know, Vlad's victims were entirely made up of criminals, and criminals are used to being lied to, and therefore I must clearly also lie.

Yet, Vlad must have suspected that I knew the origins of the Enigma, and therefore would expect me to lie to him, so therefore I must tell the truth.

Vlad had tortured and killed his own subjects, which means he's exceptionally cruel, so he could have forced the question, trusting in his cruelty to force an honest answer out of me, so clearly I cannot choose to tell the truth. Yet he also considered himself a protector, which means he must uphold morality, and morality must have taught him that lying is immoral, and so therefore I cannot choose to lie.

:yakko:

Hey! Vlad, is that Jesus behind you?....gulp..gulp....... HA! ha! ha! ha! ....ackk :nuke:


As to the question..........

I would tell him half-truths and hope I'd wind up....mostly dead.




Michael
 

thardey

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But you can't really turn this into some version of the Liar paradox or the Barber paradox... because we're not given the same information about Vlad that we are in those classic paradoxes.

Basically, you'd have to guess just what his intentions were on the day. It's not really the stuff of a great classic logic puzzle, alas...

It's not really intended to be a classic logic puzzle, I think of it more as a metaphor for the human condition. Basically, what you described, Exile, is what humans do every day. We need to predict human behavior. We certainly hope that we aren't sitting in front of homocidal maniacs when we are doing it though!

Anyway, its great for discussion because its provacative metaphor.

I thought of it more as the "Lady or the Tiger" kind of question. The answer tells more about you than your logic.
 
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Makalakumu

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When I've got some spare time in class, I'll throw out the Vlad Enigma to my students and we'll discuss. Kids are mostly grossed out by Vlad's atrocities, as they well should be, and want to talk about why in the heck someone would even think about doing that to another person.

Anyway, I can see this being the only question on a job application for some crazy bureaucracies. If you answer that Vlad impaled the flatterer its likely you've got at least some faith in systems and people, even if its misplaced enough to trust a homicidal maniac...LOL!
 

LordOfWu

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I would impale the one who lied to me.

But it's so simple. All I have to do is divine from what I know of Vlad: is he the sort of man who would put more value on the truth, or his reputation?

Now, only a great fool would assume that his enemy (or host) would make the same decision I would make, and since I am not a great fool, I would clearly choose to lie to Vlad. However, Vlad must have known I was not a great fool, so clearly I must choose to tell the truth.

As you know, Vlad's victims were entirely made up of criminals, and criminals are used to being lied to, and therefore I must clearly also lie.

Yet, Vlad must have suspected that I knew the origins of the Enigma, and therefore would expect me to lie to him, so therefore I must tell the truth.

Vlad had tortured and killed his own subjects, which means he's exceptionally cruel, so he could have forced the question, trusting in his cruelty to force an honest answer out of me, so clearly I cannot choose to tell the truth. Yet he also considered himself a protector, which means he must uphold morality, and morality must have taught him that lying is immoral, and so therefore I cannot choose to lie.

:yakko:

Man, that just made my morning! One of my favorite scene's from one of my favorite movies! Well Done!
 

Xue Sheng

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Wait... can you ask this question again except this time instead of monks its Superman and the Silver Surfer :D

Other than that I am with CoryKS but then thardey puts forth a rather strong case as well but I can't quite figure out if vlad beat a Spaniard and a giant before the monks got there :D
 

CoryKS

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Wait... can you ask this question again except this time instead of monks its Superman and the Silver Surfer :D

Other than that I am with CoryKS but then thardey puts forth a rather strong case as well but I can't quite figure out if vlad beat a Spaniard and a giant before the monks got there :D

A Wallachian beating a Spaniard and a giant? That would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable.
 

JBrainard

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If you were one of the monks in this situation, what would you do? Would you tell Vlad the truth or would you tell him what he wanted to hear?

Some interesting conclusions can be drawn depending on the answer you give.

For example, people who decide to tell Vlad the Truth may have a great deal of courage in the face of death and are na簿ve enough to believe that even someone like Vlad the Impaler might suddenly see the error of his ways. These people tend to be very trusting and make good public servants and/or bureaucrats.

One the other hand, people who decide to flatter Vlad, tend to have a more pragmatic view of society and are good survivalists. They also tend toward cynicism, paranoia, and a general distrust of authority. These people often tend to make a living on their own and prefer to take care of their kith and kin above all.

Since either way you could be killed, I would tell him the truth. My thinking is that in doing so, I had at least held to my convictions before I died.
The odd thing is that I fit the "profile" of the flatterer (bolded above).
Interesting post -vampfeed-
 

jim777

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Late to the thread, but given it was at a dinner, I would have heard the question, pretended to think deeply about it, and then quickly stabbed Vlad in the throat with my butter knife. :)
 

Xue Sheng

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Late to the thread, but given it was at a dinner, I would have heard the question, pretended to think deeply about it, and then quickly stabbed Vlad in the throat with my butter knife. :)

NAH!!!!

That wouldn't work....don't forget Vlad's a Vampire too and you would need a wooden stake :D
 

bluekey88

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A Wallachian beating a Spaniard and a giant? That would be absolutely, totally, and in all other ways inconceivable.
You keep using that word...I do not think it means what you think it means.

:D

I'd probably pretend to choke on some food and excuse myself from the feast. Better safe than sorry. I'm neither valiant nor a flatterrer...I can live with coward...lviing is good :D
 
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