top of page

The last ten

'In ten minutes from now, you’ll be dead. But you won’t know which minute within those ten that you will die.'

Bill thought for a moment and said:

‘That’s okay, then, I don’t think that can be true.’

Jim said, ’How do you reckon that, then?’

‘Well, I won’t die in the last minute, because that would mean I would know I was going to die - since there is only one minute left. And you said I would not know which minute it was. So it can’t be the last one. But then if can’t be the last one, it can’t also be the second to last one. Because if I’m alive with two minutes to go, then I’d know I was going to die in that second to last minute - since I’ve just proved it can’t be the last minute. Are you following, Jim?’

Jim wished that Bill was not quite such a pedantically precise sort of chap, but nodded and said, ‘I think I can see where this is going.’

Bill went on, ‘Similarly, it can’t the be third to last minute, for the same reasons. And so on, right the way back to the first minute.  So if you tell me I’m going to die in the next ten times, but since I won’t know when then that can’t possibly be true. So I’m okay then.’

Jim nodded.  ‘Very clever,’ he said, ‘and you only took three of the ten minutes to work that out - but I have a counterargument that perhaps you have not thought of…’

Bill was about to say ‘I don’t think so,’ but by that time Jim had pulled out a gun and shot him.

‘So much for logic,’ Jim said.

bottom of page