You might hate math and the problems that it brings with it. However, there are certain problems that make people think about the possible solution and they can’t find one. This one problem, called the Monty Hall problem, had stumped thousands of people around the world including math professors and statisticians. None of them was able to solve it so far. The person who came up with the problem is Zachary Crockett. He is a writer for Priceconomics. Zachary and his girlfriend were the first one to find the problem.
He said that he and his girlfriend debated on the problem for more than 2 hours but still couldn’t find an appropriate solution. The problem is known as Monty Hall Problem. It is named after the game show host who made it famous. The problem is like this. Let’s say there are three doors. There is a car behind one of the three doors. Behind the other door are 2 goats.
You are asked to pick one door. Then Monty shows you the goats behind one of the doors, that you didn’t choose. Now comes the situation where you are allowed to change your answer to the other door that you didn’t choose or stick with your original choice. Which one do you choose? Zachary said that he got interested in the problem and did a little research too to find the answer. Then he found out that there is another angle to the story.
In 1988, Merilyn Von Savant was interviewed by Joe Franklyn. She is one of those people who has the world’s highest IQ. She started writing for a magazine and that’s where she got a mail from someone asking about the Monty Hall problem. When it comes to people like us, the ordinary ones, we would like to stick to our original answer of the door. However, Merilyn replied, “Yes. You should switch.” Here’s why she said so. There are three doors, with a car behind one and goats behind the two. You are more likely to pick a goat than a car since the ratio here is 2/3.
When you pick door one, Monty Hall is supposed to reveal one goat regardless of what you picked. In another scenario, you might have also picked the door who has a goat behind it. Here’s when Monty asks, whether you want to keep the door you picked or you want to switch? You should most definitely switch when this question arises. If you do, there are chances that you get the car 2/3rds of the time. When Merilyn answered that question, she received thousands of letter from all over the world telling her that she was totally wrong. She was also surprised at the response. Even though her answer was right, sexism was playing its part to prove her wrong.
The Monty Hall problem was published in 1975 for the first time. A guy named Steve Selvin at Berkeley gave the problem to The American Statistician. Selvin said that you should switch and everyone believed him. In the next 15 years, many other academics repeated the same problem and no one ever told them they are wrong. Then in 1990, Merilyn answered the same question and people lost their mind. She calculated and find out that from the 10,000 response that she got after the answer, only 8% of the readers actually agreed with her. After writing some more columns about it, She was only able to raise it to 56%. Among the academics, only 35% were initially supporting the answer and the percentage rose to 70 later on. The only way she made people agree with her was by asking them to do the experiment themselves. A number of teachers of elementary, middle and high school responded that their students were able to prove her answer right.
Something about this problem really strikes chords with not only statisticians but with daily life problems as well.