Can you solve the jelly bean problem

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It might not be poisonous, but it will cause acne (P < 0.05)


I’d stick with the green one, because I think this guy saw that I was about to escape unpunished and made up that tradition about taking away a poisonous one just to trick me into switching.

He could obviously tell that I’m a great logician (or had heard this one before, at any rate) and would know that switching increases my odds. So I can clearly not choose the jelly bean in front of him.


Trying to explain the MH problem to someone who doesn’t (and refuses to) get it is one of life’s most frustrating experiences. I never do it any more.


Yeah, life’s too short. But what if there was this airplane on a treadmill…


The 3 door monty hall problem is hard to grasp.

The 1000 door monty hall problem is easy though…

In case you haven’t heard of it, the problem is the same, but after you choose your door, the presenter removes 998 of the other doors. Now, do you switch from the one you originally picked? Or do you think you happened to get the 1/1000 chance?


Exactly! If the green one was deadly, he would have sat there looking smug and waiting for the Grim Reaper. Because of a plum.

A goddam plum.

Now I don’t know if this tradition is real or not, but absent deadly force, there’s no way I’m eating any of them. Here I am, alone with a man who says they’re his plums, who says there’s this traditional Game of Death, and he’s perfectly willing to stand there and watch a man die to make a logical point? Let’s give him this mushroom and see which frog he licks.


I would “solve” this by eating them all, I’d still die but at least I’d get a delicious last meal.

What’s the penalty for stealing two jelly beans, life imprisonment?



I hate to ruin it for you. But the green one is booger flavor.

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Ha! I already thought of that, he says very clearly, “all three of the jelly beans are delicious” so instead of getting one delicious jelly bean and walking away free and alive, I get three delicious jelly beans, and die a happy man.


Ah, I completely disagree. I work with a lot of smart people and have introduced this problem to many of them over the years. I always take great satisfaction in being able to explain this simple yet perplexing logic problem to them, even if they are far smarter than me (which is usually the case).

Also, if you can effectively explain the Monty Hall problem to anyone, than you probably have good communicative/teaching skills, so I take it as a personal challenge as well.



Nope. That’s never helped me. The response I get is “Well, yeah, OK, if there are a thousand doors, but if there are only three it’s different. Still 50:50. No need to change my choice.”.

That’s a much nicer attitude than mine. Thanks. I do tend to be an asshole about these things.

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I got someone who insisted this to model it in excel and show me that the odds were 50:50 like he was insisting. That worked…eventually.


It all depends on whether the man with the jellybeans has blue eyes. nods sagely


That will show that switching is better, but not really why. The very first thing I did when I heard of the Monty Hall problem maybe 15 years ago was to code up a simulation. That was easy. Getting an intuitive feeling for why took me a lot longer.

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Heresy! Everyone knows there’s only a red or a blue jellybean pill to choose from. If there were a green one, the entire universe would implode.

Who liked jelly beans?

Ronald Reagan liked jelly beans.