Friday, May 18, 2007

Bertrand Russell, Atheist

May 18 is Bertrand Russell’s birthday. As most of my readers know, Russell was a mathematician, philosopher, witty writer, and outspoken atheist. In his honor, I’ve created the following test to see if you can follow directions. Start with the words Bertrand Russell, Atheist. Line up the letters, closing the spaces between words and eliminating the comma. Then perform each step. When you arrive at the end, if you’ve followed all directions correctly, you’ll find an appropriate phrase.


02. reverse the order of the 6th and 7th letters from the right

03. change all L’s to C’s

04. move the 3rd consonant from the right to make it the second letter from the left

05. reverse the order of the 4th and 7th letters from the left

06. move the 5th letter from the left to the right end

07. move the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th letters from the left, in that order, to the right end

08. change all E’s to Y’s

09. insert MN in place of U

10. change the 4th letter from the left to a W

11. wherever a letter appears twice in a row, remove one

12. reverse the order of the 2nd and 3rd letters from the right

13. double the 2nd letter from the left

14. change all B’s to A’s

15. move the 3rd letter from the left to the right end

16. replace all R’s with I’s

17. replace the 2nd S from the right with O, and drop the letter after it

18. not counting Y as a vowel, reverse the order of the 1st two vowels from the left

19. reverse the order of the 10th and 11th letters from the right

20. move the last letter at the right to the left of the 1st Y from the right

21. reverse the order of the 1st and 4th letters from the left

22. reverse the order of all C’s and the letters just to the right of them

23. replace the 7th letter from the right with an R


the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

I messed up - WHYIAMRCSYTAHYIOIAN. I'll try again, though, right now.

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

Now that I know what it's supposed to be, I have to figure out how I managed a "w" instead of an "n" at the end... =/

This is fun. :)

the blogger formerly known as yinyang said...

Stupid clerical error, that's all. :P

Abacquer said...

Clearly I cannot follow directions:

Abacquer said...

Hmm. I've got it now, but only by changing the last step. It says 7th letter from the LEFT. Shouldn't that be RIGHT?

The Exterminator said...


Yup. I made the fix. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I got wayimnotachrystian

Anonymous said...

Right first time, although I felt very at sea in the middle, nearly started again. Good job I kept the faith!

The Exterminator said...

Top marks to yinyang, Abacquer, and Hemant, all of whom solved the puzzle when there was an obvious error (now corrected) in the last step.

Bravo to tobe, who had faith in the scientific method, even when his work appeared to be leading him nowhere. Russell would be proud.

Catt, although you didn't follow directions 100% accurately, you were sooooo close. You can probably figure out the intended result from your answer. Of course, getting there is all the fun, so why not try again? Or better still, torment your friends with this.

Thank you all for playing.

Anonymous said...



The Exterminator said...


Actually, remember it's a Bertrand Russell puzzle, so the solution is WHOMWOULDJESUSDO. But you came pretty close.

BEAST FCD said...

Erm....Russell was an agnostic, not an atheist.

The Exterminator said...


During his long lifetime, Russell used both "agnostic" and "atheist" to refer to himself. His agnosticism was of the Richard Dawkins type: a solid unbelief, but a technical inability to state absolutely that there are no gods. I suspect that most atheists, myself included, fall into the same category.