Can You Spot the Mistake in Less Than Five Seconds? Brain Teaser Challenges Puzzle Fans

May 22, 2019 Updated: June 16, 2019

A new brain teaser asks people to spot the mistake in just seconds.

A user on Playbuzz created the challenge, telling people they should spot what’s wrong in less than five seconds.

The puzzle looks simple, with nine numbers–each a different color.

The creator said: “It’s harder than it looks.”

The answer has nothing to do with the colors or the numbers, but the text. Find the word “the” to get the answer.

Even though it’s a tad bit unfair, that’s the nature of puzzles.

Another Simple Problem Goes Viral

This “simple” math problem stumped many over the years, starting in Japan.

The problem went viral in Japan after a recent study found only 60 percent of people between the ages of 21 and 29 could get the correct answer–down from 90 percent in the 1980s.

Despite appearing simple, Presh Talwalker of Mind Your Decisions made note what had fooled most people.

“You should write an expression that groups one third as one group,” he says in the video. “Three divided by one third is equal to nine, and now we have nine minus nine, plus one,” he added

The solution harkens back to an acronym some likely learned in school: BODMAS, or brackets, open; divide; multiply; add; and subtract, in that order. It’s also known as PEMDAS, or parentheses first, exponents (ie powers and square roots) next, multiplication and division (left-to-right), and addition and subtraction (left-to-right).

Are Americans Bad at Math?

It’s been noted that Americans aren’t great at math compared to other developed countries.

“Americans continually score either in the mid- or bottom-tier when it comes to math and science compared to their international peers,” says BigThink. “Students have a fundamental misunderstanding of what math is and what it can do. By viewing it as a language, students and teachers can begin to conceptualize it in easier and more practical ways.”

It says that Americans worry too much about “rote memorization,” and students have a difficult time learning the concepts in sequential order.

“Unlike the more difficult and comprehensive math tests given to test students’ comprehension, this test was for basic numeracy skills. The United States fell behind in 22nd place,” it says.