This brainteaser has become a topic of hot debate; what’s your solution?

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Everything is harder than it looks.

That corollary of Murphy’s Law applies to a deceptively simple children’s puzzle that has many grownups on the internet agreeing on what isn’t the answer but few on what is.

The problem, which appears below, assigns numerical values to different fruits.

In the first row, for example, three apples are shown adding up to 30. Since 30 divided by 3 is 10, an apple has a value of 10.

Extrapolating from this, you can determine that the numerical value of a bunch of bananas in row 2 is 4. To arrive at this assumption, you subtract 10 (the apple’s value) from the total, 18, and divide by 2 (the number of bunches).

Proceeding in the same fashion, you should easily be able to complete the equation in the final row. Since coconuts have a value of 2 (a fact can be deduced from row 3), you make the substitutions and add to find the answer to the last equation: 2 + 10 + 4 = 16.

Is that the answer you arrived at? If so, congratulations. You got it wrong.

Typically, the devil is in the details.

Study the bunches of bananas in rows 2 and 3, then look carefully at row 4. Did you notice one less banana in the bunch in the bottom row? What this reveals is that a single banana has a value of 1, making the total 15 in the bottom row.

But there’s more. Compare the coconut in the third row with the same fruit in the fourth row, and you discover another subtle difference. The implication is that a whole coconut (two halves) equals 2, so one half equals 1.

That brings the total in the bottom row to 14.

But some adults presented with this answer refuse to give in and admit they were wrong. The Daily Mail notes that a war has been raging over this puzzle since December, when it first appeared. The battlefield has shifted to Facebook, where you will rationalizations like this one:

Howard Portnoy

Howard Portnoy has written for The Blaze, HotAir, NewsBusters, Weasel Zippers, Conservative Firing Line, RedCounty, and New York’s Daily News. He has one published novel, Hot Rain, (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), and has been a guest on Radio Vice Online with Jim Vicevich, The Alana Burke Show, Smart Life with Dr. Gina, and The George Espenlaub Show.

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