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A person is locked up in a mental institution because he claims that he's been having clairvoyant visions from ages long time ago. At some point, it becomes evident that he actually tells the truth and that he indeed can see the past, just as if he was there.

It is a gold mine for the historians, so the police and others so the authorities immediately issue an order of release. However, due to some confusion at the mental institution, it's unclear who he is. After eliminating all possible candidates, the correct selection process produces two individuals - Adam and Benny. Precisely one of them is guaranteed to be the medium with superpowers, while the other is a fraudulent liar. The problem is that there's no way to determine who's who.

Both of them claim to be the true psychic and both state that they're immensely upset with the unfair incarceration in the mental institution. As a result, both refuse to provide any new story from the past to verify the ability.

Finally, both agree to tell one story each. The subject is a feast at a house of a Viking family and based on that, we need to determine who's the true asset and who's a darn cheat.

Adam's story:
We started with a main course consisting of beef and a side salad of carrots and cabbage. The beverage was served first afterwards, together with mashed apples cooked in cow milk and flour. There was no singing and the conversation was in English.

Benny's story:
First, we had some beer, not very strong, and then water. We were served pork dipped in fat and burned almost to well-done over an open fire. On the plate, we also got eggs and some kind of mix of tomatoes and potatoes. For desert, we had a cake with a lot of berries. It was noisy from the music and singing.

After being presented with the above information, a person stands up and states: "I know who's got the super powers!"

Who is it and why?

Story revelation

The language remark is a honeypot - it's actually not the issue at all. Vikings did visit England and it's possible that they spoke the language. Also, there's been Vikings living on the British islands and I never said where the feast is taking place. Also, it's possible that the guests at the feast were visitors from England.

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  • $\begingroup$ I know it must be more complex than "vikings don't speak English", but I have nothing other than that. I look forward to seeing some creative answers. $\endgroup$ – raisinghellyer Sep 18 '15 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @raisinghellyer You're correct. The language remark is actually a honeypot. And I see that at least one user went for it. $\endgroup$ – Konrad Viltersten Sep 18 '15 at 16:38
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    $\begingroup$ @KonradViltersten I think the term you want is 'red herring'. From Dictionary.com: "something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue." I'm having trouble finding a good definition for 'honeypot', but in my experience the term refers to a trap designed to appear attractive to its target. An example would be a bait vehicle which is left unlocked and monitored by police to catch would-be car thieves. $\endgroup$ – eclipz905 Sep 18 '15 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ Aren't clairvoyance and time travel two different things? $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Sep 18 '15 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ This puzzle could be more briefly written as "Which of the following two descriptions of a Viking feast is historically accurate?" I realize that's not as fun, but there are eight paragraphs here, and only two are the meat of the puzzle. That's a lot of bread for a little meat. $\endgroup$ – David Conrad Sep 20 '15 at 19:23
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The one with powers is

Adam

Reasoning:

Tomatoes weren't seen outside of the South American continent until the 1500s, or thereabouts, somewhat after the vikings' main era of prominence. Since Benny claims to have eaten them, he's probably a liar. Or Adam edited the wikipedia page to discredit him.

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  • $\begingroup$ We can safely assume that nobody was fooling around with Wikipedia. Your answer is almost fully correctly supported. You might also point to potatoes (same origin, same introduction era). +1 for linkage and speed. May I ask how you figured it out? $\endgroup$ – Konrad Viltersten Sep 18 '15 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ @KonradViltersten I think tomatoes and potatoes being an import from South America is a well known fact. When I read through the stories, I was actually looking to see if potatoes would be mentioned by the fraud. $\endgroup$ – Rob Watts Sep 18 '15 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ @KonradViltersten The language thing seemed like a red herring, and I know vikings were present in Britain at points. That left either viking feast etiquette or the food that was present as the potential identifiers, and one was much easier to check than the other. Good puzzle, thanks! $\endgroup$ – LogicianWithAHat Sep 18 '15 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I'm glad people enjoyed it. It's my second question here and I'm enjoying it so much, I've already created a third. Creating the questions is much more fun because watching you guys break them down within minutes makes me realize that I've got nothing to compare with you. I'm filled with awe and respect. And some fear... :) $\endgroup$ – Konrad Viltersten Sep 18 '15 at 20:20
  • $\begingroup$ @KonradViltersten A lot of it's luck, really. You have hundreds of people looking at a puzzle, and it only takes one to have a flash of insight to solve it. 100 people looking at a question for 5 minutes each is over 8 'man-hours' spent on it in total $\endgroup$ – LogicianWithAHat Sep 18 '15 at 20:25
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I believe the clairvoyant who had 'real' visions is

Benny.

Reason:

The clairvoyant is having a vision and describing what he sees and hears. Even if the clairvoyant witnessed Vikings in 11th Century England, he would still be describing what he saw and heard ... and the language of 11th England at the time is this this language ... certainly not recognisable to a modern ear or eye as 'English'!

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The singing reference & 'desert' might not be typical, but there's no guarantee that this was a typical feast being described. And while the mistakes of 'potatoes' & 'tomatoes' might be anachronisms, he's not describing the dish being creating ... he's describing what was served to him. It is entirely plausible that a clairvoyant who could see an 11th Century feast might describe a stew of 'tomatoes and potatoes' ... making guesses based on what the vegetables were. Heck, anyone clairvoyant describing a meal that I make now would have to take massive guesses on what the original ingredients were ... being clairvoyant means that they can see what happens at the meal - not that they are experts at identifying the ingredients of the mush that I end up making.


Conclusion:

The 'English' clue is a double red-herring. It's so obviously wrong that we are meant to research the English language and decide that it's plausible since it technically was Old English ... without stopping to think a modern clairvoyant hearing a conversation in that language could never recognise it as English!

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Given the stories I am pretty sure Vikings didn't speak English so that seems to be a dead giveaway that Benny is the real clairvoyant.

However I think the puzzle is fundamentally illogical considering:

The problem is that there's no way to determine who's who.

Couldn't he just tell each of the officials/historians/etc. a fact that only they know from their past to prove? Seems pretty straight forward. I might be missing something but this doesn't seem entirely puzzling.

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  • $\begingroup$ There's no way at the moment. Then, they decide to tell the story and that's the only way to determine that. It's in the nature of the puzzle that you can't ask additional questions. Otherwise, you're correct - just ask them something and verify. The problem is that they won't participate in that because of being upset by the treatment. However, something in the story actually provides a hint already. Also, please see regarding the language in the update to the question. $\endgroup$ – Konrad Viltersten Sep 18 '15 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ But there is a way to determine who's who. Just verify the details of the Viking feast, as has been done. It should say something like, the officials at the institution can't tell who's who. $\endgroup$ – David Conrad Sep 20 '15 at 19:21

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