“Ok, wait, so you’re in a prison, there’s two knights guarding two doors. One always tells the truth and one always lies. One of the doors leads to your freedom, and one leads to instant death. What is the one question you ask to get to freedom? You can only ask one question to one of the knights.”
“So the answer is “Which door would the other knight say leads to freedom?” Because if you ask the knight who tells the truth, they would point to the door that leads to death because that’s the door the liar would point at, and if you ask the knight who lies, they’ll lie and say the knight who tells the truth will point at the door that leads to death. Either way, you’ll be able to figure out which one leads to freedom.”
The informant is my friend. He is a sophomore at UC Berkeley and is Jewish. He has been sharing riddles with me since high school. This information was collected during a FaceTime call.
This is a very classic riddle that embodies the concept of “multiplicity and variation.” I have heard versions of this riddle that take place at a fork in the road, in a basement, and even in space! This riddle is even featured as a part of the plot in the movie Labyrinth. Even though the setting of the riddle changes, the core stays the same. There is always one person who lies and one person who tells the truth. Additionally, no one knows where this riddle originated, which further cements this riddles place as a part of folklore.
Keartes, Sarah. “How to Beat the LABYRINTH Two-Door Riddle.” Nerdist, Geek Sundry, 14 Jan. 2016, 4:30 pm, nerdist.com/article/how-to-beat-the-labyrinth-two-door-riddle/.
Growing up there were a lot of hills all around our home and neighborhood wherever you looked. You could also see hills way out in the distance on the bus to and from elementary school. There was this one tree on one of the hills that was way, way the farthest away. It came up straight and narrow with no branches until you got to the top of the tree, which was a perfect circle. It was basically a lollipop-looking tree. I don’t know how we knew it was a tree or how we could only see that tree from far away, but it seemed to be the only tree on the hill, and it sat perfectly at the top center of the hill.
Anyway, what some of the kids would say was that it was the “lollipop tree,” and if you somehow got passed all the hills and made your way up close to it, if you said something true you would get a fistful of lollipops. But if you lied near the tree, or touching it, something terrible would happen. Like maybe you or a loved one would die.
Some people said if you lied just while looking at it, even from so far away on the bus, you could get into some serious trouble.
That tree must have been a big deal, because sometimes a bus driver would even yell, “There’s the lollipop tree!” And they’d point at it out the windshield.
The story of the lollipop tree is a cautionary tale meant to teach good behavior to the children of the rural community. While sometimes the legend served as a right of initiation, as adults or older children who no longer believed in the magic would tell younger children to encourage honesty or to frighten them, it also served as a myth for why there was such a strange, distinctive tree on the town skyline. The tree was visible enough that it aroused curiosity, but so far away that not many people seemed to know the truth of why it was there alone, or if it was even a tree.