Why Do We Like Puzzles

If you like wasting your time on pointless activities, join us as we talk to Chris Lear from the Magpie Crossword Magazine and discuss why humans enjoy puzzles.

In this podcast, we explore the weird and wonderful world of the cryptic crossword community. We also try to solve the puzzle of why we willingly devote time and energy to tasks that are deliberately designed to be difficult and have no obvious benefits. Finally, you can try your hand at answering one of our guest’s fiendish clues. Answers on a postcard to Aleph Insights.

A few things we mentioned in this podcast:

- Magpie Crossword Magazine
- Categories of insight
- Need for Cognition
- Need for Cognition and the Big 5


Chris Lear gives an example clue in this episode. Scroll to the end to find out the answer.

Find more Cognitive Engineering episodes here.

Answer to Chris Lear's example clue:

‘Taylor’s hit a brown-to-black clearance?’. The answer to this is ‘TWENTY-TWO’, and the clue is in a particular cryptic form known as the ‘double definition’. In this case, the two definitions are ‘Taylor’s hit’ and ‘a brown-to-black clearance’. The first definition refers to Taylor Swift’s 2012 hit ‘22’, and the second is the score for a brown-to-black clearance in snooker. What makes this a great clue is the consistency of the ‘surface reading’ (what it looks like the clue means), which seems to refer to the 1980s snooker legend Dennis Taylor. In addition, the clue has several components that might mislead a cryptic crossword fan - e.g. the word ‘hit’ which could indicate an anagram, the word ‘black’ which often means the letter ‘b’, and the word ‘Taylor’ which might look like an alternative spelling for ‘tailor’, which again could indicate an anagram.