It’s just FizzBuzz all over again

Interesting (and troubling) discussion over at Coding Horror. It seems that some of Jeff’s readers, the majority of whom I assume to be developers of some sort or another, can’t get their heads around some probability theory. I’ll admit that I needed a little help on my way to solving the problem: reading the second phrasing of the problem in the linked article made it seem much simpler. I think that people generally find it easier to think in terms of whole numbers of people and split them into groups rather than thinking in terms of nebulous probabilities.

That’s fine. My problem is that a group of guys that (I assume) write software for a living can’t follow the solution even when it’s spelled out several times for them, instead arguing that the intuitive answer is correct when it’s really no more than a guess. These are supposed to be smart, well-educated logical people, and it’s really very surprising to see that they don’t get this sort of thing. I’m no genius myself, but give me a pen and paper and I can at least try and follow an argument. I realise that much software development work doesn’t really involve much heavy-duty maths – I just think guys that write code should be able to figure this stuff out. I wonder if these are the same people who can’t write FizzBuzz?