The Carrot Experiment

At work today, one of my employees was doing an experiment on people.  It went something like this:

-Repeat the following numbers after she says them.
So she says, 5, then you say 5, etc.  These are the numbers (I think).

-5; 55; 505; 5055; 50,550.  After you repeat the number she then says “name a vegetable.”

Apparently, 76% of people will say carrot, 20% will say broccoli, and 2% will say something else.  I said cucumber, which technically is not a vegetable and when I mentioned that, she asked me to say another one, I did say broccoli.

I came home and decided to look this up.  I found a few websites promoting it as a mind-trick, but they had the person answer some simple math, 5+1, 4+2, 3+3, then say six ten times as fast you can.  Then ask them to say a vegetable.  People speculated that the number six causes people to think of a vegetable with six letters, but I do not think that is it.

I do not think there is anything remarkable about this.  When you do a Google image search for vegetable, almost every single image has a carrot in it.  Think back to any school poster you saw mentioning vegetables, a carrot is always in there.

It is interesting that different websites claim different statistics for the results.  A few of them mention 95% say carrot.  My guess is that the actual percentages are made up and this is a type of magicians trick.  If the person said carrot, they are amazed by the fact that you guessed it.  If the person says something else, they are told how unique they are for being in that low percentage.  The numbers game at the beginning has nothing to do with it at all.

One of the trick sites mentions to write down carrot on a piece of paper and place it in front of the person so they cannot read it.  When they say carrot, flip it over and prove how amazing you are at predicting the future.  Although, I am not sure what you do in that case if they guess something else.  I guess just move on.

Sorry, I did not mean to ramble on about this.