The Blind Mice

“Hi Jack, how are things.” Jill sat down at the café table where Jack was enjoying a cup of coffee and eating a croissant as an afternoon snack to relax after university classes.

“Fine, Jill, but feeling a bit weird,” replied Jack, munching on his croissant.

“Tell me all about it, Jack, I’m listening,” said Jill. She ordered coffee and a donut from the hovering waitress.

“Well, I’m doing an internship for my course on statistics with a Dr. Schnitzelbrenner who is carrying out medical research using blind mice,” said Jack, sipping his coffee.

“And what does Dr. Schnitzelbrenner do with the blind mice,” asked Jill, adjusting the dishes on the table to accommodate the coffee and donut being carelessly dumped by the waitress.

“Well, Jill, he has a large black cat named Schreck – that seems to get fatter by the day – which he uses to frighten four blind mice into running out of their cages in the direction of five entrances, one containing a large chunk of their favorite aromatic cheese,” explained Jack.

“What in the world is Dr. Schnitzelbrenner doing that for,” asked an incredulous Jill. She moved closer to the table and crossed her legs, elbow on a knee holding up her head and gazing attentively at Jack.

“Dr. Schnitzelbrenner says he is testing the orientative capacity of terrorized blind mice compared with blind mice who are not in a state of terror, using a quadruple-blind testing method – all for the purpose of developing a drug for Big Pharma against disorientation,” said Jack nonchalantly as he was ingesting the last piece of croissant.

“How is this a quadruple-blind test,” inquired Jill.

“Well, Dr. Schnitzelbrenner is using four blind mice,” explained Jack.

“Oh, I get it, that’s why it’s a quadruple blind test,” laughed Jill.

“And how will Dr. Schnitzelbrenner determine whether his medicine works or not,” asked Jill.

“Well, if all the mice go into different entrances in any one trial, a light switches on and a buzzer sounds. It is my job as a statistician to record these trials, with or without signals going off,” explained Jack.

“According to Dr. Schnitzelbrenner, if the terrorized mice all head for the entrance with cheese, then they are not to be considered disoriented and the drug works. If they all go to different entrances, then they are randomly well disoriented,” continued Jack.

“Hmm, tell me more,” said Jill.

“If not too many mice die from the active substance in the drug, Dr. Schnitzelbrenner hopes to win the Nobel Prize for this new medicine, which he says will aid senior citizens who suffer from disorienting illnesses,” added Jack.

“Very quaint experiment, I must say, but senior citizens will not normally be in a state of terror,” observed Jill.

“According to Dr. Schnitzelbrenner, senior citizens actually do suffer from a suppressed subconscious fear-of-death-inspired terror, and that is really why they easily become disoriented,” explained Jack.

“I see. How long will you be working with Dr. Schnitzelbrenner, Jack?”

“Just another week or so, after I calculate the probability of randomly well-disoriented blind mice each winding up in separate entrances, which I find a bit difficult,” confessed Jack.

“How about a walk in the park, Jack, to get your mind off Dr. Schnitzelbrenner’s terrorizing research, and I’ll give you some hot tips,” she suggested, emptying her cup of coffee.

“Capital idea, Jill.”

They paid and left the café.

Can you work out the probability of a group of four blind mice all going into a separate entrance in any single trial with five entrances?

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