A Turing Quandry

Ok, not exactly a Turing Test, but an interesting question.

Let’s say you are having email correspondences with two different people. You have never met either of them.

How would you prove they are separate people and not one person using two different email address?

Discount anything that has to do with gauging reactions, styles of writing, etc. I wonder if there is a logical, scientific test for this. A puzzle of sorts.

Clarification: Ideally this will not involve some kind of technologically sophisticated solution, and all three people must know of the puzzle/test. Also very important: The two people that are “seperate” know each other and can email back and forth. You are trying to fidn out if they are really separate people. Assume they know each other.

For example, say you are an employer and want to hire an employee. You want a reference. You want to be able to tell if this reference is a separate person.

The solution must involve email, i.e. no visiting the person or getting samples of their handwriting or calling them or whatnot.

Is it even possible? Is there a solution?

Feed one a bit of disinformation and see if the other suddenly knows it somehow? Being subtle about it, of course.

E-mail them some images and then check your http logs to see the geographic location of the IP that views them

Invite them both over for hot tubbing and causal foreplay with sex dolls.

This is definitely the best way, but you need to make sure they view the image (i.e. they click through the typical image blocking that goes on with most email apps). Worth noting that we’re not talking about emailing images as attachments here, but embedding an image tag in HTML email.

If it’s really the same person on the same computer, the IP address in the web server logs will be the same (barring a tech savvy person who refreshes their IP between readings).

Uh-oh, it’s the return of crazy Korean chick. ElGaupo, why do you always end up in these situations?

See if they both tell you how to spell quandary…?

Why exactly do you have to stick to the internet? Call them both?

If all “three” people know about the test, there’s no non-technological way to do it that I can think of, since if it IS one person with two email accounts, and (s)he knows about the test, it’s a simple matter to pretend to be two people and keep any information separate.

If you get a series of moderately long e-mails from each (alleged) person, you can run statistical methods on word frequencies (ex here) to see if they have distinct or remarkably similar writing styles. I believe a version of this was used to figure out who wrote some of the Federalist Papers that had disputed authorship.

Or, read the OP.

Discount anything that has to do with gauging reactions, styles of writing, etc.

Nope. If you phrase it more precisely, I could probably even prove it!

You’re edging into T-Rex DX/DeepT territory here, Guap.

if they are on different coasts maybe you can trip them up by asking what they are eating at lunchtime est. the west coasters would be eating breakfast.

Do you mean that how I’m reading it, that you want to be able to theoretically preface your email with “This is a test to see if you’re the same person” and still have a way they can’t cheat? Because I can’t figure out how else to read that.

I can’t fathom any kind of information two different people could give you that one person couldn’t just as easily fake unless you get into things so specific that you would have to already know these people well enough to not need to ask in the first place.

Heh, I actually double-checked who poster was, 'cause I didn’t remember clicking on any DeepT posts.

Sorry for the confusion; I thought ElGuapo was referring to physical characteristics of handwriting when he wrote styles of writing, not word frequencies.

Regardless, I didn’t write the post you quoted – Tom was logging in as me again. And none of you can prove otherwise.

are they on opposide coasts? perhaps you can trip them up with the 3 hour time difference.

“say, what time is it…?”


“what are you eating right now.”
“cap’n crunch”
“HA! it’s lunchtime now over where you ‘live’.”
“zounds! you’ve found me out!”

or something less lame.

With the Guap posing it as a “logic” question I assume he wants a more fool-proof solution that doesn’t depend on the possibly-same-person just screwing up.

Ok, here’s the theoretical scenario. This is all theoretical, of course. Just thinking out loud. I thought it a fun logic puzzle. Maybe they could include it on the next LSAT or GMAT.

Girl A and Guy A are looking for a threesome. They met, let’s say, at a bar during $1 shot night and discovered, after some some sexual escapades involving rubber mallets and geisha costumes, they both want a third to join them. They put a free ad in a local tabloid that decries Communists and The Patriots in the same breath. Girl B contacts Girl A via the email set up for sordid purposes and inquires. Girl A contacts Guy A and tells him to contact Girl B so they can all chat. Guy A does so, but Girl B for some reason is paranoid and wants Girl A and Guy A to prove they are different people. No phones shall be used, as caller id has put many a spy in the cold water of the Thames.

There, a theoretical example. Now, theoretically, how to solve?