Solution: The Believable Untruth


Authors: Pichusuperlover, Dan Simon, Alison Chang

This puzzle is inspired by “The Unbelievable Truth,” a BBC radio panel show.

The bulk of the puzzle is composed of lectures made entirely of lies. The names of the host and contestants clue 5 categories that make some of the lies close to true if you perform a transformation. In each lecture, there is 1 sentence that falls into each of these categories.

The categories are as follows:

Anagram (Anna Gram): Anagram a word or phrase in the sentence

  1. Before they went extinct, T-Rexes were dinosaurs that hunted with their arrested fangs. (Arrested -> Serrated)
  2. Onions are sometimes prepared alongside metas—how delicious. (Metas -> Meats)
  3. In Spain, for example, Dota rams wave crimson capes (Dota rams -> Matadors)
  4. One of the classic Christian traditions is “March Sits.” (March Sits -> Christmas)

Misconception (Miss Conception): Identify a common misconception

  1. The other is when Joseph-Ignace Guillotin was executed by one of his own inventions.
  2. You might know nicotine as the main thing that makes smoking unhealthy.
  3. Tetanus bacteria only occur on rust.
  4. Marie Antoinette famously said “Qu'ils mangent de la brioche.”

Off by one (Oph Bai Won): Change a number by 1

  1. Fennec foxes are on average 1.2 meters tall. (1.2 -> 0.2)
  2. Most twins come in a set of one. (One -> Two)
  3. As a baseline for comparison, there are 27 letters in the English alphabet. (27 -> 26)
  4. Walking is a process commonly done with 3 limbs. (3 -> 2/4 [both work])

Outdated (Ott Dated): The lie used to be true but became false over time

  1. For example, carrots are mainly cultivated for their leaves and seeds.
  2. For example, the iceman's wagon is a common way of cooling down food in kitchens around the globe.
  3. This is why tattoos are legal in every state other than Oklahoma.
  4. Spectacles can only be gotten through a vending machine though. (Referencing Snapchat’s Spectacles)

Substring (Sue Bestring): Take a substring of letters in a word/phrase

  1. A group of crabs is called a Lancaster. (Lancaster -> Cast)
  2. For example, in 2020's Breakfast Menu puzzle, “war gentleman” appears on numerous occasions. (War Gentleman -> Argent)
  3. As an example from books, Hester Prynne is a Wisconsin nerd who dons a crimson glyph. (Wisconsin Nerd -> Sinner)
  4. Female ostriches are called “heathen slayers.” (Heathen Slayers -> Hens)

Each of these lies happens to have exactly one word/phrase that is also a topic from a past season of the Unbelievable Truth:

Anagram19. Dinosaurs15. Onions12. Spain21. Traditions
Misconception20. Inventions9. Smoking15. Bacteria14. Marie Antoinette
Off by one9. Foxes19. Twins14. Letters20. Walking
Outdated1. Carrots16. Kitchens16. Tattoos5. Spectacles
Substring20. Crabs9. Breakfast20. Books5. Ostriches

If we take the season where each topic appeared and convert the number to letters A=1->Z=26, we get the phrase “SOLUTION ISN’T APPETITE,” which is a lie, much like this entire puzzle up until this point.

Sin Extraction

Gluttony gives the clue “If you are having an episode you might want to look for nearby food”, and provides a table the same shape as ours. Overlaying these marks 6 of the topics and gives us an order to sort them in. If you go to each of those episodes you will find each features a food, which are in order:

  1. Tattoos (16x01) -> Milk
  2. Bacteria (15x02) -> Water
  3. Ostriches (05x05) -> Toast
  4. Spectacles (05x05) -> Toast
  5. Foxes (09x03) -> Bread
  6. Kitchens (16x02) -> Breakfast Cereal

Indexing into these using the number of the episode they came from gives us “MATTER”, which is the sinful solution.

Authors’ Notes

I enjoy lying through my teeth, so I decided a puzzle was a perfect opportunity to do it without questions of morality. Eventually I remembered that the Unbelievable Truth exists, but I deemed 20 truths to be too much for my tastes, so I got rid of those and made an alternate universe version where nobody can score any points and the show always ends in a tie. Which isn’t really that far fetched given how little panel shows care about scoring.