Monday, 16 December 2013

Murdoch is Evil Puzzle

If you live in Australia, you may have noticed a bit of a media flurry in the last week about the message MURDOCH IS EVIL running backwards through a word search puzzle for kids. It appeared in the Sunday Telegraph — a Murdoch-owned paper! Oh my!

The offending word search, in the Sunday Telegraph
Image source:
This caused rather a storm on Twitter and online.

So — this is the big question : is this one of those accidentally created messages, like the faux pas we saw with the Woolies word search a few months ago?

The short answer: NO.

The long answer:

This hidden message was put there intentionally by the setter (and personally, I'd give them a medal). Yes, it's possible for words to be accidentally created in any grid of random letters — but these are almost exclusively 3, 4, and 5 letter words (and the 5 letter words are rare, at that). This is why swear words — those infamously 'four letter words' – can easily be accidentally created in a word search grid.

For a short phrase like MURDOCH IS EVIL to occur by accident, the chances are roughly 26 (number of letters in the alphabet) to the power of 13 (how many letters are in the phrase).


1 in 2613 = 1 in 2,481,152,873,203,736,576

That's one chance in roughly 2.5 QUINTILLION (or TRILLION, depending on where you live).

(This is a rough calculation, I've not taken into account things like the higher distribution of vowels etc, but regardless, it's basically impossible that this message would have occurred by chance.)

So no. This message was not created accidentally! It harkens back to the crossword lashing of Rebekah Brooks by the News of the World setter.

Subversive puzzle setters of the world unite! Well done, mate.


  1. Tee hee. Loved the News of the World revenge ;-)

    Happy 100th birthday of the crossword puzzle to you!

    Cheers, Karin


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