The Mustached Man Was …

We posted a pop quiz yesterday asking you to guess the identity of a mustached man on a long flight who read and snoozed before departing in his cashmere coat.

My hat is off to the wisdom of the crowds. Even with these very thin clues, and even though it took quite a while — it was the 315th guess, by Dave Damore — the truth came shining through:

The Reverend Al Sharpton.

One clue I didn’t give, since it would have made guessing too easy, was the book Sharpton was reading: Why Blacks Fear ‘America’s Mayor’: Reporting Police Brutality and Black Activist Politics Under Rudy Giuliani, by Peter Noel. The flight was from New York to San Francisco; interestingly, Sharpton received a police escort from the gate at San Francisco.

As for Damore, he’ll get his pick of Freakonomics schwag for his correct guess — even though he probably should have been disqualified since Sharpton was just one of 11 people he guessed. In the future, we will try to remember to specify one guess per post.

Finally: I had no idea there were so many mustached people still running around!


You were sitting to his left. Weren?t you?


"Mustached"? Is that a word? I always thought the adjective was 'Mustachioed'.

OK. You gave us the book. Now, what DVD did he watch?


If you'd limited it to one guess per post, that would've just meant he made 11 posts... doesn't seem to serve much purpose.

Taylor Smith

I don't know if it's correct or not, but I like "Mustachioed" a lot more than "Mustached". I'm going to try to work "Mustachioed" into a conversation today.


Unless you make that one guess per e-mail address it is easy enough to post twelve times. :)


Yeah, what DVD did he watch?


Was it a Jackyl?


Let's guess at the DVD for another shot at schwag:

I'm guessing "Madea's Family Reunion" by Tyler Perry.


I don't think giving the book he was reading as a clue would have made guessing too easy. I mean I probably would have guessed Jesse Jackson, Burt Reynolds, Tom Selleck, and Levitt before I got to Sharpton.

But what movie was he watching? It had to be a Martin Lawrence or Eddie Murphy film.

In Need of Sharpton's Job

How does Sharpton make money to afford a cashmere coat and first class tickets anyways? His books are ranked


What does this have to do with the wisdom of crowds?

If you take enough guesses, someone will get it right. If you flip 10,000 coins ten times in a row, a few of them will come up heads each of those times.


Sharpton was probably watching white men can't jump


Do you have stats regarding the average # of comments per post versus the average number of comments per post that promises a schwag?

btw, I just finished Gang Member for a Day. Simply awesome. Hats off to Sudhir for his courage.


What kind of cologne does he wear?

I've always wondered about that.

S. Heaton

Venkatesh's book is pretty amazing, though I would hardly call it rogue sociology compared to some of the amazing work that we've seen on race, crime, homelessness and religion.

What I like about his work, and Levitt's, is that it's a very true and open view of social science as a unified entity. It's in my mind, the antithesis of "rogue."


So, I guess you flew first class?


not really the wisdom of crowds. actually just proof by exhaustion

S. Heaton

Good calls @13, @ 16. The Wisdom of Crowds is if the some large proportion of the people guessed Sharpton. What this shows is that no crowd can come to a reasonable conclusion given such little information.

Fun game though. I was hoping it would Gabe Kaplan, from "Welcome Back Kotter."


I don't think there should be a limit on the number of guesses per post. If someone is willing to go above a beyond to do research on all the possible answers, why not let them.