In early December 2013, there was a bit of a media flurry 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!
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 while earlier?
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.