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Mathematician's Answer
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Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })"Could you describe Mathematician's Answer here?" Yes. "...Would you describe it here?" Yes. "..." Well, of course I'll describe it to you! First you asked me if I could describe it, then you asked if I would describe it. But you never actually asked me to describe the trope to you. "Alright, then. Describe Mathematician's Answer here." If you ask someone a question, and they give you an entirely accurate answer that is of no practical use whatsoever, they have just given you a Mathematician's Answer. A common form of this trope is to fully evaluate the logic of the question and give a logically correct answer. Such a response may prove confusing for someone who interpreted what they said colloquially. Examples include requests for favors being superficially interpreted as requests for information ("Can you do me a favor?" being interpreted as "Are you capable of doing me a favor?"). Such examples are often used in linguistics and philosophy of language to illustrate how context and convention determine implicit meaning: "Do you have any spare pillows?" "Yes. Thank you for asking." People do not usually ask for trivial information or information they already possess, which is how competent speakers know not to provide the Mathematician's Answer. This is also a favorite of English teachers and Grammar Nazis, frequently going through something similar to "Can I come in?" "I don't know, can you?" "Uh, may I come in?". Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_2'); })Another common form is when a character is asked "Is it A or B?" they will respond "Yes" as if it were a question of Boolean logic rather than clarifying which specific one is the case (though this can also occur if the responder does not know the answer, or considers both answers correct. This crops up a lot in Real Life, especially in the world of computers). This occurs because a question of the form "Is the capital of Australia Melbourne or Canberra?" is ambiguous between "The capital of Australia is either Melbourne or Canberra. Which one is it?" and "Is it the case that the capital of Australia is either Melbourne or Canberra?". A logician may mistake the former for the latter, to the questioner's frustration. A third variant is when a "How?" question (as in "By what method?") is answered with an adverb or adverbial phrase, as if the question had been "In what manner?". For example: "How did you get past the guards?" "With difficulty." Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_3'); })Can be used by characters for reasons ranging from snarky humor to intentional obfuscation to being extremely LiteralMinded — AI and other Literal Genies by their nature are very likely to fall into the last category. Can overlap with Shaped Like Itself when the question is seeking a description, and with Captain Obvious, as these answers tend to be selfevident for anyone with a brain. Usually doubles as a Cryptically Unhelpful Answer, when the "mathematician" is deliberately trying to confound the questioner. Compare NonAnswer, which is a vague "answer" which does not answer the question at all. Mildly related to What's a Henway? and Not Actually the Ultimate Question. Can also overlap with Comically Missing the Point if the speaker genuinely thinks he/she is giving an answer. The trope name comes from a family of jokes about the supposed habit of mathematicians to make unhelpful answers. For example: a man in a hotair balloon asked someone where he was. "You're in a balloon," he answered. The rider concluded that it was a mathematician that said that, because the answer was perfectly correct and completely useless. (The joke sometimes continues with the mathematician deducing that the man in the balloon is a manager, because he has risen to his position with a lot of hot air, has no idea where he is or where he is going, and yet claims this is the fault of the innocent person standing below him.) All of Them is a subtrope that's its own Stock Phrase, as an answer to a question of quantity. See also What's a Henway?. Contrast Implied Answer when the question isn't answered at all, and the meaning is quite clear. Often the answer is Trivially Obvious. Related to Rhetorical Question Blunder: the person who was asked gives a logical answer that ruins the spirit of the question. May be a feature of AntiHumor when given as the punchline to a joke. A wellknown example is "Why did the chicken cross the road?" "To get to the other side". 

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El Arca goes with the Airplane!style gag.  
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Bleach: When a very young Uryuu asks his father why he hates being a Quincy, Ryuuken replies "because there's no money in it", leaving Uryuu so shocked and troubled that he runs to his grandfather in tears, asking if Ryuuken's answer is a truth or lie. Souken points out that, because Ryuuken has a family to raise, it can be viewed as truthful. In fact, Ryuuken is telling the truth from any angle  being Quincy never pays the bills regardless of whether or not there's a family to raise. However, Uryuu wants to know why Ryuuken hates being a Quincy, yet neither Ryuuken nor Souken actually answer that question. They both sidestep it completely.  
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In Shrek the Third, Pinocchio has a very confusing one in order to not lie to Prince Charming about where Shrek is. It involves Confusing Multiple Negatives. Unfortunately, it gets so aggravatingly confusing that his allies crack and tell the truth.  
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In Asteroid in Love, Mai gives one when Mira noticed she is holding two maps when they visit the shrine at new year's:  
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In Mumfie's Quest, when the Secretary of Night asks for Mumfie's name, his answer is "Yes!". The Secretary asks what he means, and he says that he has a name, and gives the correct response.  
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During the scene in Meet the Robinsons where Bud and Lewis try to make their way back to the garage, they stumble upon a dog wearing spectacles.  
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This can come up in Monster of the Week. The rules for the investigate a mystery move specify that the GM has to answer honestly, within the limitations of the source the hunter is using to investigate. If the monster is something that doesn't appear in the chosen source  a technological abomination or alien being being looked up in a medieval grimoire, for example  the answers are likely to be deeply unhelpful but technically accurate.  
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In Hamlet: Polonius attempts to get some information on Hamlet to report back to the king, but not wanting to betray his regicidal scheme and not wasting an opportunity to bother his girlfriend's intrusive father, Hamlet gives the most obvious and unhelpful answers he can.  
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In 1776, when John Hancock asks about the absent New Jersey delegates:  
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Out of the Achievement Hunter crew, Ryan is incredibly likely to use this tactic as a way of invoking Exact Words or Loophole Abuse, though he also does it to be a Deadpan Snarker. For instance, this example after he shot Jeremy in their 5th Trouble in Terrorist Town Let's Play:  
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In Iolanthe, when Strephon is required to prove that the title character is really his mother, he points out she gave birth to him and raised him from childhood, and therefore she must be his mother.  
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In I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus, when the Clemclone asks "How are you, Doctor?" Dr. Memory replies in a flat monotone: "The Doctor is on."  
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During the trial arc of Schlock Mercenary, the company lawyer manages, through convoluted wordplay, to ask if he can ask a question without, in fact, asking a question. Petey, duly impressed with this feat, allows it.  
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Kotaro of Zombie Land Saga uses these to handwave any big questions. How did he raise the seven girls from the dead? Well, just like in a zombie movie! Why are they alive after they died? Well they're zombies, duh! Does he know what the population of Saga is? Of course he does, it's small! Needless to say, the girls are very frustrated by this.  
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The Jolly Roger Telephone Company is an online company that offers bots which are designed to waste the time of telemarketers by using prewritten routines and otherwise responding with stuff like "Sure," "Mmhmm," and "right." As such, any direct question, such as "Can you give me your credit card number?" (bank account number, etc.) will generally be answered in such a way, driving the telemarketers nuts, as the bots will say essentially that they yes, they can give the number, but they never do.  
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In The Pirates of Penzance, the MajorGeneral wants to find out something about the men in piratical outfits who propose to marry his daughters: This is also an ironic inversion of the trope, as the answer uses the ambiguities of language to provide the information he wants (that the pirates are in fact all eligible bachelors in good standing, being actually English gentlemen) while appearing not to. 

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Used multiple times in Twelfth Night. When Malvolio tells Olivia that a man wants to see her and will not be turned away: Also, when Viola meets Feste: 

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In Chicago:  
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SpiderMan: Into the SpiderVerse: In The Stinger, SpiderMan 2099 and 60’s SpiderMan get into a heated argument about who pointed at the other first. J. Jonah Jameson and a cop witness this, and the cop also wonders who pointed first. Jameson helpfully says “SpiderMan pointed first, obviously!”.  
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In My Hero Academia, Todoroki somehow manages to completely refurbish his dorm room, making it look like it was taken wholesale out of a traditional Japanese house, complete with tatami mat flooring and a shoji door replacing the sliding glass door out to the veranda. His classmates ask how he was able to do it all in under a day entirely by himself. Todoroki's response? "I worked really hard."  
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The CGI film Bee Movie has a scene between a human woman and a talking bee:  
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From the English dub of Lupin III:  
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Elvis Costello, Brutal Youth, "My Science Fiction Twin":  
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Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple example!  
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In Chobits, Hideki and Chi receive a mysterious file with a map attached. Hideki wonders out loud what it is, and Sumomo declares that she knows, announcing that it's a file attachment. Hideki gets annoyed but Shinbo explains that Sumomo is a less advanced persocom who has trouble grasping abstract concepts like that.  
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The Taming of the Shrew gives us this exchange concerning Petruchio:  
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"Daddy Wouldn't Buy Me a Bow Wow", a music hall number by Joseph Tabrar. The title is the singer's answer when her teacher asks her why she brings her cat to school.  
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Fairy Tail: During Lucy's fight with Byro, her opponent uses a concoction that causes him to transform into a giant octopus.  
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The Seraphim of In Nomine are masters of this, since they are angels of truth who are forbidden to lie. Technically true answers keep them from the edge  if sometimes just barely.  
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At a Battlestar Galactica (2003) conference, someone asked star Jamie Bamber, "How many people would you kill so that you could be on Doctor Who?"  
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A typical line from Rotom Dex in the anime version of Pokémon Sun and Moon does this whenever forced to choose between two or more equal probabilities. "I calculate a 50% chance that our friends went this way, and a 50% chance that they went this other way!" Other characters are quick to point out that he's not being very helpful, assuming they don't just ignore him entirely.  
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Rurouni Kenshin has one of these during the Jinchu Arc:  
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In The Goon Show episode, "The Lost Emperor", young Neddie Seagoon is working in the Victoria and Albert Museum late at night when Moriarty and Grytpype come in and pull a gun on him.  
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Jonah in Jormungand is awful at math, so when he's basically asked 22 times 3 while the Logistics crew are at an airport, he answers "A bunch."  
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This exchange in Haruhi Suzumiya, when the group encounters a giant cricket in an alternate dimension:  
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