You may know the dude in Where’s Waldo as the inept traveler who prepared you for picking your toddler out in a sea of tiny humans on the playground. You may not know him as the British guy originally known as Wally, who was banned by the American Library Association for nearly a decade because he had to hang out on a beach with a topless lady sunbathing (how european!). But as exciting as this bad boy can be, mathematical analysis from Slate shows that he’s as predictable as his peppermint exterior suggests.
Journalist Ben Blatt mapped 68 of old Wally’s locations in 7 primary Where’s Waldo books, coding each dot with the book and page number along the way. What he found was that over 50 percent of the time Waldo was located one of 2 strips that are only about 1.5 inches wide each, which he highlights in red in an additional map. You only have to scan 3 inches of each page to find Waldo the fastest more often than not. His predictable pattern kind of proves that all who wander are not lost. He could just be really high.
Blatt further confirmed that this would work by pinning two colleagues against each other, and the person using the strategy won out overall. And if this tactic works on grown ups, it should work on your kid. But if they beat you (no judgment, you forgot your readers) you still get to trick them into a math lesson — not to mention a lesson in the dangers of solo-travel — and that’s a victory in itself.