Lateral thinking and Situation puzzles

Lateral thinking   Lateral thinking
Lateral thinking
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Lateral thinking
Lateral thinking
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Lateral thinking is solving problems through an indirect and creative approach, using reasoning that is not immediately obvious and involving ideas that may not be obtainable by using only traditional step-by-step logic. The term was coined in 1967 by Edward de Bono.
According to de Bono, lateral thinking deliberately distances itself from standard perceptions of creativity as either "vertical" logic (the classic method for problem solving: working out the solution step-by-step from the given data) or "horizontal" imagination (having a thousand ideas but being unconcerned with the detailed implementation of them).

Situation puzzles are often referred to as lateral thinking puzzles or "yes/no" puzzles.
Situation puzzles are usually played in a group, with one person hosting the puzzle and the others asking questions which can only be answered with a "yes" or "no" answer. Depending upon the settings and level of difficulty, other answers, hints or simple explanations of why the answer is yes or no, may be considered acceptable. The puzzle is solved when one of the players is able to recite the narrative the host had in mind, in particular explaining whatever aspect of the initial scenario was puzzling.
These puzzles are inexact and many puzzle statements have more than one possible fitting answer. The goal however is to find out the story as the host has it in mind. Critical thinking and reading, logical thinking, as well as lateral thinking may all be required to solve a situation puzzle. The term lateral thinking was coined by Edward De Bono to denote a creative problem-solving style that involves looking at the given situation from unexpected angles, and is typically necessary to the solution of situation puzzles.
The term "lateral-thinking puzzle" was popularised by Paul Sloane in his 1992 book Lateral Thinking Puzzlers.(Wikipedia)

Vertical thinking vs Lateral thinking.

Lateral thinking
Vertical thinking vs Lateral thinking.

Lateral thinker.

Lateral thinker
Lateral thinker.


This is the most famous situation puzzle.

A man walks into a bar, and asks the bartender for a drink of water. The bartender pulls out a gun, points it at the man, and cocks it. The man says "Thank you" and leaves.
What happened?

The question and answer segment might go something like this.

Question1: Could the bartender hear him? Answer: Yes
Question2: Was the bartender angry for some reason? A: No
Question3: Was the gun a water pistol? A: No
Question4: Did they know each other from before? A: No (or: "irrelevant" since either way it does not affect the outcome)
Question5: Was the man's "Thank you" sarcastic? A: No (or with a small hint: "No, he was genuinely grateful for some reason")
Question6: Did the man ask for water in an offensive way? A: No
Question7: Did the man ask for water in some strange way? A: Yes

Eventually the questions lead up to the conclusion that the man had the hiccups, and that his reason for requesting a drink of water was not to quench his thirst but to cure his hiccups.
The bartender realized this and chose instead to cure the hiccups by frightening the man with the gun.
Once the man realized that his hiccups were gone, he no longer needed a drink of water, gratefully thanked the bartender, and left.

This is the puzzle in precise words from the source:

A recluse puzzle.

Lateral thinking

Answer: The recluse is a lighthouse keeper and by putting off the lighthouse lights he caused ship wrecks which killed hundreds.


A bus stop pick-up.

While driving on your way home, you pass by a bus stop and see among the people waiting for the bus, an old lady who is sick and needs to be taken to the hospital, a good friend and a woman of your dream. What should you do ?

Lateral thinking

Answer: First you help the old lady into the car and ask your good friend to drive her to the hospital. Then you stand by the woman of your dream and wait for the bus.

Three cups puzzle.

The three teacups

There are 3 empty teacups on the table. Can you put 10 lumps of sugar in them so that there would be an odd number of lumps in every cup.


Answer: The three teacups

The figures on the teacups indicate the number of lumps that can be separately placed in the cups.
By placing the cup that holds 1 lump inside the cup the holds 2 lumps,


Taxi Driver

Standing on a one way street, were two highway patrol officers, specifically looking for drivers who were in violation of local traffic laws. A taxi driver was going the wrong way down the street, however, the officers did nothing. What explanation can you offer?


Answer: The taxi driver was walking at the time and not driving his cab, therefore breaking no traffic laws.

(1) What heavy seven letter word can you take two away from and be left with eight?
(2) What tastes better than it smells?
(3) What loses its head in the morning and gets it back at night?
(4) What two things can you never eat for breakfast?

(1) Weights.
(2) A tongue.
(3) A pillow.
(4) Lunch and dinner!

Common Sense Trick Questions

(1) A man went outside in the pouring rain with no protection, but not a hair on his head got wet. How come?
(2) John's father has five sons named Alan, Blan, Clan and Dlan. What did he call his fifth son?
(3) A taxi driver is going down a one way street the wrong way, he passes twelve cops. Why does he not get arrested?
(4) What is directly in the middle of Australia?
(5) A soccer player kicks a ball. It goes ten feet and comes back to him. How is this possible?
(6) On average, how many books can you put in an empty backpack?
(7) A cowboy rode to an inn on Friday. He stayed two nights and left on Friday. How can this be?

(1) The man is bald.
(2) John.
(3) He was walking on foot.
(4) The letter R.
(5) He kicked the ball upwards.
(6) One. After that, it isn't empty.
(7) His horse was called Friday.


Is A Lateral thinker Also A Psychopath?

If you can answer any of the following questions, YOU, probably, are a psychopath.

The love of her life.

A Psychopath is also a lateral thinker, i.e., a problem solver.

However, she never asked for his name or number and afterwards could not find anyone who knows who he was.

A few days later the woman kills her own sister.

Question: Why did she do it?


Answer: The woman kills her sister in the hopes that the guy will come to the funeral and she can see him again.

A Psychopath Who Hanged Himself

Psychopaths are people who think they are smarter than the lawmen..

There is a large wooden barn which is completely empty except for a dead man hanging from the middle of the central rafter. The rope around his neck is ten feet long and his feet are three feet off the ground. The nearest wall is 20 feet away from the man. It is not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters. The man hanged himself.

Question: How did he do it?


Answer: He climbed on a block of ice which has since melted.
This one is often stated with the clue of a puddle of water, but this is too much assistance.

A Psychopath who died an unnatural death.

If you can answer this question, you are either a lateral thinker or a psychopath, or both.

A man was dead in a puddle of blood on the floor of an otherwise empty locked room. The coroner determined that excessive blood loss from the chest wound as the cause of death. There was no weapon found.
Since there was no sign of forced entry and the man was a known Psychopath, the coroner ruled the death a suicide.

Question: How did the Psycho kill himself?


Answer: The SOB stabbed himself with an icicle.

Lateral Thinking Puzzles

(1) The Man in the Elevator
A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator to go down to the ground floor to go to work or to go shopping. When he returns he takes the elevator to the seventh floor and walks up the stairs to reach his apartment on the tenth floor. He hates walking so why does he do it?
(2) Death in a Field
A man is lying dead in a field. Next to him there is an unopened package. There is no other creature in the field. How did he die?
(3) Heaven
A man died and went to Heaven. There were thousands of other people there. They were all naked and all looked as they did at the age of 21. He looked around to see if there was anyone he recognised. He saw a couple and he knew immediately that they were Adam and Eve. How did he know?
(4) A man and his wife raced through the streets. They stopped, and the husband got out of the car. When he came back, his wife was dead, and there was a stranger in the car.
(5) A woman has incontrovertible proof in court that her husband was murdered by her sister. The judge declares, "This is the strangest case I've ever seen. Though it's a cut-and-dried case, this woman cannot be punished."

(1) The man is a dwarf. Variants of this puzzle include the clue that on rainy days he goes up in the elevator to the tenth floor (he uses his umbrella!)
(2) The man had jumped from a plane but his parachute had failed to open. It is the unopened package.
This is sometimes given with the following rather elegant clue – as he approached the centre of the field he knew he was going to die.
(3) He recognized Adam and Eve as the only people without navels. Because they were not born of women, they had never had umbilical cords and therefore they never had navels.
(4) The wife was about to have a baby. They drove to the hospital. The husband left to get a wheelchair, but the baby was born in the meantime, and the wife didn't survive the birth.
(5) The sisters are Siamese twins.