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Quick Quiz: Lateral Thinking September 22, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in People, Word Play.

Wikipedia ~ Split Rock Lighthouse (in Public Domain)

Souldipper sent me this short quiz on Lateral Thinking (also referred to as thinking outside the box) last night.

The quiz is based on the work of Edward de Bono, a physician, author, inventor, and consultant who is the originator of the term Lateral Thinking.

de Bono wrote a best selling book (Six Thinking Hats) and is a proponent of the deliberate teaching of thinking as a subject in schools.

Good thinking, Edward!

Thanks, Amy!

Ready to test your Lateral Thinking ability?

On your mark, get set, THINK!

Question 1

There are 6 eggs in a basket.  Six people each take one egg.   How can it be that one egg is left in the basket?

 Question 2

 Acting on an anonymous phone call, police raid a house to arrest a suspected murderer.  They don’t know what he looks like, but they know his name is John.  Inside, they find a carpenter, a bus driver, a fireman, and a mechanic playing cards.  Without asking his name, they arrest the fireman.  How do they know they’ve got their man?

Question 3

There are six glasses on the table.  Three are filled with orange juice, and three are empty:


By moving only one glass, can you rearrange them so that EMPTY and FULL glasses alternate?

Question 4

There once was a recluse who never left his home.  No one visited except to deliver food and supplies, and they never came inside.  One stormy winter  night, when an icy gale was blowing, the recluse had a nervous breakdown.  He went upstairs, turned out all the lights, and went to bed.  His actions caused the death of three dozen people.  How?

ANSWERS:  Lateral Thinking:  Answers


1. Richard W Scott - September 22, 2010

Nancy, I think I’ve got the answers to all four, but I emailed ’em to you rather than spoil it for the others.

One of my favorite de Bono quotes is one I cannot relate accurately, because I can’t find it… worse, his organization didn’t know it, either. Man, how prolific can you be if a stellar quote is burried by a ton of others?

While I can’t quote it, here is the gist of it:

“I have grown fond of being proved wrong. When someone convinces me of my error, I must toss out bad ideas for new ones. Better, the person I learned it from has probably taken the idea as far as he can. But for me, it is new ground, a new place to think.”

Pardon the paraphrase, but I love that.

nrhatch - September 22, 2010

Excellent paraphrase. Love it!

I answered #2 and #3 “correctly” (in line with the proposed solution) last night at midnight.

Missed #4, but expect I might have gotten it in the light of day.

Amy and I both came up with an alternative solution to #1.

2. cindy - September 22, 2010

1. One guy changed his mind and put his back, deciding he’d rather have plain toast.
2. He wore a name badge.
3. Ack.
4. He was the electricity supply controller for the city?

nrhatch - September 22, 2010

Excellent! Better than the proposed solutions.

3. Agatha82 - September 22, 2010

my brain hurts 😉
Looking forward to the answers 🙂

nrhatch - September 22, 2010

That’s because you’re editing your MS at such a rapid rate.

We’ll excuse you from this quiz under the circumstances.

4. humm - September 22, 2010

1. Last person take basket along with egG
2. He wore a name badgE (same as cindy)
3. Transfer juice from 2nd glass to 5tH
4. do’NT knOW

nrhatch - September 22, 2010

Nice thinking, humm! Good answers all.

I’ll wait to address #4 tomorrow.

5. souldipper - September 22, 2010

Nancy, if I remember all the prescribed answers, do I get $3,000 for a good memory?

nrhatch - September 22, 2010

Sure. If you can find someone who has that kind of money sitting around. 8)

Thanks for sharing this with me last night.

6. Paula - September 23, 2010

OK! First and last I came up with answers immediately. #1: – the last person just left his choice in the basket and took the whole thing. #4: He was a lighthouse keeper! Took me the last few minutes of cogitating to come up with the other two. Here are my ideas: #3: Pour second into fifth. #2: – Since men (and/or women) in those professions/trades generally wear either a name tag or have their names stitched on their shirt pockets, I can assume John was arrested because his name was on his shirt.

I haven’t checked out the answers yet – or read anybody else’s. How close am I? I spent a total of 16 minutes on the answers (not including typing time!). What’s the average time it takes to arrive at acceptable responses? I felt a bit slow – especially on #3. I made the mistake of forgetting that once you empty a full glass, it joins the “empty” ranks. . .duh!

Lateral thinking has never really been that much of a problem for me, BUT – keeping things straight (i.e. “linear,”) in my mind has often been my downfall! There are definite advantages to both types of mind-sets.

nrhatch - September 23, 2010

Exactly the opposite from me. I got #2 and #3 immediately.

My alternate solutions for #1 ~ one person took an egg from another person, instead of from the basket (also what Amy came up with) OR someone’s math was off and there were really 7 eggs in the basket. 🙂

I didn’t get #4. In every lighthouse I’ve been in, the keeper’s cottage (or bedroom) was not upstairs in the lighthouse.

Average time? I couldn’t say.

I only spent a couple of minutes on the quiz because it was already past my bedtime when Amy sent it to me . . . and the answers were right at the bottom so I could peak and then hit the hay. 😉

7. Paula - September 23, 2010

As far as lighthouses go: No matter where the keeper’s room is located in the house, doesn’t the quiz say he “went UPSTAIRS” and turned out “ALL the lights?”

I personally prefer the quizzes with the answers printed at the bottom, too!

Now I’ll go and read the answers!

nrhatch - September 23, 2010

But I couldn’t picture someone in the midst of a nervous breakdown going UPSTAIRS to turn out all the lights, then going back DOWNSTAIRS to go to bed.

At least not at midnight (my time, not his). 8)

8. booksphotographsandartwork - September 24, 2010

Oh I have never been good at these. They drive me crazy. I do now want to read the DeBono book that I have had sitting forever.

nrhatch - September 24, 2010

Let us know how you like it.

9. Maggie - September 30, 2010

Cool post. Tests like this are what should be given in school – not all that multiple choice uselessness.

nrhatch - September 30, 2010

I agree.

In kindergarten, instead of rushing to cram rote memorization . . . teach kids to LOVE learning and school
In grade school, teach kids to get along and play well with one another . . . embracing diversity
In middle school, teach kids about thinking for themselves . . . and standing up to peer pressure

What we need is more people making CONSCIOUS choices about HOW to live, instead of just playing follow the leader.

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