“The most basic principle of lateral thinking
is that any particular way of looking
at things is only one from among
many other possible ways.”
Edward de Bono
Think outside the box.
Bring thinking into sharp focus.
Create new and practical ideas
by using provocative statements.
Constructively challenge your
organizations current thinking.
Harvest valuable ideas and tailor
them into usable, practical forms.
Build on the concept behind one
idea to create more ideas.
Develop individual creativity to
find alternative solutions.
Lateral Thinking Puzzles
by Paul Sloane
1. One day Kerry celebrated her birthday. Two days later her older twin brother, Terry, celebrated his birthday. How come?
2. Deep in the forest was found the body of a man who was wearing only swimming trunks, snorkel and face mask. The nearest lake was 8 miles away and the sea was 100 miles away. How had he died?
3. A blind beggar had a brother who died. What relation was the blind beggar to the brother who died? (Brother is not the answer!).
4. A man went to a party and drank some of the punch. He then left early. Everyone else at the party who drank the punch subsequently died of poisoning. Why did the man not die?
5. Several truck drivers at a roadside cafe started to play poker. The pot was large and the game was serious. Suddenly one of the men accused the dealer of cheating. The dealer drew a knife and, in plain view of all the others, stabbed the man and killed him. The police were called and they interviewed everyone who had been present. But no man was arrested or charged with any offense. Why not?
6. A man was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Both his parents were born in Boston, Massachusetts. He lived all his life in Boston but he was not a United States citizen. How come?
8. John and David were brothers. John married Jane. David married Diana. The strange thing was, John and Diana shared the same wedding anniversary.
David’s wedding anniversary was one month before this date and Jane’s was one month after it. None of them had ever been divorced or remarried.What was going on here?
9. A truck became wedged under a low bridge. It could not move forward or backward without severely damaging its roof. The truck driver was perplexed until the little girl standing nearby suggested an easy solution. What was it?
10. A man rode into town on Friday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Friday. How come?
11. A woman had two sons who were born on the same hour of the same day of the same year. But they were not twins. How could this be so?
12. When Archduke Ferdinand was shot, in 1914, his attendants could not undo his coat to stem his bleeding wound. Why not?
14. Anthony and Cleopatra are lying dead on the floor of a villa in Egypt. Nearby is broken glass. There is no mark on either of their bodies and they were not poisoned. How did they die?
15. A man lives on the tenth floor of a building. Every day, he takes the elevator to the first floor to go shopping. When he returns, he always takes the elevator to the seventh floor and walks the rest of the fight of stairs to his apartment in the tenth floor. Why does he do this?
16. One night during the Second World War, an allied bomber was on a mission over Germany. The plane was in perfect condition and everything on it worked properly. When it had reached its target, the pilot ordered the bomb doors open. They opened. He then ordered the bombs released. The were released. But the bombs did not fall from the plane. Why should this be so?
17. Five pieces of coal, a carrot, and a scarf are lying on the lawn. Nobody put them on the lawn, but there is a perfectly logical reason for them being there. What is it?
18. There were two Americans waiting at the entrance to the British Museum. One of them was the father of the other one’s son. How could this be so?
19. Not far from Madrid, there is a large wooden barn. The barn is completely empty except for a dead man hanging from the central rafter. The rope around his neck is ten feet long and his feet are three feet from the ground. The nearest wall is 20 feet away. It is not possible to climb up the walls or along rafters, yet he hanged himself. How did he manage it?
20. What happened in the second half of the 20th century and will not happen again for another 4000 years?
22. Many more children are involved as pedestrians in road accidents than might be expected from their numbers and road use. An expert on road accidents has put forward an ingenious theory to account for this. What do you think the theory might be?
23. Two drivers drove slowly and safely in the correct direction down a wide road before coming to a stop in front of a red stop light. A nearby police officer immediately arrested one of the drivers and let the other one driver off. The police officer had never seen or heard either driver before. Neither driver had a criminal record. They were both fully dressed and no one had been drinking. Both cars were in excellent roadworthy condition and had not been stolen. The arrested driver was charged and convicted. Of what?
24. A man locks his keys inside his car and is unable to get them out despite trying for an hour. A police officer comes along and offers to help. He discovers that the back door of the car is unlocked and he consequently recovers the keys. The man thanks him, but when the officer departs the man locks the back door, leaving the keys inside. Why?
25. A man wanted to construct an important building and he received tenders from a hundred builders, who each presented their qualifications and claimed to be the best builder around. How did he chose between them?
26. A very unlucky gambler had lost all his money . His friends organized a raffle, rigged so he would be sure to win. Knowing the ticket number he held, they filled a hat with tickets bearing the same number. The asked him to draw the winning number. “Well,” they asked him, “who won?” “Not me, anyway,” he replied sadly. What had happened?
27. 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?
28. A man pushed his car. He stopped when he reached a hotel at which point he knew he was bankrupt. Why?
29. One day a man received a parcel in the post. Carefully packed inside was a human arm. He examined it, repacked it and then sent it on to another man. The second man also carefully examined the arm before taking it to the woods and burying it. Why did they do this?
30. A man walks into a bar and asks the barman for a glass of water. The barman pulls out a gun and points it at the man. The man says ‘Thank you’ and walks out.
31. A man and his wife raced through the streets. They stopped and the husband got out of the car. When he returned, his wife was dead and there was a stranger in the car. What happened?
32. A woman hears her name and is then taken away by two men. Later, the woman dies while under the care of many. What happened to this poor woman?
33. The man finds himself commuting to work in his car every day. Upon arrival to work each morning, he proceeds to drive his car in a circle four times before finally parking it and entering his office building. Why does the man drive in circles every day?
34. A family has a chicken coop containing one dozen egg producing hens. One night, a terrible storm came and killed all but eight chickens. How many chickens did the family have in the morning?
35. A boy and his father get into a serious car crash. The father dies instantly, while the son is rushed to hospital for emergency surgery. When they get to the operating theatre, one of the surgeons lets out a cry of shock. “That’s my son!” How is this possible?
36. A police officer saw a truck driver clearly going the wrong way down a one-way street, but did not try to stop him. Why not?
38. Three men enter a room, but only two walk out. The room is empty. Where is the third man?
39. There are six eggs in the basket. Six people take each one of the eggs. How can it be that one egg is left in the basket?
40. A murderer is condemned to death. He must choose between three rooms after his sentence is passed. The first is full of raging fire. The second is full of assassins with their guns loaded. The third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in six months. Which room should he choose?
41. There is a certain crime, that if it is attempted, is punishable, but if it is committed, is not punishable. What is the crime?
42. A man fell off a smuggling boat into deep water. He could not swim and he was not wearing anything to keep him afloat. It took 30 minutes for the people on the boat to realize someone was missing. The missing man was rescued two hours later on the return trip. Why didn’t he drown?
43. On my way to London I saw a man with 7 wives. Each wife had 7 sacks. Each sack had 7 cats. Each cat had 7 kittens. Kitten, cats, sacks, wives. How many were going to London?
44. A window cleaner is cleaning windows on the 50th story of a building. He has no safety equipment. Suddenly, he trips and falls. There is nothing on the ground to soften the blow, and yet he isn’t seriously hurt. How can this be?
45. Acting on an anonymous phone call, the police raid a house to arrest a suspected murderer. They don’t know what he looks like but they know his name is John and that he is inside the house. The police bust in on a carpenter, a truck driver, a mechanic and a fireman all playing poker. Without hesitation or communication of any kind, they immediately arrest the fireman. How do they know they’ve got their man?
47. A woman who lives in New York legally married three men, she did not get a divorce, get an enrollment or legally separate. How is this possible?