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Put On Your Thinking Cap [updated with answers]

These are called Lateral Thinking Puzzles. Basically, you get a scenario and you have to explain how that scenario has come to be. Some of the are easy, some not, and some you may have heard many times before. If you get all of these, I have harder questions waiting in the wings.

You may ask me yes or no questions in the comments, I just can't promise immediate answers, as I'm here and there for the rest of the day.

Take your best guesses without Googling. Answers later.


Update and answer key below.

1 In the middle of the ocean is a yacht. Several corpses are floating in the water nearby.
2 A man is lying dead in a room. There is a large pile of gold and jewels on the floor, a chandelier attached to the ceiling, and a large open window.
3 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.
4 A body is discovered in a park in Chicago in the middle of summer. It has a fractured skull and many other broken bones, but the cause of death was hypothermia.
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."
6 A man walks into a bar and asks for a drink. The bartender pulls out a gun and points it at him. The man says, "Thank you," and walks out.
7 A hunter aimed his gun carefully and fired. Seconds later, he realized his mistake. Minutes later, he was dead.
8 A man goes into a restaurant, orders albatross, eats one bite, and kills himself.
9 A man is found hanging in an otherwise empty locked room with a puddle of water under his feet.
10 A man is driving his car. He turns on the radio, listens for five minutes, turns around, goes home, and shoots his wife.
11 The music stops, and a woman dies.
12 A man is dead in a room with a small pile of wood chips and sawdust in the corner.
13 There's a flash of light, and a man dies.
14 A rope breaks. A bell rings. A man dies.
15 A man is lying drowned in a dead forest.
16 A woman buys a new pair of shoes, goes to work, and dies.
17 Two men enter a bar. They are served identical drinks. One lives; the other dies.
18 Hans and Fritz are German spies during World War II. They try to enter America, posing as returning tourists. Hans is immediately arrested.
19 Tim and Greg were talking. Tim said, "The terror of flight." Greg said, "The gloom of the grave." Greg was arrested.
20 A man dies of thirst in his own home.
21 A man gets onto an elevator. When the elevator stops, he knows his wife is dead.
22 An avid birdwatcher sees an unexpected bird. Soon, they're both dead.
23 An ordinary American citizen, with no passport, visits over thirty foreign countries in one day. He is welcomed in each country and leaves each one of his own accord.
24 A man wakes up one night to get some water. He turns off the light and goes back to bed. The next morning he looks out the window, screams, and kills himself.
25 She grabbed his ring, pulled on it, and dropped it, thereby saving his life.
26 A man sitting on a park bench reads a newspaper article headlined "Death at Sea" and knows a murder has been committed.
27 A man drives down the highway at 55 miles per hour. He passes three cars going 60 miles per hour, then gets pulled over by a police officer and is given a ticket.
28 A man tries the new cologne his wife gave him for his birthday. He goes out to get some food and is killed.
29 A man is doing his job when his suit tears. Ten seconds later, he's dead.
30 A married couple goes to a movie. During the movie the husband strangles the wife. He is able to get her body home without attracting attention.
31 A man ran into a fire and lived. A man stayed where there was no fire and died.
32 A woman tells her children to do something, but just one boy obeys. The woman says something to him, and he stomps away, sits down, and sulks.

Update: I can't keep up with you people, especially when I have to be in a million places at one time today.

So the answers are here. Note some have alternate solutions. Also note that I did not use all the questions, so the numbers are off.

Most of you are definitely lateral thinkers. I'm pretty sure that's a good thing. But I wonder what a vertical thinker would think.

And I know some of the answers are stupid. The point is to just get you thinking.

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Fascinating stuff going on over at Michele's. Lateral thinking puzzles? You got me. But if you love brain-teaser creative stuff, you definitely want to go over there and check it out. Join in the comments, too - I love the... [Read More]

Comments

my head already hurts.

8 A man goes into a restaurant, orders albatross, eats one bite, and kills himself.

I like that one! Though it's not horribly plausible. =] I mean, so what if he's a cannibal?

Dang, Michele ...don't you know i have things to do?

Well, not really. But, I'm with Mikey. My head hurts and it's MONDAY. I had a hard enough time doing "school" with my kids.

11 The music stops, and a woman dies.

The firing squad stilled their drums.

Spdr, No. But good guess.

Most of these could have any number of answers. Are we supposed to explain what could have happened, or do we have to hit the answer you're looking for?

25 She grabbed his ring, pulled on it, and dropped it, thereby saving his life.

He was sky diving and she opened his chute.

29 A man is doing his job when his suit tears. Ten seconds later, he's dead.

Deep sea diving can be dangerous.

1: Drug dealers capture yacht, kill crew & passengers OR yachties go scuba diving with bad air OR yachties go swimming in nest of those nasty Man'O'Wars, none can get back aboard to wash off and save the others.

2: You're in "The Speckled Band".

3: You're in a Nick Cage movie.

4: Victim fell from wheelwell of aircraft, probably self-smuggled from over seas.

...

23. American is visiting embassies.

#4 and #15 are both urban legends and were featured in Hill Street Blues and CSI respectively (If I remember correctly in the latter case they were aware that it was an "impossible to occur" urban legend)

9. Cube of ice melted as the man commits suicide

10. Man was listening to Dr. Laura (or other such show, which on any prinicple is reason enough to shoot oneselef). He hears his wife talk about the affair she is having...

15. Urban legend; see scuba diver in forest fire.

27. He's driving the wrong way.

28. He is wear Eau de Feline, and is mauled by dogs.

22 An avid birdwatcher sees an unexpected bird. Soon, they're both dead.

Was this avid birdwatcher travelling at high velocity when he saw the unexpected bird?

26 A man sitting on a park bench reads a newspaper article headlined "Death at Sea" and knows a murder has been committed.

Did the reader attempt murder at sea, but wasn't sure until now that he'd been successful?

27 A man drives down the highway at 55 miles per hour. He passes three cars going 60 miles per hour, then gets pulled over by a police officer and is given a ticket.

They were all going the other way.

25 She grabbed his ring, pulled on it, and dropped it, thereby saving his life.
He was sky diving and she opened his chute.

Correct.

Bq. 29 A man is doing his job when his suit tears. Ten seconds later, he's dead.
Deep sea diving can be dangerous.

The answer they gave was astronaut, but yours is just as good.

1: Drug dealers capture yacht, kill crew & passengers OR yachties go scuba diving with bad air OR yachties go swimming in nest of those nasty Man'O'Wars, none can get back aboard to wash off and save the others.
2: You're in "The Speckled Band".
3: You're in a Nick Cage movie.

Ahhh..no

23. American is visiting embassies.

Be more specific.

More later. Carpooling beckons.

#11 - the woman is a tightrope walker, married to the band leader, who knows she is having an affair. During the performance, the band leader stops the music abruptly, ruining the tightrope walker's concentration, and causing her to plummet to her death.

(My simpler answer to this one is that she is in the tub listening to the radio, and accidently knocks it in)

1: Students from the University of Texas Medical Branch are dumping spare corpses found behind the Galveston county coroner's office.

2: Aide to Yasser Arafat, attempting to smuggle his wealth out of Gaza, is targeted by a Zionist drone.

4: Hot air balloonist went too high, died of exposure, crashed in Chicago.

7: Novice hunter shoots into a herd of wild javelina. He wounds one, and the rest turn on him before he can climb a tree.

8. Is the man allergic to albatross?
21 is the wife at the bottom of the elevator shaft?
31 first is a firefighter, second man dies of smoke inhilation?

#17 - One sips, the other gulps. The poison was in the ice.

#3 - she died in childbirth?

#8 - I know this one is ridiculously complicated. Something like, he was in s shipwreck years earlier and his wife/companion died. He was told that his dinner was albatross, but when he tastes it in the restaurant he knows he's never had it before.

#9 - the man stood on a block of ice to hang himself.

#23 - logic tells me that the man is a soldier or the president, but that doesn't explain thirty countries in one day.

Several others have my brain whirring...

#32 - Apparently, she didn't say "Simon Says"

"Embassy Row", in Washington, D.C., has many embassies. Each is (for legal purposes) foreign soil. Stepping onto their grounds is stepping onto that country's soil. I don't remember the names of them. [googles] map: http://www.embassy.org/embassy_row/mass.html

and another one...

#5 - The woman and her sister are conjoined twins.

#24 - the man is a lighthouse keeper, and switched off the main light. He awoke the next morning to a boat wreck.

OK, last one for awhile

#30 - they were at a drive-in

27: His spedometer is broken.

These do nothing to help my sinus infection caused headache.

#5: They're conjoined twins and surgery to separate them is not possible.

#7: He accidentally shot his best friend, then realized what had happened and shot himself.

I'm not sure I quite get the premise. There are a lot of possibilities I can come up with, but not necessarily the ones you're looking for, I think:

For example:
26 A man sitting on a park bench reads a newspaper article headlined "Death at Sea" and knows a murder has been committed.

My answer: The newspaper covered the chest of a corpse, and was attached to said corpse by means of a very long dagger that pierced the corpse's heart.

Starting from the top:
1. The corpses were on the boat, went swimming, and forgot to put down a ladder so they could get back in. I've also heard the solution as they put down a ladder, but the displacement of their weight caused the boat to rise just enough that they couldn't reach it. Also, you didn't specify that they were human corpses.

2. The chandelier, room and jewels are all on a sunken ship. The man is a diver who (a) ran out of air or (b) impaled himself on something pointy.

3. As someone already mentioned, the man and his wife were on the way to the maternity ward. He got out at the hospital, and by the time he got back, she had delivered, dying during childbirth.

4. Illegal immigrant freezes at high altitude, falls from plane.

5. Sisters are siamese/conjoined twins.

6. Man has the hiccups, so he asks for water. Bartender scares him with gun, thus curing hiccups.

5 - murder/suicide, the sister is already dead?

27 - the three cars, also speeding, are going the other way (i.e. not in the cop's radar)?

Those were so stupid it was painful reading them. I think I saw 1 or 2 that didn't have completely asinine answers. There are probably close to 50,000,000,000 answers for each of those. Except for the albatross one - that's just f*cked up.

Ya know, I can't but help notice that a lot of these lateral puzzles are morbid. Lotta peeps are dying.

Quoth: #11 - the woman is a tightrope walker, married to the band leader, who knows she is having an affair. During the performance, the band leader stops the music abruptly, ruining the tightrope walker's concentration, and causing her to plummet to her death.

I heard it as a trapeze artist; without the drumbeat she loses her timing and misses being caught on the correct count.

1. Someone shot the other people on the yacht and threw them overboard.

2. The owner of the riches activated the automatic chandelier dropping and rotating lever and hit the burglar on the head.

3. They were in an ambulance.

4. Someone fell out of a plane into a snowbank. They survived the fall but couldn't move and succumbed to hypothermia. It was in the shade so the snow didn't melt for a while.

5. She had married her sister, who then engaged in a female-to-male trangender operation.

6. The pointee had previously told the barkeep he'd pay him $10 if he pointed a gun at him any time he asked for a drink.

7. He was shooting into a very deep well that was full of flubber.

#17- One of the men is the Dred Pirate Roberts.

13: The phaser was set to kill.

20: He was locked in a closet.

28: A safe falls on him as he walks to the diner. But he's a nice smelling corpse.

I haven't looked at the answers yet, so wild guesses:

4. Someone got trapped in the underbelly of a plane and froze to death, then fell out when the plane lowered its wheels over a city as it prepared to land.

12. Umm... Pinochhio killed himself?

16. The woman has a job at a great height - construction worker or tightrope walker - and her new shoes slipped.

19. Ha! Heard this one from Isaac Asimov's "The Union Club Mysteries". Tim, an American agent, is playing a game with Greg, whom he suspects to be a foreign agent. The game is just a word-association: Tim says "grass", Greg says "green" and so on. "Terror of flight" and "gloom of the grave" are both from the third stanza of the American national anthem. Enemy agents are so thoroughly trained that they know the third stanza, but of course no true American knows it, and most don't know there's more than one.

11 and 21. The electricity turns off.

22. The birdwatcher is on a plane, and he sees a flightless bird. The plane then crashes.

30. The woman is Tara Reid, the movie was "Alone in the Dark", and the crowd hates the movie so much that they welcome her death. ...Okay, either that or it's a drive-in movie and he just drives away.

Hey, how about this one: A woman meets a handsome man at her mother's funeral. She has never met the man before. A week later, she kills her sister. Why?

1. Someone shot the other people on the yacht and threw them overboard.

That's better than the "correct" answers. Why? Because drowned bodies SINK.