Lateral Thinking Puzzles

1. There is a man who lives on the top floor of a very tall building. Every day he takes the elevator down to the ground floor to leave the building to go to work. Upon returning from work though, he can only travel half way up in the lift and has to walk the rest of the way unless it's raining! Why?

2. A man and his son are in a car accident. The father dies on the scene, but the child is rushed to the hospital. When he arrives the surgeon says "I can't operate on this boy, he is my son!" How can this be?

3. A man is wearing black. Black shoes, socks, trousers, jumper, gloves and balaclava. He is walking down a black street with all the street lamps off. A black car is coming towards him with its lights off too but somehow manages to stop in time. How did the driver see the man?

4. One day Kerry celebrated her birthday. Two days later her younger twin brother, Terry, celebrated his birthday. Why?

5. Why is it better to have round manhole covers than square ones? This is logical rather than lateral, but it is a good puzzle which can be solved by lateral thinking techniques. It is supposedly used by a very well-known software company as an interview question for prospective employees.

6. 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?

7. A man died and went to Heaven. There were thousands of other people there. They were all naked and all looked as if they had died at the age of 21. He looked around to see if there was anyone he recognized. He saw a couple and he knew immediately that they were Adam and Eve. How did he know?

8. 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?

9. 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.

10. My favourite logical puzzle is:

Two men come to a river. There is a boat that can carry only one man at a time. They cross. Explain.

11. One cup is half full of tea, the other half full of coffee. You take a spoon from the tea cup and place it in the coffee cup. Then you take a spoon from the coffee cup and put it into the tea cup. Is there more tea in the coffee or coffee in the tea?

12. You are in a room where there are four switches. Each is attached to a light bulb in another, unseen room. Your task is to work out which switch operates which of the four bulbs. You can play with the switches as much as you like, but after doing so you can go only once into the room with the bulbs.

13. In a dark room there are two black hats and three white hats. Three men walk in, select a hat each (by touch) and walk out single file into a well-lit corridor. Each is unable see the hat they themselves are wearing (let's say the underside of each hat is gray in all cases) but can see the hat(s) of the persons in front (if any).

The third person to walk out (ie he sees 2 people ahead of him) speaks first: "I don't know what colour hat I am wearing". The second person in line then says: "I dunno either." Then the first person announces: "I know what colour hat I am wearing."

Question: What colour hat is the 1st person wearing?

PS This is not a lateral thinking type of problem but a straight, logic-only sort of puzzle.

14. What is greater than God, more evil than the Devil, the poor have it, the rich lack it, and if you eat it you will die?

It is claimed that 80% of preschoolers quizzed knew the answer but that only 17% of Stanford University students did.

15. "Brothers and sisters have I none, but that man's father is my father's son." What is the relationship of the speaker to "that man"?

16. There are two gates, one leads to Heaven and is guarded by an angel, the other to Hell and is guarded by a devil. Angels and devils look alike, but the angel always tells the truth while the devil always lies. How can you tell which gate is which by asking just one question of only one gate-keeper?

17. Three men went to a motel. The man behind the desk said the room is $30, so each man put up $10 and went to the room. A little while later the manager realized the room was only $25, so he sent the bellhop back to the three guys' room with $5. On the way to the room the bellhop couldn't figure out how to split the $5 between the three guys, so he just gave each one of them $1 and he kept the other $2. That left the three guys paying $9 each for the room.

Now 3 x 9 = 27 + the 2 that the bellhop kept = $29. Where's the other dollar?

18. An advanced fighter bomber is about to drop its bombs over the enemy. The pilot presses the button to release the bombs but nothing happens. Why is this so?

19. Which four-letter English word reads the same backwards, forwards and upside-down?

20. A sergeant with a major in mathematics asked his ten men to line up in five rows of four men each? How?

21. A man holding a bucket of water tips it upside-down. No water spills out. Can you think of 6 ways to explain this?


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