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  • I have to be reading the question wrong, but the St. Ives Puzzle makes no sense as writen, absolutely nothing (unless there is some historical thing about St. Ives getting in the way) prevents two people from meeting while traveling to the same destination (I actually think we have that one here listed on this very site).
    • I have seen it phrased "came across" or "crossed paths", both of which hint that they are traveling in the opposite direction. See, however, the description of how you can find solutions that fit the facts and yet are invalid.
      • Regardless, shouldn't the answer be "zero" anyway? Unless the speaker is a wife, of course.
        • From the imdb quote page for Die Hard: With a Vengeance: "As I was going to St. Ives, / I met a man with seven wives. / Every wife had seven sacks, / Every sack had seven cats, / Every cat had seven kittens. / Kittens, cats, sacks, wives, / How many were going to St. Ives?" - only the speaker goes to St Ives. That's why the answer is 1 (male or female doesn't matter in this wording)
          • Or, the wording could be interpreted as "how many total of the things I just listed are going to St. Ives?" I've insisted since childhood that the answer is 0 unless a married woman asks (or, I suppose, a very intelligent cat, but...).
          • I just read that, and interpreted it as "I met the man, and I know he has seven wives, who have seven sacks, etc..." So, it's still just one.
          • Don't forget, you are going to St. Ives. It doesn't matter how many people are going away from there, because exactly one person, you, is going towards there.
  • If you're not going to accept "one ten-cent coin and one twenty-cent coin" as an answer to the two-coin problem, you should have specified US currency.
    • Nickels, as far as I know, are only coin names in US and Canada, neither of which has 20 cent coins. What currency where you thinking that has nickels, 10s and 20s?
    • Well, if the coins are from a country that has 10s and 20s but no nickels, it's still true to say that neither of the coins is a nickel. But that would seem to violate the spirit of the riddle, if not the letter.
    • There are variants of this puzzle in other countries. I've heard 'I have two coins that add up to 55c, and one is not a 50 cent coin' in Australia.
    • There is a ten cent and twenty cent coin in Australia. Also, I heard the above question before, my reponse was "I'd go to another country and learn their currency cause there damn ain't any two coins that could make fifty-five cents here".
    • Also, according to The Other Wiki, the United States did mint 20-cent coins in the 1870s. It didn't last very long (only a few years), but it was still a valid unit of currency. Here's a link.
  • How many people are driving the bus? What the hell kinda stupid question is that?!
    • Only One is driving the bus and What the hell is neither a question nor stupid. XP
      • "Neither a question nor stupid". If you're going to be a smart-alec, use proper grammar.
        • I will.
  • With a lot of these puzzles, you're not so much being tested on lateral thinking as you are on paying attention to Exact Words. The problem being that it's hard to design a question reliant on exact wording that someone can't find a way around and that works equally well everywhere. The questions are often "stupid" because they're aimed at children, or because they work a lot better in spoken language where you can't just glance at the page and reread the question at will.
    • Further, they can be wrong. "One of them isn't a nickel" is, in fact, a perfectly valid way of saying "neither of them is a nickel" given the way English is used in everyday conversation. So it's a puzzle that only works if you change how the language works for the puzzle, or arbitrarily disallow certain answers. Same with the "words ending in -gry" one.
      • That's the entire point of these puzzles. They're testing you on how you can stretch language in order to get the right answer. If you just stick to "the way English is used in everyday conversation", then you're not actually thinking about the words. Also, they're not really "chang[ing] how the language works for the puzzle", they're changing HOW you perceive the words. Namely, that you're probably not taking them literally enough. They're not grammatically incorrect or changing the meaning of words, they're using words in a way which you as the receiver of the puzzle are not supposed to expect. If it was told to you in words which were straightforward and perfectly clear, there'd be no reason for the puzzle!
  • Am I the only one who notices that a lot of these puzzles have flat-out ridiculous answers that are completely disconnected with reality? Like this one:
    • Q: 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?
    • A: If you said he was abducted by aliens and died during their experiments you'd be pretty close. If you said he was killed on the beach and dragged into the forest, you'd be much more realistic. But no, the answer is that During a forest fire, a fire-fighting plane had scooped up some water from the lake to drop on the fire. The plane had accidentally picked up the unfortunate swimmer. HOW THE HELL ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO FIGURE THAT OUT??? I mean seriously these questions have some of the most Cloudcuckoolandish answers. This (hillarious) article gives a great breakdown. Dwarf on ice in lateral lift horror
    • This troper hasn't ever seen that story as a puzzle, per se, but he has read it on an Urban Legend website.
      • I know I saw it on Magnolia. Anyway, these sorts of puzzle are... definitely not puzzles. A puzzle should give you all the clues and ask for an answer. These ones, in contrast, give you a detached occurence and ask you to figure an outlandish explanation that can only be eached if you think backwards(i.e., from solution to problem; which means the puzzle maker probably thinks of the solution first, and then comes up with the outcome, which is the puzzle... and makes no sense). At least the one presented lower in the page(the one with the block of ice) has enough clues to figure it out(granted, I didn't... a three feet block of ice? What the heck?!), many of those presented on the Moon Logic Puzzle page are just... crazy!
    • That's why I hate these. When I was a kid I had a book of them, and most of them were the typical "she was a goldfish"/"he was standing on a block of ice"/"it's a polar bear" ones that you hear over and over again; and then out of nowhere there was this one about a girl who runs out of a date, and you're supposed to figure out why. Answer: The guy had passed in front of a mirror, and she'd noticed that he had no reflection, concluded that he was a vampire, and fled in terror. I wish I were kidding. Not only had no mirror even been mentioned, but for fuck's sake, if we're going to veer off into the realms of the supernatural, can a girl get a heads-up? I wish I could find that book so I could punch whoever wrote it.
      • I agree. For some reason, two different kinds of questions get included into so-called "lateral thinking puzzles". The first rely on the exact wording or may have a genuinely clever solution or such, but even when they are assholish they generally make sense. But then there is the kind where you are asked a question and supposed to come up with elaborate, complicated, unrealistic explanations like the above. Basically, the questioner is giving you a prompt to compose a short story, and if you don't come up with the exact same story s/he has in mind, you fail the riddle. That's just unspeakably retarded.
    • There's a very good reason for these absurd situations. Lateral thinking puzzles aren't made for books where you, alone, try to puzzle out the answer based on the description. The way to solve a lateral thinking puzzle is for one person to know the puzzle and for another person (or a group) to keep guessing and asking questions. One book I read even called the puzzles "Team Games" to emphasize that solving them alone from a book is pointless.
      • Um... well, someone should tell that to every other place where they publish lateral thinking puzzles without any sort of warning like that. The way I usually see them, it's like Chris Maslanka said: it's not a puzzle to be solved, it's to be shoved on someone else's face, because you know the answer and they'll never know it by themselves. Hah! Seriously, though, several of them are solvable alone... the one about the lighthouse keeper, or the one about the guy who goes down on elevator and climbs up the stairs. The problem with many others is that the puzzle itself is orribly short and do not propose any clues(which leads to the Team Games approach, in which the clues are given by one participant, but could just as well be given by the damned book!)
        • Most of the fun from these puzzles (when they are well executed) comes from guessing the right questions to ask in order to guess the solution. You can't put the hints in the book because there is no way to give them without spoiling the solution.
  • I don't understand this puzzle:
    • Q: "Not far from Madrid, there is a large wooden barn. The barn 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. There is a puddle of water nearby. It is not possible to climb up the walls or along the rafters. The man hanged himself. How did he do it?"
    • A: The answer is supposedly He hung himself from a block of ice, which has since melted. But this is flat-out ridiculous and contrived. It would make much more sense if he just hung himself while standing on a cow or horse, which has since walked away. The puddle is from his bowels releasing after he died.
    • Also, like most of these puzzles, you have to wonder why go through so much trouble just to mystify people, like trolling from beyond the grave.
    • Actually, the first answer is what came to my mind first as well while the 'more sensible' second one arguably fails if we take the clues literally because they specifically mention a puddle of water -- not any other liquid like, say, urine. So the puzzle appears to work as intended for at least some readers.
      • I don't know, this solution never made sense to me just because I would look at it from the guy's point of view. I mean, a block of ice that big would take quite some time to melt, and standing there for two hours, slowly sinking, the rope slowly constricting around you doesn't seem like too pleasant a way to die, and if the guy was motivated enough to die that he didn't get off and walk away once the noose started getting a little tight, why not choose a better way? The second solution makes far more sense to me; it's much quicker and cleaner. Besides, there's still the obvious problem: WHERE THE HELL DID HE GET A BLOCK OF ICE THAT BIG.
        • He could've jumped off the block of ice before if melted rather than waiting for it to melt under his feet.
          • Okay, but if that's the case, why go through the trouble of getting a giant block of ice to jump off of? Why not just use a stool (or a cow)?
            • Because his family doesn't get the insurance money unless it's made to NOT look like a suicide. The Melting Ice Hanged Man makes it look like somebody tried (poorly) to Make It Look Like A Suicide; ergo, it was not. Also, the reason I heard never says that the room was a barn, so moving cows were never really an option in my mind.
    • What bugs me about this one is the convenient ten-foot rope that just happens to be hanging from the middle of the rafter. Evidently the man didn't set that up, because it's impossible for him to climb up there, so what on earth was that rope doing there in the first place? Also, why not just bring in a crate or something to jump from instead of going to the effort of finding a three-foot-tall block of ice?? Or are we supposed to believe the ice was just conveniently there as well?
  • One problem that always Bugged Me was this one:
    • Q: The music stopped and he died.
    • A: A blind man is a tightrope walker in a circus. He walks and turns based on what music is playing at the moment. That is, as long as he follows the pattern he knows where on the rope he is and which direction he's facing. If the stereo breaks and the music stops prematurely, we're supposed to believe that he'll assume that his act is complete and can step off onto the platform; only to fall to his death. Total nonsense. A blind man should know how long the music is and exactly how it ends.
      • Also, he should know the rope itself after all the time he's being doing it (long enough for him to know the music pattern). My theory: a man is playing jazz in a nightclub full of gangsters. They like his music so much they don't want him to stop playing. When he finally collapses out of exhaustion, they take offense and kill him.
      • I think I saw that movie.
        • Oddly enough, I didn't.
      • Or the sudden cutoff in music shook the man up enough that he lost his balance/coordination/equilibrium. Either way, no safety net? Somebody's gonna get sued.
  • The "If a rooster lays an egg on the exact peak of a barn, then where does it fall?" one always bugged me. From a strictly logical point of view, it doesn't matter whether or not a rooster lays an egg, only if it did. For example, if the moon is made of cheese, then it probably tastes very dusty, what with all the space crud landing on it. Or, for a more reasonable point of view, if x is zero, then x + y = y. x might not be zero, but we can still make conclusions based on the assumption that x is zero. Similarly, roosters don't lay eggs, but if they did, then we could answer the problem. (Well, actually, we couldn't as there isn't enough information, but the point still stands.)
    • To better elaborate on the previous poster's entry: the rooster question sounds like a conditional sentence, i.e. "If A, then B". The truth value of the sentence depends on the truth value of both A and B: if A is false, the entire conditional sentence is true regardless of whether or not B describes a true or false claim. To give an example: "If milk is blue, the sky is green." The first statement describes a hypothetical alternate universe where milk isn't white, but rather blue. In such a case, we cannot rely on our own factual understanding of the world; the sky could be green or it could be blue; its whatever the sentence writer decides. But the original poster is missing the idea: its a trick question and is not meant to have a logical answer just like all the other examples.
    • OP has a good point. I heard the intro of this one as "a rooster lays an egg...", i.e. without the if. I suppose that solves that problem.
    • With the wording, it makes sense to me that the answer is "roosters don't lay eggs". It only sounds like an alternate-universe-type question if the first clause is "if roosters laid eggs" or "if a rooster could lay an egg". If you just say "if a rooster lays an egg", it just sounds like you're describing something impossible in this world and trying to pass it off as normal when it isn't. It's very subtle, but it makes a huge difference, which is why I think a lot of people complain about it.
  • I know saying "these puzzles make no sense" is a pretty stock complaint, but hear this one. The "question":

  Tim and Greg were talking. Tim said, "The terror of flight." Greg said, "The gloom of the grave." Greg was arrested.

And the expected answer:

  Greg is a German spy during World War II. Tim, an American, is suspicious of him, so he plays a word-association game with him. When Tim says, "The land of the free," Greg says, "The home of the brave." When Tim says, "The terror of flight," Greg says, "The gloom of the grave." Any U.S. citizen would know the first verse of the national anthem, but only a spy would have memorized the third.

If you highlight the spoiler, you know what the problem is. So how is that the "best" answer for this puzzle?
  • Okay, sorry for the short interval between two similar points but... here's another from the same source:

  A car without a driver moves; a man dies.

The expected answer:

  The murderer sets the car on a slope above the hot dog stand where the victim works. He wedges an ice block in the car to keep the brake pedal down, puts the car in neutral, and flies to another city to avoid suspicion. It's a warm day; when the ice melts, the car rolls down the hill and kills the hot dog man.

And my guess:

  A man stops his car to fix it, but while he's under it the handbrakes fail. The car moves over him.

Now read both answers and tell me: which one makes more sense? Especially considering Occam's Razor and the fact that the original question does not mention anything that could lead to a block of ice or hot dogs.
    • To respond to those, multiple other questions and mention the "bear" puzzle on the main page, I'm reminded of Raymond Smullyan's comment that someone could bring a brown bear up to the north pole just to make the question harder. We need to realize that these puzzles are less about making sense and more about trying to confuse readers until we figure out what they were thinking.
      • Agreed. These trick questions are meant to Mind Screw you more than anything. As for the car on the hill, I've heard an alternate solution: the tire of a truck fell off but the driver kept going until he noticed something was up. The guy stopped off the side of the road to change his spare when the tire, which was still rolling along, hit him out of nowhere at 40+ miles an hour, killing him. Occam's Razor could be applied to the original solution too: why does the death need to be deliberate? What if the "murderer" is someone who just left their car parked and the brakes wore out, sending the car flying on its own? The puzzle would have to have other points of fact like specifying that no one had driven the car in several hours to even get to the solution that it was a setup.
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