Lateral Thinking

Two men are paddling a rowboat. Suddenly the boat runs into something and comes to an abrupt stop. The man in the front of the boat gets thrown out of the boat. Although he hits nothing but water, when he climbs back into the boat, he is completely dry. How come?

We've all seen puzzles like this. The best way to play them is in a group where one person knows the answer, and the others ask yes-or-no questions to try to understand the apparently impossible situation given. These puzzles are called lateral thinking puzzles.

In the above example, the answer is that the boat ran into pack ice, and that is what the man had landed on.

This term, I'm running a contest based on these puzzles. I'll give an original puzzle every two weeks (if I can) and your job is to solve them. E-mail me your questions, and I'll respond as soon as I get them. I'll be checking my e-mail at least twice a day to get out the answers. Questions posted to uw.mathnews will not be answered. The first correct solution will win a mathNEWS prize.

Here is this issue's puzzle: A thief, caught at the scene of his crime, requested that his arresting officer book him for manslaughter, not theft. How come?

E-mail with your questions and guesses... and start figuring!


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