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Creative thinking puzzle 2 - The "drop the block" problem

Have a look at the picture below. It shows a person holding a block of wood. Now, what will happen to the piece of wood when the person lets go of it?

The answer is at the bottom of this page.
After entering your own answer in the box below, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Do not look at the answer until you have written an answer down for yourself.

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No cheating now. Please do not look at the answer until you have one yourself.


Answer to the "drop the block" puzzle:

The answer is that it depends on where the person is and the environment they are in:

If the person is on earth ... If the person is under water ... If the person is in space ...
The block of wood will drop DOWN to the ground as it is drawn to earth by gravity. The block of wood will float UP to the surface of the water because it is less dense than water. The block of wood will NOT MOVE because there are no overall forces in any direction.

How did you think about an answer?

Spend 30 seconds thinking about how you arrived at an answer.

Inevitably, the most common answer is that the block of wood will fall DOWN to the floor. While this answer IS the most appropriate answer for common living, this puzzle shows how easy it is to give the most obvious answer first and to ignore alternative possibilities. It's so easy not to consider the context of the problem. Different situations need different answers. You are probably already living in a different world to the world which existed yesterday. How have you changed your view of life to take the changes into account? (NB. Remember that on a practical level you must always accept that will never know everything and that we are here to learn and enjoy the process of learning.)

A graphic example of this type of assumed thinking is as follows:

What will happen when a woman walks out of her home dressed normally in a smart jacket and skirt?

The answer depends on where she lives in the world. What is considered acceptable and normal in one country can be quite different in another. There is a phrase that "Sin is geographical" which means that you can commit a sin in one country that is not a sin in another:

  • In many countries, the woman will be respected by society because she is working hard in an office, the assumption being that she is contributing to the economy.
  • In other countries, she will be committing a sin of showing parts of her legs and could be stoned to death!

In some countries, teenagers can buy automatic guns whereas in other countries it is totally unacceptable. You will see the world from your own perspective which is influenced by the closest world around you. Try to escape that mindset and explore other possibilities which will improve your current world.

We do not see the world as it is, we see it as we are.

Lessons to be learned from this puzzle

Think about the current situation before answering

  • If you see the world from only one angle you will struggle to change it.
  • What assumptions have you made?
  • What rules have you assumed?
  • How do your own perceptions influence the world you inhabit?
  • How do you see the world and how is your view different to that of other people? What advantages and disadvantages are there of each way of thinking?

How can you think differently?

  • Imagine the problem from someone else's angle.
  • What happens in other countries/cultures/companies?
  • How can you change the situation to make a solution work?
  • Visit or read about other people's lives and try to understand why they think in the way they do.

"Knowledge is created by the learner, not given by the teacher." If you are trying to learn something then you will need to think about it. We are not trying to teach you anything you don't already know, you are merely using us to remind you of things you want to remember.

Click here to go to the next puzzle or click here to return to the main puzzle page.

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