Think you’re smart? Take this test…

Creativity testThink you can think out of the box, laterally, creatively? Hmm… Let’s test you!

Many hundreds of years ago in a small Italian town, a merchant had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the moneylender. The moneylender, who was old and ugly, fancied the merchant’s beautiful daughter so he proposed a bargain. He said he would forgo the merchant’ debt if he could marry the merchant’s daughter. Both the merchant and his daughter were horrified by the proposal. The cunning money lender suggested that they let providence decide the matter.

The moneylender told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty bag. The girl would then have to pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become the moneylender’s wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven. But if she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail.

They were standing on a pebble strewn path in the merchant’s garden. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As he picked them up, the sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick her pebble from the bag.

Now, imagine you were standing in the merchant’s garden. What would you have done if you were the girl? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her? Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:

  1. The girl should refuse to take a pebble.
  2. The girl should show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a cheat.
  3. The girl should pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from his debt and imprisonment.

Take a moment to ponder over the story. The above story is used with the hope that it will make us appreciate the difference between lateral and logical thinking. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking.

Think of the consequences if she chooses the logical answers.

What would you recommend the girl do?

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3 Responses to “Think you’re smart? Take this test…”


  • Tell the girl to apply lots of white powder or paint to her hand. Then use that hand to grab a pebble from the bag. The pebble she picks up will be white and so the debt would be forgiven and she wouldn’t have to marry the moneylender.

  • IHow about she invites the moneylender to choose a pebble then choose a secongd as the one that counts- he knows they are both black so cannot choose 1 & 2 & be exposed so he calls it off and forgives the debt.

  • Play the same game.. conceal a white pebble in the hand on the way into the bag and produce it on the way out.. or.. just turn it around on the money lender.. get HIM to draw a white pebble, if its black, all bets are off… ah stuff it.. dad probably deserves to do some time!

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