Could You Think Of A Solution?

Many years ago in a small Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to a female village moneylender. The female Moneylender, who was old, fat and ugly, fancied the farmer's handsome son, Cliff.

So she proposed a bargain.

She said she would forego the farmer's debt if she could marry his son. Both the farmer and his son were horrified by the Proposal.

So the cunning female moneylender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. She told them that she would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty moneybag. Then the son would have to pick one pebble from the bag.

If he picked the black pebble, he would become her husband and the father's debt would be forgiven.

If he picked the white pebble he need not marry her and the father's debt would still be forgiven.

But if he refused to pick a pebble, his father would be thrown into jail

They were standing on a pebble-strewn path in the farmer's field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. As she picked them up, the sharp-eyed son noticed that she had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag.

She then told the son to close his eyes and pick one pebble from the moneybag.

Now, imagine that you were standing in the field. What would you have done if you were the son? If you had to advise him, what would you have told him?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities:
  1. The son could refuse to take a pebble.

  2. The son could show that there were two black pebbles in the bag and expose the moneylender as a dishonest cheater.

  3. The son could pick a black pebble and sacrifice himself in order to save his 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.

»»»  (Page down to find out what the son decided to do)

»»»  The Son's Solution . . . .

The son's dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking. Think of the consequences if he chooses the above logical answers.

What would you recommend the son do?

Well, here is what he did . . . .

The son put his hand into the moneybag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, he fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble-strewn path where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles.

'Oh, how clumsy of me,' he said. 'But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.'

Since the remaining pebble is black, it must be assumed that he had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit her dishonesty, the son changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.


Most complex problems do have a solution. If only we take the time to think the problem through.
[ Author Unknown -- from Vera Bright, via 'Grac*e-mail' ( ]

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