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Icebreakers

Surgeon's Dilemma

Stereotypical thinking is one of the major barriers to awareness. Generalisations can help to make sense of the world but they can also seriously mislead us...

A young man who had been badly injured in a car accident has been brought into a hospital's accident and emergency department. The doctor determines that emergency brain surgery is required. Accordingly, the brain surgeon is paged. Upon seeing the patient, the surgeon exclaims, 'My God, I can't operate on that boy! He's my son!'
That is so, but the surgeon is not the boy's father. How can the apparent contradiction be explained?

Solution


Variations

In a similar story, two Native Americans — a tall one and a much shorter one — arrive at a fort to negotiate with the US Marshals about the land the Native Americans are occupying. They look very much alike and, in fact, they are closely related. The short native is the son of the tall native, but the tall native is not the father of the short one. What is their relationship?


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