# Antedating of "Outside the Box" (UNCLASSIFIED)

Mullins, Bill AMRDEC Bill.Mullins at US.ARMY.MIL
Mon May 3 23:09:52 UTC 2010

```Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

More circumstantial support for the "puzzle theory" origins of "outside
the box".

Marjorie Van de Water "What to do about Thinking in a Rut" _Salt Lake
Tribune_ 1/10/1937 p 72 [syndicated by EveryWeek Magazine; also found in
Laredo TX Times, Ogden UT Standard Examiner, Montana Butte Standard, and
other Newspaperarchive papers.]

"The dot puzzle provides another example of how ironbound the average
person's thinking is by preconceived ideas.  Perhaps you would like to
try it.

[followed by illustrations.  Illo #1:  3 x 3 grid of dots.  Illo #2
Array of dots with line going from center to top center; top center to
top right; top right to bottom right; bottom right to bottom left;
bottom left to top left -- 5 line segments in a clockwise spiral from
center outward]

Nine dots are arranged in the form of a square.  The problem is to join
these nine dots with a series of continuous straight lines without
taking your pencil from the paper.  It is easy to connect the nine dots
in the form of a square with a series of five straight lines.  But can
you do it with only four lines?   . . .

The answers for these problems are given elsewhere on this page. In each
case the solution depends upon ridding yourself of your original notion.

With the dots, if you had trouble with the problem it was probably
because you were trying to stay within the square with your lines.  The
wording of the problem suggested this to you although a second reading
will show you that nowhere is this requirement staled. Let your pencil
go beyond the limits of the square and you will have much less
difficulty. . .

[an illustration shows the solution]"

While the phrase "outside of the box" does not appear in the article,
everything that connects the puzzle to the phrase does -- "fresh
angles", "keep your mind open", "stay within the square" and other
pertinent phrases do show up.  Whoever originated the phrase may have
read this article, or went through the same line of thinking.

Also . . .

Advertisement [for the book _How to make a habit of success_ by Bernard
Haldane, on sale at Brentano's bookstore] _New York Times_, 11/10/1960
col 1

"Are You Boxing Yourself In? [3 x 3 grid of dots]  In this book the
author uses the diagram above as a simple test* to show how many people
are putting stumbling blocks in their own path by the way they THINK.

*the test is a simple one, just join all nine dots with four straight
lines without taking your pencil from the paper"

Also . .  .
"From priest to professional" By Heather Firehock _The Washington
Post_(Potomac Magazine Section) Nov 14, 1971; p 37 col 1
"The "class" is asked, for instance, to connect nine dots arranged in a
three-by-three square, using only four straight lines and without
lifting the pencil from the paper.  [picture of 3x3 grid of dots]
Seldom can anyone do it.  The trick is to let the lines go beyond the
square -- get outside the box.  It's a mind-opening exercise.  Everyone
wants to stay within the artificial confines of the box -- which in fact
does not exist even on paper."

The puzzle also appears in an article on Creative Thinking in the Oct
1960 Reader's Digest.
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

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The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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