Exercising Your Mind: 3 Thought Experiments to Flex Your Brain

Things to do when bored

Like your bones and muscles, the brain can also experience fatigue if you don’t exercise it regularly. This is why it’s important to engage your brain with think pieces or complex puzzles regularly. Unfortunately, most people are using their free time to laze around and binge seasons upon seasons of TV shows. Instead of relying on modernity to overcome your boredom, you can take a page from the philosophers of old to make the most out of your idle time.

Keep your mind engaged with these 3 through experiments

Eons ago, philosophers didn’t have access to video games or even simple crossword puzzles. Instead, they picked through their brains by using thought experiments that push the limits of their thinking capabilities. Instead of using keyboards or puzzle pieces, they wrestle with the restrictions and paradoxes of right from wrong, the nature of reality, and the existence of GOD himself.

In this article, we’ll help you flex your brain like a philosopher with these three thought experiments:

1. Filling in the missing shade of blue

Imagine a person who has seen all the colors in existence, except for a unique shade of blue. He has seen other gradations of the color and can organically arrange them with just that one color as a gap between two others. Would that person be capable of filling in the gap by utilizing his imagination?

This thought experiment is a puzzle about how humans learn things by experiencing moments. With this principle, humans should be unable to think of something they haven’t encountered yet in their life. However, some people who answer this thought experiment have inventive ways to fill in the gap, from mixing two hypothetical gradients.

2. Taking a trip inside the experience machine

Imagine an experience machine that can give you any experience you want, like being a star basketball player or bestselling author. However, the machine is merely a construct that keeps you detached from reality since it only manipulates your brain and sense. Would you plug in this machine and experience the best life you’ll ever have but remain unchanging in the real world? As a bonus, the machine will also erase your memory of being inside a manufactured reality.

Having an ideal life is a question that many philosophers have debated whether happiness is simply pleasure or more. For some, pleasure may be enough to supplement happiness, even in manufactured conditions. However, the experience machine thought experiment challenges the dark reality to achieve this goal. Most of us would hesitate to live a fake life, questioning our need to pursue truth even amidst the appealing lifestyle of hedonism while being plugged in the experience machine.

3. Saving the child in the well

Imagine a child about to fall in a well. Instinctively, you should feel a need to save the child. This doesn’t come from a need to get a reward or the reputation you’ll have if you didn’t save the child. Mengzi hypothesizes that a person’s feeling of compassion trumps any objective need that a person has.

In Mengzi’s homeland of China, he developed the theory that humans observe four roots known as ren, yi, li, and zhi. When translated, these mean compassion, rightness, ritual propriety, and wisdom, respectively. For this specific experiment, he believes that humans are innately compassionate beings.


Think these mental workouts are a bit too deep to handle? Well, that’s exactly the point! These short stories and puzzling statements can unravel your brain and improve how you approach problems. Although some solutions may seem straightforward, considering the implications of your answer can make you doubt and revise what makes your answer a valid one.

There are thousands of ways to keep your mind busy without spending a dime or moving an inch. At Bored A Lot, we curate a massive directory of curated articles and links to serve as your gateway online to discover hundreds of things to do when you’re bored. Check out our blog for more interesting facts, games, and activities!

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