Oftentimes, the small talk gets to be a bit old when we're wanting to get to the core of a person right off the bat. Generic questions tend to lead to generic, predictable responses. ("What do you do?...Oh really?...How fascinating.") Why not mix it up a bit? Why not ask questions that not only produce interesting, uncanned answers, but that can also serve as litmus tests for whether you really want to associate with a person or not?
Questions like these often require no introduction or explanation, so they can serve a ice-breakers as well. You can get a flicker of someone's true self if you catch them off guard enough. (The only requirement is that you be prepared for some people to think you're a weirdo for not talking about the usual things or for asking inane questions, but these will normally be only a small percentage of the populous.)
You're standing in a field and all of a sudden a craft crash-lands onto it. Among the rubble, you see very clearly the body of an extra-terrestrial. What do you do?: Call the authorities or take the creature and try to protect it from them?
You found a portal to an alternate universe and you met your alternate self. He (or she) does not appear at all different from you and there are barely any slight differences in your two respective worlds. Would you have sex with your alternate self?
It turns out that life and reality as you know it is being produced by a machine running a program that simulates life. In reality, you have no body and are a brain (or other apparatus of consciousness) inside a vat being subjected to the simulation. Nobody outside intends to disturb you--you can go about your life normally inside the fabricated reality. Would it bother you? Would you try to die or escape?
You've met what seems to be the man/woman of your dreams. He/she is exactly what you could have ever wanted and you feel yourself falling more and more deeply in love with him/her as you get to know each other. You've never felt so completely compatible with a person ever in your life before. The feeling appears mutual, and, though the two of you are officially "only friends," he/she seems like he/she also wants to move things into the realm of romance. However, something seems to be holding him/her back, and he/she tells you that there's something you simply must know about him/her before you go any further.
Finally, he/she tells you: Surprise! He/she is transgendered and still has his/her vagina/penis, though he/she will likely go about correcting this in the near future.
What do you do?
And further, what if he/she already had surgery and was so indistinguishable from normal that you wouldn't have known unless he/she told you about his/her past? What then? Or, on the opposite extreme, what if he/she never intended to have genital surgery due to the risks? How about then?
(Now, fair warning, number 5 breaks the "no religion or politics" rule, but you'll find that some people [myself included] think that that's a rule that was implemented by people who wanted to guarantee that every conversation in the universe would be drool-inducingly boring.)
You're sitting alone in your house in the middle of the night and suddenly you hear the voice of God calling your name. You decide that you're not crazy when you actually see His form descend to meet you. He smiles and shakes your hand courteously and introduces Himself as the manager of the universe.
He tells you that Satan has been defeated and that He may now take you (and the rest of the world) to heaven, but that He must render you innocent to enter the kingdom of God--meaning, He must take from you the knowledge of good and evil and make you like a child again in that sense. You must unlearn most of the things in your life, especially those related to what is right and wrong. In heaven, you will not need any of this because you will live a peaceful, utopian life free from conflict or challenge, where every physical need of yours is met automatically or doesn't exists in the first place.
Almost as suddenly as God had appeared, in a flash of light, Satan appears with a pained look on his face. "Run!" he says. "I came to Earth long ago so that you would know the truth about good and evil, and so you could find your own path with an independent spirit. Don't let that go now, after all you've learned! What kind of life is that in heaven, where everything is given to you? What is the point of that? You may as well die or you may as well have never been born if you have nothing to learn or do! Isn't it obvious why your knowledge has to be taken from you to live in such a place? Only an ignorant zombie could thrive on being provided creature comforts alone!"
"Come with me!" Satan says. "I have constructed another world in which we can live; a world very much like this one. There, you can live out the rest of your lifespan like a human being and then die normally."
"Ha!" God pipes in all of a sudden. "Don't you see? He is even clear about it himself: Satan is the bringer of death! He is guaranteeing it to you! I will strip you of your troublesome knowledge, then you can live forever! Don't you want to live forever? Come with me, my child! I created you, after all. I know what's best for you! Don't let this monster drag you to hell!"
What do you do? Who do you go with?
So when you're in need of some good old-fashioned what-if's, try one of these. Maybe things will get interesting.
Star Serendipity from London on January 15, 2012:
Ha - very funny, and interseting. Great imagination to think of these as conversation topics/ice breakers!
Jaylen Ralphie on October 31, 2011:
This came up the other day. Please offer input. Which would live longer, a human in the woods or a deer in the house?
PluralGem from London, England on August 11, 2011:
This is a great hub! AND I am going to try some/all of these questions out on people I am already friends with ! :)
thanks for sharing
kallini2010 from Toronto, Canada on August 06, 2011:
I'll tell you what will do.
I am with you - boring predictable questions are a killer and they don't reveal about a person as much as we need to know.
if someone asks me one of your questions ... that would be our last meeting.
Not because I would think you are crazy or a weirdo, simply because those questions reveal that you are not my kind of person.
An interesting perspective nonetheless.
FOREX NINJA on March 29, 2011:
Wonderful and nice piece of information in here,i really enjoyed reading this well presented piece of article.
BeckyMe on February 17, 2011:
This read really well...I may try these, thanks! It makes for a much more genuine conversation to catch people offguard with conversation like this.