Well, I’m no geek, nor do I know much about the technicalities revolving around many paradoxes, yet I find paradoxes to be one of the most intriguing gifts logic gave us. They’re alluring and interesting. For once everyone is compelled to try to prove it(them) wrong, or perhaps just somehow conceited or maybe, just point out a loophole in the statement. It comes naturally, we love the eerie, strange, tricky and bizarre It’s only humane. So here’s a small list of the never ending list of paradoxes. I’ve tried to keep out the “heavy” stuff and make it sound simple, in case it isn’t. Hope you enjoy.
I’ll start with the first paradox I read about:
- The Pinocchio Paradox
I hope you’ve heard about Pinocchio in your childhood, in case you haven’t or you’ve forgotten, let me refresh your memory. Pinocchio is the main protagonist of the novel “The Adventures of Pinocchio (such a unique title, ain’t it? 😛 ). He’s (of course) a fictional kid, whose nose grows every time he lies, like this:
So assuming that his nose grows bigger only when he tells a lie, what will happen when he says, “My nose grows now.”? Think about it. If it doesn’t grow, then his statement is a lie, and it will grow, which would make his statement true, in which case his nose doesn’t grow, and again he is lying. The cool thing about paradoxes is they are logical yet they defy logic. Intriguing? Isn’t it?
- The unexpected hanging Paradox
This is quite a winner in my eyes, when it comes to being cocky. I mean, really, you should know what I’m talking about when you read about it. (In case you don’t, you probably won’t, in that case, you should know that I’m crazy and I say lots of random stuff, kindly bear with me and don’t pay any heed to me. 😉 )
Okay, here it goes: A judge tells a condemned prisoner that he will be hanged at noon on one weekday in the following week, but that the execution will be a surprise to the prisoner. He will not know the day of the hanging until the executioner knocks on his cell door at noon that day. Having reflected on his sentence, the prisoner draws the conclusion that he will escape from the hanging. His reasoning goes like this: He begins by concluding that the “surprise hanging” can’t be on a Friday, as if he hasn’t been hanged by Thursday, there is only one day left – and so it won’t be a surprise if he’s hanged on a Friday. Since the judge’s sentence stipulated that the hanging would be a surprise to him, he concludes it cannot occur on Friday.
He then reasons that the surprise hanging cannot be on Thursday either, because Friday has already been eliminated and if he hasn’t been hanged by Wednesday night, the hanging must occur on Thursday, making a Thursday hanging not a surprise either. By similar reasoning he concludes that the hanging can also not occur on Wednesday, Tuesday or Monday. Joyfully he retires to his cell confident that the hanging will not occur at all. The next week, the executioner knocks on the prisoner’s door at noon on Wednesday, which, despite all the above, will still be an utter surprise to him. Everything the judge said has come true.
Classy, isn’t it? Here though, another thought is, the prisoner might foresee this also, in a way, the more layers we bring, the classier it gets. (This reminds me of one Penguins of Madagascar episode, about it: some other time.)
- Time Travel Paradox
There are many paradoxes which fall in this category, let’s just consider a simple one (which I remember because I had seen a documentary in which it was being talked about, some Stephen Hawking’s documentary, it was. Can’t remember the name.) Yeah, so..let’s just assume, time travel is possible, i.e., a person can go into past or future (Yeah, like dozens of movies you might have watched, essentially triggered by the success of Back To The Future, may be not, but I’d like to think so. 😛 ). Now, what a person does is, he carries a gun and as soon as he inserts the bullets, he jumps back 1 minute in the past at the same location, and shoots himself. (I know, sounds naive and silly, but let’s just continue about it.) Now, the question that arises is, who killed the man and how? The man actually hadn’t put in the bullets when he really got shot with the same gun, and since he is actually dead 1 minute before, who came to kill him?
I hope, you’re still following! 😀 And I’d be impressed if you could answer any of these, and yet many more of such paradoxes are there, which can simply quench your thirst when you vaguely want to read something interesting.
By the way, very much like the Pinocchio Paradox is the Liar Paradox, I don’t feel like writing about it since it’s repetitive, so here, a cartoon strip: