Hey, language can be a lot of fun! Especially when it comes to paradoxes.
Do you know what a paradox is? Just in case you don’t, it’s basically a self-contradictory statement. And there are a ton of them out there that we say all the time.
What’s your favorite paradox?
Here’s what the good people on AskReddit had to say.
1. Brain matter.
“The human brain paradox.
You see, our brains are so complex that we can’t fully understand how they work. If they were simpler, we totally could.
Except that if our brains were simpler, we’d be more stupid, and still unable to fully understand our own brains.”
2. The Cobra Effect.
“The Cobra effect.
During the British rule of colonial India the government was concerned about the number of cobras in Delhi. To resolve this, the British offered a bounty for every dead cobra brought in. While initially successful this resulted in people breeding the cobras to then slaughter them for the reward.
When the British became aware of this they stopped the bounty, resulting in many of the breeders releasing their now worthless cobras into the general population and thus overall increasing the population of cobras in Delhi.
Good anecdote to describe unintended consequences.”
3. A personal one.
“I work in IT and have no fucking clue what I have been doing for the past 20 years and am constantly panicked that it is all about to fall apart, I will be exposed as a fraud, fired, sued, shot, killed, burned, ashes scattered in a sewer in Scotland the morning after a Haggis cook off.
However, all the people I work with seem to have literally Never touched a piece of technology that didn’t baffle them like Australopithecus staring at a 2019 Peterbuilt, I swear they are all fucking morons, if I am the stupidest person I know then how are all of them so bad at their jobs?”
“There’s a version of the Boostrap Paradox I like from a novel called The Anubis Gates.
One of the main characters is studying the poetry written by an ancient Pharaoh. Time travel shenanigans ensue, and he comes to realize that he, in the past, is said ancient Pharaoh, and writes down the poetry from memory so it can be written when history says it is.
Now, he studied it in the future, where he memorized it. And he wrote it in the past from that memorization. But his future self could only study it because his past self wrote it, who only knew it because his future self studied it, and so on.
Who wrote the poems?”
“Cheese has holes More cheese = more holes More holes = less cheese.”
“When my family says, “I’m not racist but…” and then proceeds to say something definitely racist.”
“The coastline paradox.
Coastlines don’t have a well defined length. Imagine trying to measure the coastline of an island. Actual coasts wiggle in and out.
How small of a wiggle you’re willing to measure (instead of just glossing over it) will change the length you measure.”
8. Changing rooms.
“I believe it’s called The Hotel Paradox?
There’s an infinite number of rooms in a hotel, and if each person moves to the room next door/a different room no one would be left without a room or you’d never run out of rooms.
Either that or you’d just have to keep folks moving all the time.”
9. One to ponder.
“If you go back in time and kill Hitler, then you will never have heard of Hitler in your time and wouldn’t know to go back in time and kill him so Hitler would live allowing you to learn about him and go back in time to kill him but now you’ve never heard of him and don’t go back to kill him so he to lives.”
“Doc Hollywood and Doc Brown.”
11. Deep in space.
“Moore’s Law – Waiting Paradox.
There’s no point in launching a spaceship on a deep space mission, because as technology advances so rapidly that any ship you build in the future will be faster/more efficient and hence overtake any craft that you launch now, inferring that one should always put off launching a deep space mission.”
12. Death penalty.
“If you support the death penalty, and even one person is found out to be innocent after their execution, you are in turn a murderer and should be put to death.
It’s the obvious paradox of the death penalty, but people enjoy bloodlust too much to see through the red in their eyes and black in their hearts. This applies to everyone who currently supports the death penalty.
Society wrongfully murders people who are later exonerated every year; it’s fucking bananas some states still allow it.”
13. Thank you for this!
“People who claim that undocumented workers in the US are lazy and leeches to society (implying that they don’t work) but that they’re stealing jobs from Americans.”
14. Bad traffic.
“That nobody drives in NYC because the traffic is so bad.”
15. Now what?
“You’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t.”
16. Blowin’ my mind!
“There is a time travel paradox that involves a door.
So you have a field and there is a free standing door. You are the guard you watch from side on. The door only lets people move 24 hours. Go in one way and it’s 24 hours into the future. Go in the other and it 24 hours into the past.
One day you see a guy come out into the past. But unlike most people he doesn’t leave. He stays in the field near the door. Then, precisely 24 hours after he arrives, he goes into the door.
The paradox is this man’s existence. To the casual observer he only exists for the 24 hours between exit and entrance.”
Now we want to hear from you!
In the comments, tell us what YOUR favorite paradox is.
Please and thank you!