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10 Crazy Paradoxes That Will Blow Your Mind

10 Crazy Paradoxes That Will Blow Your Mind

A paradox is a premise that contradicts itself. It’s a situation that seems to defy logic by producing an inconsistency that goes against common sense. Most logical paradoxes are known to be invalid arguments. However, they are still valuable for promoting critical thinking and sometimes proving a point by contradiction. Teasing your mind and question everything you think you know makes for great intellectual activity. Indeed, the closer you examine things, the more you’ll start to discover paradoxes all around you.

Here are some of the most fascinating paradoxes you should know about. These will boggle your mind every time you read or think about them. Enjoy!

1. Likely to exist means likely to be found, but where is everybody?

A mind-blowing paradox comes from the apparent contradiction that exists between the high probability of extraterrestrial civilizations being out there somewhere, and our lack of alien contact or evidence.

In a universe of infinite space, the odds of life existing on a planet other than Earth are pretty high. However, no confirmed signs of intelligence have been spotted outside Earth, either in our galaxy or in the more than 80 billion other galaxies of the observable universe.

Hence physicists Enrico Fermi’s famous question: “Where is everybody?”

2. Does an object that has all its components replaced remain the same object?

This is a classic paradox drawn from the ancient Greeks’ original Ship of Theseus Paradox. It was famously described by Plutarch to get at the contradictions of identity. It goes like this:

You have an old wooden ship. You remove a plank from the ship one at a time and replace it with a new plank. You do this with every piece until the old ship is completely replaced. Is it still the same ship? If you construct a new ship out of the old pieces you took off the first ship, which one is the original ship?

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A newer version of this paradox that drives the contradictions of identity closer to home replaces the “ship” with the “brain”. If you somehow quickly replaced parts of your brain material with identical clones and made a separate brain with the old brain material, would that be you too? Would you still be you?

3. Time travel (if possible) would result in some extremely strange situations.

Consider the following version of the popular science fiction themed Bootstrap Paradox, involving time travel and bringing an object or information back in time:

A stranger appears out of nowhere and hands you a strange device. The stranger then runs away and you never see them again. You discover the device handed to you is a time machine. After holding it for a while, you get bored. Instead of getting rid of it, you figure: “Hey, why not give it to myself?” So you go back in time and give yourself the device hence starting the whole cycle again.

Where did the device come from?

4. Can you travel back in time and prevent yourself from being born?

Another famous example of a time travel paradox is the Grandfather Paradox. In this mind blowing scenario, someone travels back in time and kills their own grandfather to prevent their own birth.

Think about this: A girl goes back in time and kills her grandfather before he has a chance to meet her grandmother and sire her father. Since her grandfather is dead, the girl was never born.

If she were never born, how could she kill her grandfather?

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5. Can an omnipotent being defy the laws of logic and be both omnipotent and not omnipotent?

This version of the Omnipotent Being Paradox arises from the simple but strange exclamation: “Let God Almighty create a stone, which he himself is not capable of lifting!”

Can God be omnipotent and not at the same time? How does free will even exist if God is omniscient?

These are just some of the many paradoxes that arise when you try to apply logic to definitions of God or an almighty being.

6. If destiny designed a master plan which defines everything that is to happen, isn’t it useless to go to a doctor, for example?

According to this Lazy-bones Paradox, if you are ill and it is your destiny to regain health, then you will regain your health whether you visit a doctor or not.

If it is your destiny not to regain health, then seeing a doctor can’t help you. This is a paradox that might arise if you reject the notion of an omnipotent God or a supreme being who’s in charge.

How would you question this premise or supposition?

7. A heterological word is a word that does not describe itself. Does “heterological” describe itself?

For example, “verb” is a heterological word since it is not a verb (as opposed to “noun,” which is itself a noun). Similarly, “long” is a heterological word since it is not a long word (as opposed to “short,” which is actually a short word). So then, is “heterological” a heterological word?

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This is one of many self-referential paradoxes that have kept mathematicians and logicians up at night.

If “heterological” were a word that didn’t describe itself, then it would describe itself. However, if it did describe itself, then it would not be a word that described itself.

8. If someone says “I always lie,” are they telling the truth? Or are they lying?

The great stoical logician Chrysippos came up with a paradox popularly known as the Liar Paradox. It tells of a Cretan who sails to Greece. Upon arriving, he is greeted by Greek men on the shore and says, “All Cretans are liars.” Did he speak the truth, or did he lie? A week later, the Cretan sails to Greece again and says, “All Cretans are liars and all I say is the truth.”

The Greeks were truly puzzled. None were more confused than the grammarian and critic Philetus of Cos, who is said to have died of exhaustion while attempting to resolve the paradox.

Maybe we should just let this one go unsolved then? No?

9. A barber shaves everyone who does not shave himself, but no one else. Who shaves the barber?

This paradox is similar to the Liar Paradox. It was formulated by English logician, mathematician, and philosopher Bertrand Russell to emphasize the importance of establishing careful rules when creating sets. His Set Theoretic Paradox would lay the groundwork for 20th-century mathematics.

It goes like this: There is only one barber in town. The barber (who is a man) shaves only those men who do not shave themselves, but no one else.

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Who shaves the barber? Does he shave himself?

10. What happens when an unstoppable object faces an immovable object?

An ancient story is told of a man who was walking through a market when he came across a merchant. The merchant advertised two of his wares boldly: “This spear can pierce any shield!” and “This shield can block any spear!”

The man contemplates these opposing statements for a moment. He then walks up to the merchant and asks, “What happens when you pierce the shield with the spear?” The merchant had no answer to this question.

A more recent account of an unstoppable object facing an immovable object involves a bullet and armor. Imagine there is a bullet which can shoot through any barrier. There is also some absolutely bullet-proof armor which no object can penetrate.

What will happen if such a bullet hits such an armor?

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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Last Updated on March 24, 2021

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

8 Smart Home Gadgets You Need in Your House

We’ve all done it. We’ve gone out and bought useless gadgets that we don’t really need, just because they seemed really cool at the time. Then, we are stuck with a bunch of junk, and end up tossing it or trying to sell it on Ebay.

On the other hand, there are some pretty awesome tech inventions that are actually useful. For instance, many of the latest home gadgets do some of your work for you, from adjusting the home thermostat to locking your front door. And, if used as designed, these tools should really help to make your life a lot easier—and that’s not just a claim from some infomercial trying to sell you yet another useless gadget.

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Take a look at some of the most popular “smart gadgets” on the market:

1. Smart Door Locks

A smart lock lets you lock and unlock your doors by using your smartphone, a special key fob, or biometrics. These locks are keyless, and much more difficult for intruders to break into, making your home a lot safer. You can even use a special app to let people into your home if you are not there to greet them.

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2. Smart Kitchen Tools

Wouldn’t you just love to have a pot of coffee waiting for you when you get home from work? What about a “smart pan” that tells you exactly when you need to flip that omelet? From meat thermometers to kitchen scales, you’ll find a variety of “smart” gadgets designed to make culinary geeks salivate.

3. Mini Home Speaker Play:1

If you love big sound, but hate how much space big speakers take up, and if you want a stereo system that is no bigger than your fist, check out the Play:1 mini speaker. All you have to do is plug it in, connect, and then you can stream without worrying about any interruptions or interface. You can even add onto it, and have different music playing in different rooms.

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4. Wi-Fi Security Cameras

These are the latest in home security, and they connect to the Wi-Fi in your home. You can use your mobile devices to monitor what is going on in your home at all times, no matter where you are. Options include motion sensors, two-way audio, and different recording options.

5. Nest Thermostat

This is a thermostat that lives with you. It can sense seasonal changes, temperature changes, etc., and it will adjust itself automatically. You will never have to fiddle with a thermostat dial or keypad again, because this one basically does all of the work for you. It can also help you to save as much as 12% on heating bills, and 15% on cooling bills.

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6. Smart Lighting

Control your home lighting from your remote device. This is great if you are out and want to make sure that there are some lights on. It is designed to be energy efficient, so it will pay for itself over time because you won’t have to spend so much on your monthly energy bills.

7. Google Chromecast Ultra

Whether you love movies, television shows, music, etc., you can stream it all using Google Chromecast Ultra. Stream all of the entertainment you love in up to 4K UHD and HDR, for just $69 monthly.

8. Canary

This home security system will automatically contact emergency services when they are needed. This system offers both video and audio surveillance, so there will be evidence if there are any break-ins on your property. You can also use it to check up on what’s happening at home when you are not there, including to make sure the kids are doing their homework.

Featured photo credit: Karolina via kaboompics.com

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