Thursday, December 09, 2010

On the flawed logic of paradoxes.

You get a double hitter today. I'm inspired, 'n shit. I've just read a thing on 7 purportedly unsolvable paradoxes, where every suggested solution is idiotic. I however have elegant solutions to all of them.

1) Free will.
If god is omniscient and knows everything that is going to happen, how can we have free will?

Two solutions. One, there is no god. Too easy eh? Two, assuming the existence of an omniscient being, He would necessarily know every possible outcome of every possible action for every possible situation. It is not required that he know which will take place, as there is no fact to that which has not occurred. Actually, i have a third solution. We don't. Free will is an illusion. In conclusion; there is no paradox.

2) The crocodiles dilemma
A crocodile steals a son from his father, and promises to return the child if the father can correctly guess what the crocodile will do. What happens if the father guesses that the child will not be returned to him? The supposed issue is that if he returns the child, the father is wrong, and he shouldn't have returned the child, but if he keeps it, the crocodile breaks his word.

The crocodile kills the child and returns the body. Nothing says he can't return the child if the dad is wrong. Also, the dad's a smartass, and doesn't deserve the kid back. (also, crocodiles can't talk.)

3)  Time travellers grandfather.
A man goes back in time, and kills his grandfather before the grandfather can meet his grandmother. This means that one of the man’s parents will not have been born, and the man in turn, will not have been born. This would mean that he could not have traveled back in time after all, which means the grandfather would still be alive, and the traveler would have been conceived allowing him to travel back in time and kill his grandfather.

Logically, time travel in which events of the past can be changed is impossible. It brings about the situation where the grandfather both died and didn't die. Assuming that the grandson does in fact go back in time to try to kill his grandfather, his every attempt will fail, as his grandfather does not die then. History is already written, and in it his grandfather survives. In that time period, he already existed and tried to kill his grandfather, before he was born. This involves reverse causuality, and i can't be arsed explaining it properly here, but ask me some time. Time travel is something I'm big on. I wrote an essay assessing basically this question.

4) Paradox of the heap
There are 1,000,000 grains of sand in a heap. If we remove one grain, it is still a heap. If we remove another grain, if it still a heap. If we continue removing one grain at a time, when we’re left with one grain, is that still a heap?

Realistically, it would transform from a heap, to a pile, to some other smaller abstract notion of a collection of particles. These are not clearly defined, and have more to do with the height and volume of the collective, rather than the number of entities. Is a 100 people standing in a room a heap? I'd say no. But 100 people lying haphazardly in a stable pile, I'd call that a heap.

5) Omnipotence paradox
Can God create something so heavy He cannot lift it? If he can create something so heavy he can’t lift, then his lack of strength means he is not omnipotent. If he can’t create something so heavy he can’t lift, than he is not omnipotent.

The answer to this is simple. An omnipotent being must necessarily be able to remove his own omnipotence. So yes, god can microwave a burrito so hot not even he can eat it. Because as soon as he does, he removes his omnipotence.

6) Epimenides paradox
Epimenides, in a poem wrote: “The Cretans, always liars, evil beasts, idle bellies!” However, Epimenides himself was a Cretan. If Epimenides is a Cretan and a liar, then his statement, “The Cretans, always liars” is a lie. This means all Cretans are truthful, then Epimenides’ statement is the truth. The paradox will infinitely regress.

Quite simply, the negation of "every Cretan is a liar" is not "every Cretan always tells the truth". It is "At least one Cretan has told the truth at least once." So Epimenides is a liar, and at some point a Cretan has told the truth at least once.

7) Unstoppable force.
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an unmovable object? If the force moves the object, then it is not unmovable. If the force doesn’t, the force is not unstoppable.

This is an impossible situation, because an unstoppable force requires infinite energy, and an unmovable object requires infinite mass. In a theoretical sense however, perhaps the object stays still, and the universe moves around it. I could not say for sure.

That's it. For those that want the original, it's here


  1. answering number 7: the unstoppable force will go through or bounce off the unmovable object, it doesn't necessarily have to only go in one direction at all times

  2. Ah but if it changes direction, it is a different force. To really understand that, you need to know engineering mechanics, and vector spaces. But it was a clever suggestion nonetheless.

  3. well you could say that if you were thinking that the new force was produced from the unmovable object, but assuming that the unstoppable force ricochets off the unmovable force doesn't it still keep the original force of unstoppable? ... i'm not sure

    but as I said before, the unstoppable force doesn't necessarily has to exactly stop once it hits an unmovable force, it can go through it, which could suggest that the unstoppable force is a bunch of accelerated particles, no?

  4. Travis here, I am going to inform you why everything you just said is complete bullshit and you may as well have been talking about nude wrestling with co-workers, which is what your audience wants.

    1.Ima ignore solution 1 & 3 cause neither of them address the paradox. Now 2, just because you know the possible outcomes does not make you all knowing e.g. I know all the possible combinations for the lotto numbers however I don't know what the exact combination will be next week. You are not all-knowing or "omniscient" unless you know what is going to occur for a fact.

    2.Well you didn't really address the underlying paradox, you more or less just solved that immediate situation.

    3.cbf getting into this whole time traveling thing again.

    4.Once again I think you just addressed the specific situation and not the underlying paradox. That being that if you remove a tiny insignificant quantity from a large total that the total before and after are essentially equal, at what point can you say the total is small? Because the adjacent states are so similar if you were to define it as a specific value then the states either side of that are so close that they then fall into that definition and so on. That was probs a really shitty explanation, I understand it in my head I just cant put it in words. Although I do have a feeling that you were joking about this one.

    5. But then when he puts his omnipotence back on he can eat it. So I think it's still a paradox. I don't really like this one, I think it's too subjective or sumshit

    6.I think your negation is wrong. I think if you remember back to discrete when you 'not' things you don't change the "for all" to "there exists" which i think is what you've done. So I think the correct negation is actually "Every Creten always not tells the truth" or something along those lines. Therefore there does not exist a creten that has told the truth. Im not sure if my logic is right but Im pretty bloody sure that yours is wrong

    7. Yeah cbf

    It's 3:24am so chances are I made some dumb mistakes both grammatically and logically but I think you get my gist. Either way im right, you are wrong.


  5. You misunderstand the issue here. The force doesn't 'move' it 'acts'. You're not throwing something at the unmovable object, you're pushing on it with unstoppable force. A bunch of accelerated particles can exert a force on the object, but they themselves are not a force.

  6. Travis, sorry, your comment ended up in the spam section. It was tempting to leave it there, but i decided to address the issues you brought up.
    1) There is no fact. The events haven't happened yet. There is no way of knowing what will occur, only what could occur.
    2) I'll agree with you. It's a bit of a cop out. I didn't really care enough to find a formal solution to the general paradox.
    3) skip.
    4) The issue here is in the inherent vagueness of the term "heap" You cannot say "a heap is X items" because you could arrange X items into something that is not a heap. A heap would need to be defined in terms of height and volume, not number of items.
    5) Once he has created the burrito, he can do everything BUT eat it. Because he is no longer omnipotent. That is the one thing that denys him his omnipotence.
    6) If you go back and look, the negation of a 'for all X' is a 'there exists not X', and vice versa. Eg, Not all animals have fur translates to there exists an animal that does not have fur.
    7) skip.

  7. "and crocodiles can't talk". Well, you sure proved them wrong. Lol.