A contradictory statement contradicts itself : Paradoxes


How often in a day do you just simply think? Not about yourself or other people, but just analyzing a situation, coming up with a witty, self-contradictory statement. Paradoxes might be just the thing to ponder about when you are standing in long ATM queues or waiting for the milk to boil.

A paradox is a statement that contradicts itself or a situation which seems to defy logic. That’s a simple definition of paradox. Often premises can be proven false which rectifies the contradiction. Sometimes they are just play on words, however, some paradoxes still don’t have universally accepted resolutions. I will discuss a few paradoxes here:

  • The Grandfather paradox

    If time travel to the past was feasible… then why doesn’t this world contain people from a different timeline? This paradox is assumed to be the reason. The grandfather paradox goes like this: Imagine you travel to the past and kill your grandfather, when he is young. Now since your grandfather is dead, your father/mother might not have even been born. And eventually, you wouldn’t exist. If you do not exist, then who killed your grandfather?
    Professor Stephen hawking conducted a simple test to investigate the possibility of time travel.

He wrote a letter to all great scientists and future scientists to return to a set date at a particular time. When he saw that no one had arrived, he knew that there were only two possibilities. Unable to crunch on the possibility that time travel to the past itself wouldn’t be possible, he convinced himself that a paradox had happened, which prevented the time travelers from reaching their destination.

  • Barber’s paradox

Statement: The barber is the one who shaves those and only those who do not shave themselves. Now, does the barber shave himself?
This one is quite tricky so let me try to explain: The barber shaves all the people who do not shave themselves. And the barber does not shave the people who can do it themselves. Now when you come to the case where the barber grows a foot long beard and decides to get it trimmed, applying the above statement for the barber leads to a contradiction.

This paradox is a specific case of the Russel’s paradox: “Does the set that contains all elements, contain itself?”.
Take some time to think.


  • Self-Contradictory paradox

There are 2 people in a room.
Person 1: “He never tells the truth”

Person 2: “Person 1 is telling the truth”. Try to make sense of this situation.

There are many versions to this kind of paradoxes. I guess the examples themselves were self-explanatory. A self-contradictory paradox has two parts to its structure, where the first part is the statement that leads us to believe that the second statement is true, but the second statement negates the first. Here are some more examples :
Ever noticed the irony in certain books where it is written in some particular page : “This page is intentionally left blank” ?
If there is nothing that God can’t do, can he create a stone that no one can lift? If he does so, can he lift it?

What will happen if Pinocchio says “My nose will grow now?”

Interesting indeed. Thanks for reading. 😀




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