Mind Blowing Paradoxes (The Ultimate Guide + Image Quotes)

A paradox is a self-contradictory premise. It's a situation that appears to defy logic by resulting in an inconsistency that contradicts common sense. The vast majority of logical paradoxes are known to be invalid arguments. However, they are still useful for encouraging critical thinking and, on occasion, proving a point through contradiction. Teasing your mind and questioning everything you think you know is a great way to stimulate your mind. Indeed, the more closely you examine things, the more paradoxes you'll notice all around you.

Here are some of the most intriguing paradoxes you should be aware of. Every time you read or think about them, your mind will be blown. Enjoy!

1. The phrase “likely to exist” implies “likely to be found,” but where is everyone?

The apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial civilizations being out there somewhere and our lack of alien contact or evidence creates a mind-boggling paradox.

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In an infinite universe, the chances of life existing on a planet other than Earth are quite high. However, no confirmed evidence of intelligence has been discovered outside of Earth, either in our galaxy or in the more than 80 billion other galaxies of the observable universe.

As a result, physicist Enrico Fermi famously asked, “Where is everybody?”

2. Is an object the same after all of its components have been replaced?

This is a classic paradox based on the original Ship of Theseus Paradox of the ancient Greeks. Plutarch famously described it as a way to get at the contradictions of identity. This is how it works:

You've got an old wooden ship. You remove one plank at a time from the ship and replace it with a new plank. You repeat this process with each piece until the old ship is completely replaced. Is this the same ship? Which ship is the original if you build a new one out of the old pieces from the first one?

A newer version of this paradox replaces the “ship” with the “brain,” bringing the contradictions of identity closer to home. Would you be the same if you quickly replaced parts of your brain material with identical clones and created a separate brain from the old brain material? Would you still be the same person?

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

Consider the following version of the popular science fiction-themed Bootstrap Paradox, which involves time travel and the return of an object or information:

Unexpectedly, a stranger appears and hands you a strange device. The stranger then flees, never to be seen again. You discover the device you've been handed is a time machine. You get bored after a while of holding it. Instead of getting rid of it, you think to yourself, “Hey, why don't I give it to myself?” So you go back in time and give yourself the device, restarting the cycle.

What was the source of the device?

4. Is it possible to go back in time and prevent yourself from being born?

The Grandfather Paradox is another well-known example of a time travel paradox. In this mind-boggling scenario, someone travels back in time and murders their own grandfather in order to prevent their own birth.

Consider this: A girl goes back in time and murders her grandfather before he can meet her grandmother and sire her father. The girl was never born because her grandfather died.

How could she have killed her grandfather if she had never been born?

5. Is it possible for an omnipotent being to defy logic and be both omnipotent and not omnipotent?

This version of the Omnipotent Being Paradox is based on a simple but strange exclamation: “Let God Almighty create a stone that he himself is incapable of lifting!”

Is it possible for God to be omnipotent and not at the same time? If God is omniscient, how can there be free will?

These are just a few of the many paradoxes that arise when logic is applied to definitions of God or an all-powerful being.

6. Isn't it pointless to go to a doctor, for example, if destiny designed a master plan that defines everything that will happen?

According to the Lazy-bones Paradox, if you are sick and it is your destiny to recover, you will recover whether you see a doctor or not.

If it is your fate not to recover your health, then seeing a doctor will not help you. This is a paradox that may arise if you reject the concept of an all-powerful God or a supreme being in charge.

How would you call this premise or supposition into question?

7. A word that does not describe itself is referred to as a heterological word. Does the term “heterological” describe itself?

For example, “verb” is a heterological word because it is not a verb (as opposed to “noun,” which is a noun in and of itself). Similarly, “long” is a heterological word because it is not a long word (unlike “short,” which is a short word). Is “heterological” then a heterological word?

This is one of many self-referential paradoxes that have plagued mathematicians and logicians.

If the word “heterological” didn't describe itself, it would describe itself. However, if it did describe itself, it would not be a self-descriptive word.

8. Is someone telling the truth when they say, “I always lie”? Or are they telling the truth?

Chrysippos, the great Stoic logician, devised a paradox known as the Liar Paradox. It's about a Cretan who sails to Greece. When he arrives, he is greeted by Greek men on the beach and declares, “All Cretans are liars.” Did he tell the truth or a lie? A week later, the Cretan returns to Greece and declares, “All Cretans are liars, and everything I say is true.”

The Greeks were perplexed. Nobody was more perplexed than the grammarian and critic Philetus of Cos, who is said to have died of exhaustion while attempting to solve the paradox.

Maybe we should just leave this one unsolved? No?

9. A barber shaves everyone who does not shave themselves, but not everyone else. Who shaves the barber's head?

The Liar Paradox is similar to this paradox. Bertrand Russell, an English logician, mathematician, and philosopher, coined the phrase to emphasize the importance of following strict rules when creating sets. His Set Theoretic Paradox would pave the way for twentieth-century mathematics.

The story goes as follows: There is only one barber in town. The barber (a man) shaves only men who do not shave themselves, and no one else.

Who shaves the barber's head? Does he shave his legs?

10. What happens when an immovable object collides with an unstoppable object?

An old story goes that a man was walking through a market when he came across a merchant. Two of the merchant's wares were boldly advertised: “This spear can pierce any shield!” and “This shield can withstand any spear!”

For a brief moment, the man ponders these opposing statements. He then approaches the merchant and inquires, “What happens when you pierce the shield with your spear?” This question elicited no response from the merchant.

A bullet and armor are used in a more recent account of an unstoppable object facing an immovable object. Consider a bullet that can pass through any barrier. There's also some bullet-proof armor that no object can penetrate.

What happens if such a bullet strikes such armor?

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