Top 10 most famous paradoxes of all time!

Well, if you think I can tell you what a paradox is, then you will not understand. Because, that is what a paradox is. It is self-contradictory, it is an assertion opposed to common sense, but yet absurdly it may be true.

Well, now since we have got that into our brains, or maybe not, let’s see the 10 most famous paradoxes known.

Monty Hall’s Paradox

famous paradoxes

Ever saw “let’s make a deal”? You might not have, it’s pretty old. This paradox is loosely based on that show.

You are given three doors. Behind two of these doors, there are goats. Behind one is a car. You have to make a pick by sheer guess.

Now, after you have made your pick, say door no.1; the host opens the door no. 3 and shows you a goat, then asks if you want to switch.

Apparent probabilistic analysis may suggest that whether you switch or not would not affect the result as both the doors have a 1/3 chance of having the car.

But here lies the paradox. It’s actually beneficial to make the switch as door no.2 has a 2/3 chance of having the car.

It’s mathematically proven, and if you don’t believe me, feel that this is counter-intuitive, welcome to the world of paradoxes.

The Unexpected Hanging


This paradox goes – there is a judge who tells a prisoner that he will be hanged in the coming weekdays and the date of his hanging will be a surprise and he will not know until the executioner comes knocking at his cell.

The prisoner now thinks about what the judge has just told. He reasons that he will not be hanged on Friday, as if he is not hanged by Thursday, Friday will be obvious, hence not surprise.

He continues this reasoning and further assess that if he is not hanged by Wednesday, and Friday is omitted, he will not be hanged on Thursday since it will not be a surprise.

Continuing this way he finds that he will not be hanged on Wednesday, Tuesday or Monday hence avoiding his death.

But much to his surprise the executioner came on Wednesday noon and knocked on his door.

Fletcher’s Paradoxfamous paradoxes fetcher-paradox

You think you know motion? Well, you do if this paradox is like a fallacy to you, or else it’s time to revise that 7 standard textbook again.

We have ‘motion’ defined as the change in position of an object.

Now let us take the example of an arrow. In order for an arrow to be moving, at any given instant in time it must be moving to where it is or where it is not.

Now the arrow can’t move to where it is. It is already there. It can’t move to where it is not. Because in a single instance, there isn’t enough time for the arrow to move ‘there’.

Now it is observed that in any given instance no motion is occurring. A period of time is a collection of many instances.

So, by the aforementioned logic it is very simple to conclude that no motion occurs.

But it’s every day fact that motion is always happening. And hence the paradox.

The Barber’s Paradox

barbar famous paradox

Suppose in a town there is only one barber and an intrinsic rule, “EVERY MAN MUST SHAVE. WHO SO EVER DOESN”T SHAVE THEMSELVES MUST GO TO THE BARBER”.

So everything is fine until the barber’s turn comes to shave.  If he doesn’t shave himself he must follow the rule and shave himself, because the barber shaves people who doesn’t shave themselves.

But if he shaves himself, abiding by the rule it follows he will not shave himself.

And thus the brain hurting hairy paradox.

Precaution: Thinking might make you bald.

The Epimenides Paradox

epimendes paradox

This is many a times considered as the very definition of a paradox.

This is phrased in many ways and is also known as the ‘liar paradox’.

The most simple version of the paradox must be this:- “this statement is false.”

Well, if this statement is false, then it would be true which would again refer it to be false and hence the very paradoxical nature of the ‘statement’.

This is the classical self-contradictory scenarios where the term paradox is most commonly used.

The Grandfather Paradox

grandfather famous paradox

I’m sure 70% of you have heard this one. It’s one of the most famous paradoxes out there. And strong enough to make your head hurt.

Suppose you have built a time machine. You go back in time with your time machine to the period when your grandfather was unmarried i.e. your father hasn’t born.

You then kill your grandfather, hence your father was never born which in turn will conclude that you never were born.

Now, there comes the paradox. If you kill your grandfather, then you are never born, then how can you accomplish the feat of traveling back in time to kill your grandfather.

Sorites Paradox


Suppose you have a heap of sand. If you take out an individual grain of sand from this heap, you still have a heap of sand.

Well, if you follow that logic and keep removing one grain of sand from that heap you are ultimately left with a single grain of sand. By the logic, this single grain of sand is a heap or, there is no such thing as a ‘heap’. Feeling the paradox yet?

So as the say, “oceans are actually water droplets”, but by this we get water droplets are actually oceans.

“Wow, that’s heavy!”

Raven Paradox


This paradox is created by a logician. Man, logic is illogical!

The paradox is like this.

  1. All ravens are black.
  2. Everything that is not black is not a raven.
  3. A green apple is not a raven.

Now by following this logic we refer to a notion suggesting that a site of a green apple concludes that all ravens are black.

Now this is a paradox as it is implying of information being gained of object A (raven) by observing object B (apple).

Ship of Theseus


“The Ship of Theseus Paradox” a.k.a “Grandfather’s Axe paradox” has been around from about the late 1st century. The Paradox goes like this. Suppose you have a ship made of 100 pieces of wood. After certain interval of time an old piece is replaced by a new piece of wood.

The ship is still the same ship (replacing a tire to our car doesn’t change our car, right?). Now after a succession of these intervals, our ship’s old wood pieces have been completely replaced by new pieces of wood.

Now the question arises if we form a ship with all the old pieces of wood, which one would be our original ship?

So, our car isn’t our car after a tire replacement?! (Or is it?!)

Omnipotence Paradox


And the last but not the least, the Omnipotence Paradox. It’s pretty straight forward. Can an omnipotent being limit its own power?

Rephrasing it might sound like, could God create a rock so heavy that he cannot lift it?

Why is this paradoxical? Well, God can do anything, so he can create it, but after its creation, he can’t lift it, hence losing his status as omnipotent.

Intriguing, yes? Mind boggling? All you atheist can use it against your next big arguments.

So these are all the paradox we have for you now. If you know of any others, do comment. Wishing you a braintastic day people.

1 thought on “Top 10 most famous paradoxes of all time!”

  1. awesome Mr.Dibakar the article is very good and give us a lot of knowledge about paradoxes which also helps us it is our good fortune to have writers like you i will be waiting for the next article

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