Productivity and Communication

When You’re Bored at Work: Consider a Paradox and Practice Critical Thinking

paradox is a statement that appears valid at first glance but ultimately leads to a self-contradictory or logically unacceptable conclusion. They are a valuable lesson in promoting critical thinking. Enjoy!

Decision Theory

  • Abilene paradox: People can make decisions based not on what they actually want to do, but on what they think that other people want to do, with the result that everybody decides to do something that nobody really wants to do, but only what they thought that everybody else wanted to do.
  • Buridan’s ass: How can a rational choice be made between two outcomes of equal value?
  • Decision-making paradox: Selecting the best decision-making method is a decision problem in itself.
  • Fredkin’s paradox: The more similar two choices are, the more time a decision-making agent spends on deciding.
  • Hedgehog’s dilemma: or Lover’s paradox Despite goodwill, human intimacy cannot occur without substantial mutual harm.
  • Inventor’s paradox: It is easier to solve a more general problem that covers the specifics of the sought-after solution.
  • Navigation paradox: Increased navigational precision may result in increased collision risk.
  • Newcomb’s paradox: How do you play a game against an omniscient opponent?
  • Paradox of tolerance: Should one tolerate intolerance if intolerance would destroy the possibility of tolerance?
  • Parrondo’s paradox: It is possible to play two losing games alternately to eventually win.
  • Prevention paradox: For one person to benefit, many people have to change their behavior — even though they receive no benefit, or even suffer, from the change.
  • Prisoner’s dilemma: Two people might not cooperate even if it is in both their best interests to do so.
  • Willpower paradox: Those who kept their minds open were more goal-directed and more motivated than those who declared their objective to themselves.


  • Paradox of analysis: It seems that no conceptual analysis can meet the requirements both of correctness and of informativeness.
  • Buridan’s bridge: If Plato says “If you make a false statement, I will throw you in the water”, and Socrates responds, “You will throw me in the water”, there is no way for Plato to keep his promise.
  • Fitch’s paradox: If all truths are knowable, then all truths must in fact be known.
  • Paradox of free will: If God knows in advance how we will decide, how can there be free will?
  • Paradox of hedonism: When one pursues happiness itself, one is miserable; but, when one pursues something else, one achieves happiness.
  • Hutton’s paradox: If asking oneself “Am I dreaming?” in a dream proves that one is, what does it prove in waking life?
  • Omnipotence paradox: Can an omnipotent being create a rock too heavy for itself to lift?
  • Rule-following paradox: Even though rules are intended to determine actions, “no course of action could be determined by a rule, because any course of action can be made out to accord with the rule”.
  • When a white horse is not a horse: White horses are not horses because white and horse refer to different things.
  • Zeno’s paradoxes: “You will never reach point B from point A as you must always get half-way there, and half of the half, and half of that half, and so on …” (This is also a paradox of the infinite)

An interesting list of paradoxes in many areas can be found at:


Article publié pour la première fois le 11/12/2018

Further Reading