The Most Popular Paradox: Exploring the Fascinating World of Paradoxes

Choose the paradox you think is the most popular!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Feb 23, 2024 06:23
Step into the mind-boggling world of paradoxes and cast your vote in our latest ranking of "What is the most popular paradox?" here at StrawPoll! Unravel the mysteries of seemingly contradictory statements and immerse yourself in the curious realm of logical conundrums. Thousands of thinkers like you are debating and voting on their favorite paradoxes, from the classic "This statement is false" to the enigmatic "Can God create a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it?" Don't miss this chance to explore the intricate labyrinths of human thought and engage in stimulating discussions with fellow enthusiasts. Is your favorite paradox missing from our list? Fear not – you can suggest it and see it climb the ranks! Dive into the captivating world of paradoxes and let your voice be heard. Vote now and keep the conversation going!

What Is the Most Popular Paradox?

  1. 1
    This is a paradox that deals with time travel, where a person goes back in time and kills their own grandfather, thereby preventing their own existence. This paradox is popular because it highlights the logical inconsistencies of time travel.
    The Grandfather paradox is a commonly cited time travel paradox that involves a person traveling back in time and potentially preventing their own birth by causing harm to or killing their own grandfather before their own parent is conceived.
    • Paradox Type: Time Travel Paradox
    • Premise: Traveling back in time to change the past, which may result in preventing one's own existence
    • Scenario: Traveler attempts to kill their own grandfather before their parent is conceived
    • Potential Outcome 1: The traveler successfully kills their grandfather, preventing their own birth and creating a paradox
    • Potential Outcome 2: The traveler fails to kill their grandfather, thus maintaining their own existence but failing to change the past as intended
  2. 2
    This paradox arises from the statement "This statement is false." If the statement is true, then it must be false, but if it is false, then it must be true. This paradox is popular because it challenges the concept of truth and falsehood.
    The Liar paradox is a self-referential logical paradox that arises when considering a statement that says 'This statement is false.'
    • Originated in: Ancient Greece
    • Type: Logical paradox
    • Formulation: Self-referential statement
    • Statement: 'This statement is false'
    • Truth value: Neither true nor false
  3. 3
    This paradox asks whether a ship that has had all its parts replaced is still the same ship. This paradox is popular because it raises questions about identity and continuity.
    The Ship of Theseus paradox is a philosophical paradox that raises questions about the nature of identity and continuity. It asks whether an object that has had all of its components replaced remains the same object or becomes something new.
    • Alias: Theseus' paradox
    • Origin: Ancient Greece
    • Key Question: Does identity reside in the individual components or the overall structure?
    • Description: The paradox revolves around a thought experiment involving a ship, where over time all of its wooden components are replaced. At what point does it cease to be the 'original' ship?
    • Identity: Raises questions about personal and object identity.
  4. 4
    This paradox deals with the concept of heap, where a small change in the number of objects in a group can change whether it is considered a heap or not. This paradox is popular because it challenges the concept of boundaries and categories.
    The Sorites paradox, also known as the paradox of the heap, is a classic paradox that raises difficulties in defining boundaries or making distinctions based on gradual changes.
    • Also Known As: The paradox of the heap
    • Type: Semantic paradox
    • Key Question: When does a collection of individually insignificant items become significant as a whole?
    • Main Focus: The problem of vagueness and the difficulties of applying crisp boundaries to concepts
    • Key Elements: Heap, gradual change, application of boundary criteria
  5. 5
    This paradox asks who shaves the barber in a town where the barber shaves all those who do not shave themselves. This paradox is popular because it challenges the concept of self-reference.
    The Barber paradox is a paradoxical situation that arises from a self-referential statement about a barber who shaves all and only those men in the village who do not shave themselves. The paradox questions whether the barber can shave himself or not, leading to a logical contradiction.
    • Paradox type: Self-referential paradox
    • Origin: 1901
    • Influential figures: Bertrand Russell, G.E. Moore, Frank Ramsey
    • Central question: Can the barber shave himself?
    • Contradiction: If the barber shaves himself, he falls under the condition of not shaving himself, which means he shouldn't shave himself. Conversely, if he doesn't shave himself, he would meet the condition of shaving himself, which means he should shave himself.
  6. 6
    This paradox asks whether an omnipotent being can create a stone too heavy for itself to lift. This paradox is popular because it challenges the concept of omnipotence.
    The Omnipotence paradox is a philosophical paradox that questions the logical coherence of an omnipotent being. It revolves around the concept of whether an omnipotent being can truly exist if it has the ability to perform any action, including creating a task that it cannot accomplish.
    • Name: The Omnipotence paradox
    • Type: Philosophical paradox
    • Origin: Unknown, but has been discussed by various philosophers
    • Question: Can an omnipotent being create a task it cannot accomplish?
    • Implication: If an omnipotent being can create a task it cannot accomplish, then it is not omnipotent. If it cannot create such a task, then it is also not omnipotent.
  7. 7
    The Bootstrap paradox
    BrightRoundCircle · CC BY-SA 3.0
    This paradox deals with the origin of information, where information is derived from itself without any external source. This paradox is popular because it challenges the concept of causality.
    The Bootstrap Paradox is a time travel paradox where an object or information is said to have no clear origin, thus creating a circular causal loop. It gets its name from the saying 'pulling oneself up by the bootstraps,' which means achieving something without any outside help.
    • 1: The paradox involves an object or information that exists without being created.
    • 2: The object or information is obtained from the future and then sent back to the past.
    • 3: The original source of the object or information becomes unclear, as it is trapped in a loop.
    • 4: There is no clear resolution or answer to the paradox, as it lacks a definite origin.
    • 5: It challenges the concept of cause and effect, as the effect becomes the cause.
  8. 8
    This paradox asks whether a society that is tolerant of intolerance can remain tolerant. This paradox is popular because it challenges the concept of tolerance.
    The Paradox of tolerance refers to the idea that a society that is tolerant of all viewpoints and ideologies may ultimately lead to its own destruction as it becomes susceptible to the rise of intolerant ideologies and individuals.
    • Also known as: Paradox of tolerance
    • Created in: 1945
    • Concept: A tolerant society must be intolerant of intolerance
    • Underlying idea: Allowing intolerant ideas can ultimately lead to the destruction of tolerance itself
    • Advocates: Karl Popper, John Rawls
  9. 9

    The Fermi paradox

    Physicist Enrico Fermi
    This paradox asks why we have not yet detected any extraterrestrial civilizations, despite the high probability of their existence. This paradox is popular because it challenges the concept of the universe and our place in it.
    The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of extraterrestrial civilizations existing in the universe and the lack of evidence or contact with such civilizations.
    • 1: The Drake Equation, formulated by Frank Drake in 1961, is often associated with the Fermi paradox and is used to estimate the number of active, communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.
    • 2: The paradox suggests that if there is a high probability of other intelligent civilizations existing, then we should have already encountered signs of their existence, such as radio signals or interstellar probes.
    • 3: The paradox is often discussed in relation to the Great Filter hypothesis, which proposes that there must be some obstacle or filter preventing civilizations from advancing to the point of widespread space colonization or communication.
    • 4: Possible explanations for the paradox include the rare Earth hypothesis, which suggests that the development of intelligent life is extremely unlikely, or the zoo hypothesis, which proposes that advanced civilizations are intentionally avoiding contact with humanity.
    • 5: The Fermi paradox has inspired various theories and debates in fields such as astronomy, physics, and sociology, exploring the existence and behavior of extraterrestrial life.
  10. 10
    This paradox deals with the concept of cooperation and competition, where two individuals are better off cooperating with each other, but each has an incentive to defect. This paradox is popular because it highlights the tension between individual and collective interests.
    The Prisoner's dilemma is a highly cited paradox in the fields of economics and game theory. It is a situation where two individuals, accused of a crime and held in separate cells, have to decide whether to cooperate with each other or betray each other. The outcome of each individual's decision depends on the other's choice. The paradox highlights the conflict between individual self-interest and cooperation for mutual benefit.
    • Type: Game theory paradox
    • Origin: 1950s
    • Players: Two
    • Possible choices: Cooperate or betray
    • Payoff matrix: Reward, temptation, punishment, and sucker's payoff values

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Ranking factors for popular paradox

  1. Widespread recognition
    A popular paradox should be one that is widely recognized and discussed by people, both within and outside of academic or philosophical circles.
  2. Ease of understanding
    A popular paradox should be relatively simple to understand, at least on the surface level. It should not require extensive background knowledge in a specific field to grasp the main idea.
  3. Challenging core assumptions
    A popular paradox should challenge core intuitions or beliefs, causing people to question their understanding of fundamental concepts. This often leads to stimulating discussions, as people grapple with the implications of the paradox.
  4. Rich intellectual history
    A popular paradox should have a deep-rooted intellectual history and should have inspired critical thinking, debate, and discourse over time. This can involve not only famous philosophers and thinkers but also broader cultural influences.
  5. Adaptability
    A popular paradox should be adaptable to various situations and fields of study. In other words, it should have relevance beyond its original context.
  6. Impact on other fields
    A popular paradox should have had an impact on other fields of study, leading to new research questions, theories, and discoveries.
  7. Resistance to resolution
    A popular paradox should remain largely unresolved or at least subject to multiple interpretations. This ensures that it remains a point of interest and discussion among different generations.
  8. Timelessness
    A popular paradox should have a sense of timelessness, remaining thought-provoking and relevant despite advances in knowledge and changing societal contexts.
  9. Inherent ambiguity
    A popular paradox should have a level of inherent ambiguity, which allows for different interpretations and fosters debate among individuals with different perspectives.
  10. Cultural impact
    Lastly, a popular paradox should have a cultural impact, inspiring references in literature, art, and popular culture, and engaging a wide audience beyond just academic or philosophical circles.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most popular paradox. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Paradox is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 206 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Paradox once every 24 hours. The rank of each Paradox is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most popular paradox

Paradoxes have always been a fascinating subject, where a statement or situation seems to defy logic and reasoning. It is not surprising that many people find themselves drawn to the challenge of solving paradoxes. From ancient Greek philosophers to modern-day thinkers, paradoxes have been debated and studied for centuries. A paradox is a statement or situation that appears to be contradictory or illogical, but upon closer examination, may reveal a deeper truth. The most popular paradoxes include the liar paradox, where a statement contradicts itself, and the grandfather paradox, where a time traveler goes back in time and kills their own grandfather before they have any children, creating a paradox in which the traveler would never have been born. The popularity of paradoxes can be attributed to the intellectual challenge they pose, as well as their ability to spark curiosity and provoke thought. They have been used in literature, art, and philosophy to explore the complexities of the human mind and the nature of reality. Whether you are a philosopher or simply enjoy a good brain teaser, paradoxes continue to captivate and intrigue people around the world.

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