Monday, January 23, 2006

Liar liar

The Liar Paradox was discovered by the ancient Greeks, and concerned them to a great extent. It concerned them because it seemed to be unsolvable. It seemed to offend the very nature of the world and reason itself. It goes like this...

One day, a traveller comes across a man who is sitting by the road. The man by the road cautions the traveller: "Don't believe a word from the first person that talks to you today - they are lying!" The traveller throws his head back in astonishment.
"But you're the first person to talk to me today!"
The traveller continues on his journey and ponders the strange exclamation made by the man. He thinks: "If he is lying, then he is telling the truth. But if he is telling the truth, then he is lying".

Hence, the paradox. So, which is it?!


Doctor Marco said...

I think that he is lying because:

If he is lying then he is telling the truth, if he is telling the truth he is lying. We can cancel both "he is telling the truth" and say: if he is lying, he is lying.

N B Saunders said...

Yes i think that he is lying as well. He can't be telling the truth if telling the truth means that he is lying. But if he is lying, then even if what he says is true, he is still lying.

Anonymous said...

A lie is a false statement told with the intent to deceive someone. (A lie is not just saying something false: we've all made unintentional factual mistakes.) The man "sitting by the road" says what he says not to deceive the traveller, but only to impress or bedazzle him. By the way, the traveller is the one lying. I saw him earlier the same day, and I always speak the truth (at least when I'm not lying).

Anonymous said...

I must say that Marco's logic is infallible, yet misunderstood. If he is lying then he is lying. that's a true statement derived from the paradox. However, this also means that if he is telling the truth, he is telling the truth. Therefore, we have only reworded this tricky equation.... hmmm....

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