Paradoxes to Ponder – Part Deux

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Last week I posted some of my favorite paradoxes (Click her for part 1.) – here are some more gems:

Service recovery paradox: “Successfully fixing a problem with a defective product may lead to higher consumer satisfaction than in the case where no problem occurred at all.” This is the business flavor of the paradox, but it can be similarly applied to social aspects as well. Someone who is born again or overcomes some failure that was entirely their fault, often garners more respect than those who avoided the pitfall in the first place. Go figure. Nice guys finish last, that’s why I’m a bad boy.

Heat death paradox: “Since the universe is not infinitely old, it cannot be infinite in extent.” Any hot object transfers heat to its cooler surroundings, until everything is at the same temperature. If the universe were infinitely old there must have been enough time for the stars to cool and warm their surroundings. Everywhere should therefore be at the same temperature and there should either be no stars, or everything should be as hot as stars. So the universe can’t be infinitely old, and since it can’t be infinitely old it cannot extend to infinity.

False positive paradox: “A test that is accurate the vast majority of the time could show you have a disease, but the probability that you actually have it could still be tiny.” Consider a test with no false negatives, which gives a false positive only 0.04004% of the time, applied to a million people, in which 1 person in 10,000 is infected. The expected outcome would be: 100 people would receive a true positive, 400 people would receive a false positive, and 999,500 would would be correctly negative. Thus, only 20% of the positive results are correct, even though the test is “over 99.95% accurate”.

Tolerance paradox – “A tolerant person is antagonistic toward intolerance, hence intolerant of it. The tolerant individual is by definition intolerant of intolerance, but in so being must be intolerant of himself.” Should the tolerant person be tolerant of intolerance in others? So maybe the most tolerant people are those that are just completely indifferent to the cause?

More: Wikipedia’s complete list

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