Grandmother paradox

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Grandma

Look at that crooked smile. You just know she's got some stories of you when you were just a wee lad.

The grandmother paradox is a social phenomenon revealing faulty reasoning and logic skills in the aged. The paradox can occur at any time, at any place, with little more prior warning than staring into space and chewing, which are sure signs of rifling through memories that tend to change every time they are recalled.

It typically begins with the question "What is...", or "Do you remember...", or some variation thereof. Then, the subject will announce a single bit of information, which can, at any given time, relate to between anywhere from 1.0 \times 10^2 to 2.7 \times 10^{38} possible events in your life. The subject will then continue to recall various memories while prompting the victim to supply further information. The process continues until the story is completed.

A special division of psychology (crackpot) has recently investigated this phenomenon and come to the conclusion that, during most cases, both victim and subject are trapped in a paradox. Predictably, they named this the grandmother paradox, because had they named it anything else, the title of this article would have been different.

When the Paradox is not a Paradox

The grandmother paradox does not occur when the subject and the person being questioned are both attempting to narrate a story. During these times, the Universe is safe from the Paradox[1] although probably not free from other such evils as slavery and taxes.

When the Paradox is Present

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The paradox can and will[2] appear if the subject is attempting to tell a story to the person whom she is questioning. It can be argued that the entire point of a story is to tell something new to the person who is listening. Yet if the storyteller in this situation depends heavily, if not completely, on the listener, how can the story, indeed, be a story?[3]

According to legend, the paradox was first discovered when an old grandmother was asked to be a witness to a horrendous crime. Instead of relaying her own account, she instead managed to end every sentence with a question mark and phrasing such as "that's right, isn't it?" The defendant, feeling sympathy for the old woman, filled in several details for her, and later realized he had just done himself in. Reportedly, the defendant's lawyer was so frustrated at this that he became a clown, because he figured it was another job that he could play dress-up in.

Hence the paradox can be summarized thusly: Why are you tellin' me this, grandma, if you don't even remember it?

Combating the Paradox

This Paradox, just as all other paradoxes, is very detrimental to the Universe's health. They are small, yet annoying, like paper cuts or Chihuahuas. So next time your grandmother wants to take a trip down Memory Lane, do the world a favor and stop her before she crashes into something. It won't be good for you or the Universe.

Feet Notes

  1. Capitalized so you won't confuse it with other, less-important paradoxes.
  2. When it feels like making an appearance. If it's slept in or is feeling depressed it probably won't make the effort.
  3. It can't. Sorry to ruin the surprise. Spoiler warning, by the way.

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