The Epimenides Paradox is a problem in logic. It is named after the Cretan philosopher Epimenides of Knossos (alive circa 600 BC), who stated Κρῆτες ἀεὶ ψεῦσται (Kretes aei pseystai), "Cretans, always liars". Today – thanks to the informed logic of our own Prime Minister Gordon Brown – logicians everywhere are marvelling at his solution to this, one of the most difficult to comprehend paradoxes in the history of history. Brown has finally cracked the Epimenides Paradox. Or to be more precise, Brown has created a new version, known in the academic jargon of logical philosophy as a ‘Paradoxical Inversion’ and this new version in itself is an absolute proof of the two and a half thousand year-old paradox. Now, Gordon Brown can tell the truth while he's lying - he literally lies when he tells the truth. Let me explain.
Epimenides was a Cretan. He infamously once made the incredible statement, ‘Cretans always lie’. But keep in mind that Epimenides was himself a Cretan – so he must have been lying when he made the statement, ‘Cretans always lie’. So ‘Cretans always lie’ is itself a lie and he must have meant ‘Cretans always tell the truth’.
Now keep up! This is the tricky bit.
If Cretans always tell the truth then Epimenides must have been telling the truth when he said that ‘Cretans always lie’. But if Cretans always lie then he must have been lying. Can you see the paradox? The Epimenides Paradox is one of the ‘holes in linguistic logic’ and clearly demonstrates that language is not to be trusted. Using the logic of Epimenides it is quite easy to prove that black is white, up is down - or cuts are investments.
Before the logic exhortations of our Dear Prime Minister the Epimenides Paradox was largely unexplored territory. There was one attempt in the 20th century by a man named Blair who wrote:
‘Applied to an opponent, it means the habit of impudently claiming that black is white, in contradiction of the plain facts. Applied to a Party member, it means a loyal willingness to say that black is white when Party discipline demands this. But it means also the ability to BELIEVE that black is white, and more, to KNOW that black is white, and to forget that one has ever believed the contrary. This demands a continuous alteration of the past, made possible by the system of thought which really embraces all the rest, and which is known in Newspeak as DOUBLETHINK.’
Blair, of course, changed his name to George Orwell before he published his seminal work, 1984 from which the above is taken. Few people now know him by his real name – Eric Blair. Brown, however, has not merely resurrected his mentor Blair’s concept of DOUBLETHINK - or believing that black is white - but has gone much, much further in completely demolishing the Epimenides Paradox and mathematically proving that black is white, or in his case that budget ‘cuts’ are actually ‘investments’.
[Major’s Note: Possibly the best explanation of the Epimenides Paradox can be found in the Pulitzer Prize winning book Goedel, Escher & Bach by Douglas Hoffstader. A possibly better example of its application to real life can be found in the publication Budget 2009 by Alistair Darling].
According to spokesperson Dinah Soares at Labour Central Office, ‘Gordon always wanted to show that he was smarter than Blair. OK, he couldn’t do that with Tony but Eric was a push-over, wasn’t he. And by choosing a European icon like Epimenides Gordon has once again shown his European credentials.’
Commenting for the European Central Bank, Dr. Kuntz Speyer stated, ‘Minister Braun has shown to uz his European papers. Now vee know zat wiv Herr Balls he talk all scheite.’ Not everyone was impressed with Brown’s intellectual breakthrough, however. Nick Griffing of the British Nazi Party commented, ‘Let me put it in black and white terms. All Cretans are niggers. And with a name like Brown he must be black, huh?’
The last word on the subject was had by Jenny Tull of the Cambridge Society of Grecian Formulae who says, ‘If George Orwell was alive today he’d be turning in his grave’.
George Michael was unavailable for comment.
Let me, as a mark of admiration for the Great Broon, be the first to congratulate him on becoming the
Greatest Cretan since Epimenides.