Inconsistent Propositions


It was said that when mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) was at a dinner party, he stated that “it is useless talking about inconsistent things, from an inconsistent proposition you can prove anything you like.” This can be illustrated using mathematical methodologies as simple as algebra. However, Russell was too good for just using petty algebra tricks.

Thus, when someone exclaimed, “Yeah, right. Can you prove it?”

Russell replied, “Name an inconsistent proposition.”

“All right, how about 2 = 1?” the man said.

“That’s good enough,” Russell remarked, “what do you want me to prove?”

“I want you to prove that you are the pope,” the man challenged.

“That’s easy,” Russell said, “the pope and I are two, but two equals one, therefore, the pope and I are one.”


About Edmark M. Law

My name Edmark M. Law. I work as a freelance writer, mainly writing about science and mathematics. I am an ardent hobbyist. I like to read, solve puzzles, play chess, make origami and play basketball. In addition, I dabble in magic, particularly card magic and other sleight-of-hand type magic. I live in Hong Kong. I blog at You can find me on Twitter @EdmarkLaw and Facebook. My email is
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15 Responses to Inconsistent Propositions

  1. Very, very clever!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. V.M.Sang says:

    He was a very clever man. I would hate to have had an argument with him.
    Love this one, though.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jack Shalom says:

    Prove: I am a better logician than Bertrand Russell.
    Proof: No brain can out-think Russell; I have some brains. Therefore I can out-think Russell.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Garfield Hug says:

    Or maybe I read his books in my undergraduate studies 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Garfield Hug says:

    Witty indeed! I cannot remember where I have heard the name Bertrand Russell before. I feel as if he was one of my professors at University of Oregon🤔

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thunder Poet says:

    Ahahahahhaa. Too good. XD

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Deb Whittam says:

    That’s clever – I know what I would have said in respose ☺

    Liked by 1 person

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