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willbrawn's avatar

Is there a question that is un-answerable?

Asked by willbrawn (6614points) October 6th, 2008 from iPhone
Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

40 Answers

shilolo's avatar

Yes. Patting myself on the back, softly

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Yes, the classic example is asking “When did you stop beating your wife?” to a person who has never beaten his wife. He can say, “I don’t” or “I didn’t,” or “I haven’t” (my personal favorite), but it’s not really answering the question.

arnbev959's avatar

Yes. That’s what philosophers are for.

squirbel's avatar

Fark! Fireside beat me to it.


Bioplasmic's avatar

Ask your cat how it feels today?
How far can one travel in a straight line in space?
Where did we come from?
Why are we here?
Were we created?
If we were created what created the creator?
Can one add a number to infinity?
If you shine a light in a box made of mirrors, will it bounce around until you open the box?

fireside's avatar

How do you know that you really know what you pretend to know?


sorry squirbel

finkelitis's avatar

You can always answer—the question is, can you answer satisfactorily? There’s a branch of mathematics that’s devoted to self-referential questions, which are impossible to answer truthfully. An example would be

“is the statement ‘this statement is false.’ true or false?”

You can answer this, but any true or false answer will not be accurate.

Bioplasmic's avatar

“All Cretins are liars”
Empodaclese the Cretin.

Is he telling the truth?


brownlemur's avatar

@Bioplasmic – Is that a line from Godel, Escher, Bach?

fireside's avatar

@Bioplasmic – that last one is a toughy

squirbel's avatar

“All Cretins are liars”
Empodaclese the Cretin.
Is he telling the truth?

If a Cretin says “All Cretins are liars”, he is a liar, because no generalization is true.
Because generalizations are never true, he is also telling the truth.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Marina, I would say that just because you’re saying something to the person right after they ask the question, “responding” doesn’t mean you’re “answering” the question, but it’s a semantic issue, really…

Bri_L's avatar

isn’t every question answerable? Now wether or not the answer can be determined as right wrong or what have you well I am not sure.

Bioplasmic's avatar

In Douglas Adam’s wonderful book The Hitchikers guide to the Galaxy the Super Computer Deep Thought answered the Ultimate Question….......the answer was 43.

Leaving us pondering what the ultimate question might be.

Could willbrawn have found the ultimate question?

squirbel's avatar

Actually, the answer was 42.

AstroChuck's avatar

What about this question?

squirbel's avatar


Questions met with questions breed confusion and disarray.

That is my answer. :)

battlemarz's avatar

Every question is definitely answerable. Whether or not that answer is correct or makes sense is another story.

JackAdams's avatar

Any question asked on this website that has ZERO ANSWERS, can be consider such a question.

AstroChuck's avatar

If a question is asked in the woods and no one is there to answer it, does it have an answer?

JackAdams's avatar

EDIT: In my previous post consider = considered

Apologies for my error.

St.George's avatar

43 is the Masonic bus.

Bri_L's avatar

@battle – great minds think alike. See my answer above.

loser's avatar

What is the sound of one hand clapping?

La_chica_gomela's avatar

loser, i disagree, if you were here, i would make the sound, but you’re not. so you have to trust me. lol.

augustlan's avatar

@LaChica: Is Marina even on this thread? I’m confused…

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Augustlan, now I’m confused.
Why would she be?

augustlan's avatar

@LaChica: Look up. Silly :)

AstroChuck's avatar

I thought that finkelitis was Marina too.

augustlan's avatar

Too many similar icons! Marina’s is smaller, but I get duped by the big orange one too.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

Hahahahaa, yeah, that was actually finkelitis. They’re both bluish. Hahahahahaha.

jvgr's avatar

It depends on what you mean by “answer”

LostInParadise's avatar

There is a school of thought that says that if by its very nature a question is unanswerable then the question is meaningless. Some would say that by this criterion the question, “Do I see the color green differently from you”, is meaningless. Personally, I think this is a bit extreme.

There are some unanswerable questions that arise from mathematical paradoxes. For example, Bertrand Russell’s paradox. Consider the set of all sets that are members of themselves. For example the set of all sets is a set and so is a member of itself. Now what about the set of all sets that are not members of themselves. Is it a member of itself? If you think about this for a moment you will see that you get a contradiction either way.

Another math paradox is to consider the smallest number that requires more than twenty-five words to describe. Surely such a number must exist. However, if it does, then it can be described as “the smallest number that requires more than twenty-five words to describe”, which is obviously fewer than 25 words.

deaddolly's avatar

Yes. Some are so deep, I have trouble getting my mind to get a coherent answer. Then there are the questions like: Why do girls give Blowjobs? Those are just stupid, they make me chuckle. Any response seems even more assinine!

goober's avatar

How long is a piece of string?

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

rather than asking if a question is unanswerable, you should be answering really mundane questions with gibberish answers. Case in Point: Q: Why is the sky blue?” A: Because the garden gnome ate the last three Oreo cookies.

YARNLADY's avatar

Semantically speaking “answer” = “discuss” so my answer is no.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

To ask what is before the Big Bang that is a question that has no answer. However people try as they may to concoct an answer and ramrod it as a de facto truth based off what they can see, hear, measure, touch, smell, or weight. It is as if they are afraid to fathom that maybe what they see or know is far from complete. Where morality came from is another question no one can seem to answer, so there are many unanswerable questions.

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