Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


The Wish List Paradox

A little known aspect of quantum electrodynamics is the Wish List paradox. It goes way deeper than Schrodinger's cat, which suggests that reality isn't real until it is observed, and states that once a quantity is assigned to a variable, it immediately assumes any value other than the named value. For example, under the Wish List Paradox, as soon as I assign the value "5" to variable x by saying "x=5," the actual value of x will be the set of all real numbers other than 5. It could be 6, or 3, or 8.1437.

Anything but 5.

I discovered this paradox by observing the results of my Christmas lists over the last 4 decades. I noticed early on that the things on my list never showed up as Christmas gifts, particularly where my former wife was concerned. At the time, I thought it was just further evidence of her future future status as former, and wrote it off, but I now know that she was constrained by the principles of the Wish List Paradox.

While the implications of the paradox are mind bogglingly complex, the way it works is actually quite simple.

1) When asked, I create a list of things I'd like to get for Christmas.
2) In the time between the generation of the list and Christmas, I am not allowed to purchase any of the items on the list, because she might want to buy it for me.
3) However, she won't buy anything on the list because then I wouldn't be surprised.

If I create a list of things I want for Christmas, I am guaranteed not to get the things on that list, thus fulfilling the Wish List Paradox.

Unfortunately, this process is not reciprocal. In other words, if I list things I don't want, like a life time supply of broccoli or a chartreuse turtleneck sweater made from yak, the Universal Law of Male Gift Suckage, the one that fathers everywhere know as the "Tie for Father's Day," trumps the Wish List Paradox, and I'll be clothed in yellow green yak fur and enveloped in a cloud of broccoli farts.

You don't want to mess with the laws of nature my friends.
Posted by Rich
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