(quoted from Diabologic)
“Your science of ballistics cannot be advanced after so much neglect.”
"It could never advance,” said Hillder. That’s why we abandoned it. We dropped fiddling around with bows and arrows for the same reason. No initial thrust can outpace a continuous and prolonged one. Thus far and no farther shalt thou go.”
Then he added by way of speculative afterthought, "Anyway, it can be shown that no bullet can overtake a running man.
"Nonsense!” exclaimed Shahding, having once ducked a couple of slugs himself .
"By the time the bullet has reached the man’s point of departure the man has retreated,” said Hillder. "The bullet then has to cover that extra distance but finds the man has retreated farther. It covers that too, only to find that again the man is not there. And so on and so on.”
"The lead is reduced each successive time until it ceases to* exist,” Shahding scoffed.
"Each successive advance occupies a finite length of time no matter how small,” Hillder pointed out. "You cannot divide and subdivide a fraction to produce zero. The series is infinite. An infinite series of finite timeperiods totals an infinite time. Work it out for yourself. The bullet does not hit the man because it cannot get to him.”
The reaction showed that the audience had never encountered this argument before or concocted anything like it of their own accord. None were stupid enough to accept it as serious assertion of fact. All were sufficiently intelligent to recognize it as logical or pseudological denial of something selfevident and demonstrably true. Forthwith they started hunting for the flaw in this alien reasoning, discussing it between themselves so 'noisily that perforce Shahding stood in silence waiting for a break. "I am wondering whether you are a major criminal seeking sanctuary among us. There may be some other reason. Whatever it is, you do not hesitate to betray your own He put on the same smile again. "It would be nice to know why you have been so cooperative.”
"That’s an easy one,” Hillder said, smiling back in a way that Kadina did not like. "You see, I am a consistent liar.” With that, he left his seat and walked boldly to the exit. The guards led him to his cell…
[…]
Bulak looked mournful. "I’m a refugee from the fog.”
"What fog ?”
"The one you’ve spread all over the place.” He rubbed a furcoated ear, examined his fingers, stared at the wall. “The Commission’s main purpose was to determine relative standards of intelligence, to settle the Prime question of whether your kind’s cleverness is less than, greater than or equal to our own. Upon that and that alone depends our reaction to contact with another spaceconqueror.
"I did my best to help, didn’t I?”
"Help?” echoed Bulak as if it were a new and strange word. "Help ? Do you call it that ? The true test should be that of whether your logic has been extended farther than has ours, whether your premises have been developed to more advanced conclusions.
"Well?”
"You ended up by trampling all over the laws of logic. A bullet cannot kill anybody. After three days fifty of them are still arguing about it and this morning one of them proved that a person cannot climb a ladder. Friends have fallen out, relatives are starting to hate the sight of each other. The remaining three hundred and fifty are in little better state.”
"What’s troubling them ?” inquired Hillder with lively interest.
"They are debating veracity with everything but brickbats,” Bulak informed, somewhat as if compelled to mention an obscene subject. "You are a consistent liar. Therefore, the statement itself must be a lie. Therefore, you are not a consistent liar. The conclusion is that you can be a consistent liar only by not being a consistent liar. Yet you cannot be a consistent liar without being consistent.”
"That’s bad,” Hillder sympathized.
"It’s worse,” Bulak gave back. "Because if you really are a consistent liar—which logically is a self contradiction—none, of your evidence is worth a sack of rotten munaseeds. If you have told us the truth all the way through then your final claim to be a liar must also be true. But, if you are a consistent liar, then none of it is true.”
"Take a deep breath,” advised Hillder.
"But,” continued Bulak, taking a deep breath, "since that final statement must be untrue all the rest may be true.” A wild look came into his eyes and he started waving his arms around. "But the claim to consistency makes it impossible for any statement to be assessed as either true or untrue because, on analysis, there is an unresolvable contradiction that—”
"Now, now,” said Hillder, patting his shoulder. "It is only natural that the lower should be confused by the higher. The trouble is that you’ve not yet advanced far enough. Your thinking remains a little primitive.”
