Paradoxes as a testing excersize?

I had a friend ask an interesting question.  I wanted to share my initial response to his question as an excersize for anyone else that wants to take the same challenge.  I see several flaws in my logic that could be cleaned up, but I like the rawness of my initial thought process.  Please share your own responses in the comments.  I would love to hear some feedback.

This question leads me to some very interesting thoughts on how we can use dilemmas like this to teach a path to asking questions and teaching new testers to dig a bit deeper.  I like this idea, I will have to use it.

My conversation with a friend:

Friend: q for you…. what would happen if Pinoccio said “My nose will grow now”?

wadewachs: it would not grow
that is different from saying ‘my nose will grow right this second”
there is also the possibility that at the time he is saying it he is a real boy
in which case it wouldn’t matter whether or not he is telling a lie
so we have to assume the puppet pinochio as opposed to the real boy pinochio

Friend:lol

wadewachs: you then also have to define the scenario in which his nose grows
from the story, we understand it to be when he tells a lie
but what is a lie?

Friend: i guess that depends on intent

wadewachs: is it any mis-truth, or is it only when there is intent to mis-guide
so, if you look at his intentions, when he makes the comment ‘my nose will grow’ is he planning on lying in the future
if so, he believes it will grow, and could be argued that is not a lie
however, if he intends to tell the truth for the remainder of the time that he is an enchanted puppet, and he understands that lying is what causes his nose to grow, and he understands lying requires intent to do so, then he creates a bit of a paradox for himself, by lying about his intention not to lie
in which case the nose would grow because of the intent not to lie
did that answer your question?

One Response to this post.

  1. Posted by Rikard Edgren on 09.08.11 at 1:23 pm

    Can’t tell what will happen, but can make some hypothesis depending in the result:
    * If the nose grows, I guess the nose can grow for other causes than lying
    * If the nose doesn’t grow, the algorithm for determining a lie isn’t 100%

    or something went wrong, so regardless of the result, the test should be repeated, both with “identical” settings, and with changed settings (intention, phrasing, conversation partner, volume, speed et.al)

    Good exercise!

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