Thanks to Jos (who writes the best blog on the planet about the Racing Rules of Sailing) for drawing our attention to a strange paradox in the Racing Rules.
It's in Rule 18, the Rule that applies at marks, the one that says when you have to give another boat room to round the mark. All racing sailors know the basics of this Rule: you have to give room to a boat clear ahead or inside of you. But Rule 18 is actually quite complicated. It has lots of sections and subsections. Rules mavens can argue for hours about 18.2(b) and 18.3(a). If you like that kind of stuff you will love Jos's blog Look to Windward.
I won't bore you with all the details, so here is a highly summarized version of Rule 18.
18 MARK ROOM
18.1 Rule 18 applies when blah blah blah. It does not apply
(a) in this situation
(b) in some other situation
(c) in yet another situation
(d) or even in this one.
18.2 Blah blah blah
18.3 More blah blah blah
18.4 Yet more blah blah
18.5 Even more blah blah blah.
So Rule 18.1 lays out four situations when Rule 18 does not apply. But if Rule 18 does not apply, then Rule 18.1 (which is part of Rule 18) does not apply either. So Rule 18 does apply. But then Rule 18.1 applies so Rule 18 does not apply....
My head hurts just thinking about it.
It's a typical example of how a statement that references itself can create a logical paradox.
Another example would have been if God had written the Ten Commandments slightly differently on those tablets of stone he gave to Moses. Think about what would happen if He had carved in stone these words...
7.1 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
7.2 Commandment 7 shalt not apply if the woman is really hot and your wife is out of town.
If 7.2 applies then 7 does not apply in which case it's not adultery. But wait, if 7 does not apply then 7.2 does not apply either so 7 does apply. So you're going to hell anyway buddy. Or are you?
All I can say is that God was smarter than the drafters of the Racing Rules of Sailing.