In 1931, the mathematician Kurt Goedel showed that for any consistent formal system of logic of logic (of at least a certain degree of complexity), there will always be some true statements that cannot be proved, and some false statements that cannot be disproved within the system. No matter how many axioms you add to the system, there will still be statements that cannot be proved or disproved within it.
I was reminded of Goedel’s Theorem by some of the more far-out accusations of racism, sexism, etc that have been made against individuals lately, and was thinking that there should be an analogous theorem: No matter how an individual chooses to act and speak in a way that will shield him from accusations of X-ism, there will always be a way that someone can build a case that he is in fact an X-ist.
But before I could post about that extension to the theorem, along comes this post by a physician, talking about some of the ways his patients have managed to misinterpret the instructions for using birth control pills–leading to a need to specify more and more detail when giving such instructions.
But adding more detail probably like adding more axioms to one of Goedel’s formal systems…so the additional analogous theorem is: No matter how detailed the instructions for doing something may be, there will always be a way for someone to interpret them incorrectly.