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Analysing a Quote

21 December 2018


In this blog post, we will take a look at the following quote:

Life is paradoxically coincidental to the ironical tyranny applicable to the unparalleled definition of reverse entropy

Picture of the quote Life is paradoxically coincidental

Picture of the quote Life is paradoxically coincidental

We will try to find out where it comes from, what it actually means, and try to find out, whether there is any truth to it (although this more opinion-based, obviously). This quote is, of course, already quite widely discussed on the internet, but, ultimately, does that really matter?

So, without further a do, let's get started.

Where and who this quote comes from

I encountered this quote many years ago, on some wallpaper search app. It immediately caught my attention as it is still rare to find such a weird, strange and somewhat misleading mix of words.

A reddit user claims this quote to be by the English author, and (!) satirist Douglas Adams, but I couldn't confirm this. However, the shadow of parodical intent cannot be denied, at least in my opinion.

Some claim, that is quote is from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

This quote also comes up very frequently with the number 42, but that just appears to be another Douglas Adams thing.

So, let's see what it actually means, let's digest and analyse it!

Analysing the Quote

First of all, let's the see this quote again:

Life is paradoxically coincidental to the ironical tyranny applicable to the unparalleled definition of reverse entropy.

We directly notice, that this quote is full of words, that mislead us. We can get rid of them, without drastically changing the meaning of the quote:

Life is ~~paradoxically~~ coincidental to the ~~ironical tyranny applicable to the unparalleled~~ definition of reverse entropy.

The words that have been removed are just meant as a fancy exaggeration:

  • Paradoxically: That goes without saying:)
  • ironical tyranny: There is absolutely no tyranny, even in this existential formulation
  • unparalleled: This is actually very funny, if we actually take a look at the definition of reverse entropy:)

Hence, this is very clearly satire!

But what does the rest actually mean?

The meaning

The quote we are left with, after filtering is this:

Life is coincidental to the definition of reverse entropy.

Now, we just have to understand, what "reverse entropy" actually means.

If entropy according to wikipedia depicts the degree of disorder or randomness in a system, or, in other words, gradual decline into disorder, the term reverse entropy just means the opposite: From chaos to order! (put into very simple terms)

To sum up, this quote basically says, that if the universe would develop (or better regress) from chaos to order, life would be just a coincidence. But, as we know, according to Albert Einstein, this is (very fortunately, by the way) not the case.

Hence, this quote, according to this interpretation, does make very little sense.


But what if I am wrong? What if this quote actually depicts the general unlikelihood of life itself existing?

Philosophical afterthoughts

If that's the case, this quote would indeed make sense.

Then it would mean, that throughout the fastness of the universe, the chance, that life would exist, is so incredibly small (statistically), that it could be the case, that life is not a coincidence. And that's deep, isn't it?

But I really don't want to touch the subject Creationists vs Darwinist, so we'll leave it here.