Talk:Intentionally blank page

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Not a Paradox[edit]

The sentence

This page intentionally left blank.

is not a type of liar paradox. It is a sentence that is always false whereever it appears, but it is not a sentence that is both truth and false. (And there is nothing unusual about sentences that are false wherever they appear, most false sentences are like that: "Ronald Reagan was a king of Egypt".)

Also, note that it is not self-contradictory. A self-contradictory sentence is one that asserts both P and Not-P or is equivalent to a sentence that does so. E.g., "Bob is an married bachelor" is equivalent to "Bob is married and Bob is not married." So it is self-contradictory. But "This page is intentionally left blank" is not equivalent to any "P and Not-P" statement. It contradicts the facts of the matter (as all false sentences do) but it does not contradict itself.

It is a comical sentence in that the very act of writing it on a page ensures that it is false, whereas "Ronald Reagan was a king of Egypt" isn't made false by the very act of writing it. Nevertheless, from the standpoint of logic, it is just one more false sentence. It is not really a paradox. --- I agree. Is the reference to Godel supposed to be funny?

"Blank" refers to being blank of any "real content" and not just a sheet of paper devoid of "printing"; therefore it is not a type of liar paradox from that POV. Flipper9 (talk) 16:20, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

---

I disagree. It is a clear liar paradox. If the phrase is printed it therefore exists. And it exists on the page. There is no equivocation about the type of content that is printed in the phrase. This type of phrase is however more unique than the 'king of Egypt' set of phrases because this phrase refers to its own existence as a piece of writing and not to something else.

Adjectives and adverbs are often assumed to be true in English, whereas nouns, direct objects, and verbs are usually habitually more thoroughly questioned, and this might be an example of this.

A 'blank' page generally means that nothing is written on the page. If something is written on the page saying it is blank, then something is written on the page. Therefore it is not blank.

In theory the case could be made that there is an implied 'except for this message' that goes along with the statement. However, if you are talking about the logic of the statement, it is not actually made.

The idea that this could not be a liar's paradox is simply an example of the idea that adjectives are generally assumed to be true in English, regardless of whether they are true or not.

As for the article itself the reference to the joke in 'Examples' and the link to 'Self-reference' seems to me to cover the paradox relatively well.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.206.161.111 (talk)

This comment has been added and deleted by the same IP twice, which I'm guessing is more likely to be someone on a shared computer deleting the other person's contribution, so I'll restore it. (If this is the case, the second user might want to create an account.) --McGeddon (talk) 10:55, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

What about avoiding the possible paradox altogether by writing something like: "This page intentionally left blank, except for this line/these words", or have a page in front of a completely blank page (!) stating "The next page intentionally left blank"? Another way could be to specifically index blank pages in the beginning of books, papers and so on. E.g. "Blank pages at pages 3*, 65* and 120*. * - Due to the nature of the blank pages the page number is not shown on the (blank) page.". I believe this is a serious problem, and should be addressed. --Vedlikeh0ld (talk) 21:10, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

Indulge me for a moment or two. I swear that this is all relevant:
Where I work, we have lots of software documentation that goes back many years. In some instances, it was another contractor entirely who produced it. In those pre-PC days, these things were typed on a typewriter, occasionally updated with white-out and retyping, or even pasted in text or pen strokes. The whole mess was photocopied whenever copies were needed, often on some horrible copy machine that only took one sheet at a time.
To avoid having to change dozens or hundreds of page numbers, you might put page 47.1 between 47 and 48. Or you may have to put a blank page in between two others that should be consecutive. If you simply went from 104 to 106, someone might think they're missing a page that might have been important.
As we have discussed, you're supposed to put one sentence on it, like "This page is intentionally blank," so that nobody thinks that a page just didn't print and thinks they're missing some information.
One document that came into my possession had an intentionally-blank page in it. But said page had the words BLANK PAGE in big, blocky headline-style letters in the middle of the page. The two-word text itself seems to have been awkwardly cut out from another page (with dull scissors) and roughly pasted in with loose corners: the photocopy picked up all of the edges and shadows.
In fact, it looked as if this particular operation had been performed in several past iterations, i.e., the rectangle with the pasted-in text had itself been part of a bigger rectangle that had been excised and grafted, and that particular block had edges that indicated still earlier surgery of a similar type.
Furthermore, it seemed that all four edges of this page had, at various times, been replaced with new strips cut from some clean paper and pasted into place.
On top of being photocopied through many generations, this particular document had been shrunken and stored on microfilm and then blown up and printed on paper from that.
So, in summary, you have a piece of white paper with big bold text in the middle, surrounded by lines, streaks, arcs, curves, angles, smudges, striations, curliqueues, all in varying shades of gray, like a relief map of some mountain range or contours of geological strata. There was very little white space left on the thing. And in the middle, the item screamed at you that it was a BLANK PAGE. It was downright oxymoronic.
I suspect that the particular institution that produced this gem kept a generic BLANK PAGE available for use so that its technical writers wouldn't have to take the effort to type those two words onto a really blank page when they needed one. "Hey, Al, I need to make a copy of The Blank Page. Where is it? You lost it? Darn! I'll see if Ed has a copy of it. Yeah, he does, but it's ripped! I'll fix it and make some copies for all of us."
I put this thing in a frame and displayed it on my wall. The Andy Warhol "Blank Page."
Yeah, I think it's a paradox! WHPratt (talk) 14:35, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Folio[edit]

The correct term for a sheet of paper that has been folded into 2,4,8, etc. is a folio. For example, folded to make 8 pages, it is called an octavo. More commonly, 16mo and 32mo are used in modern printing. linas 16:08, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Sorry, only when folded into two is it a folio. (in four, a quarto). The generic term is signature.linas 16:22, 4 December 2005 (UTC)

Falsified?[edit]

Does a phrase like "This page is blank" necessarily falsify itself by its existence on a page?

  • If it's printed in invisible ink, isn't it somehow true as long as it isn't readable?
  • What if it's projected onto a blank page through shadows and/or mirrors by a conspiracy of its neighboring pages?
  • What if the page is blank and appears blank, but the book is written in a language in which blank space means "This page is blank"?

This is fun. Melchoir 09:14, 5 December 2005 (UTC)

You may have a look at Whitespace (programming language), then :) Comte0 (talk) 23:33, 20 March 2010 (UTC)

Origins[edit]

I've heard many times that the phrase, "This page intentionally left blank" originated in IBM technical documentation. If this can be corroborated, it should go in the article. Better still would be getting a scan of one of the original official blank pages. Victor Lighthill 16:41, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

I've heard that also... AnonMoos (talk) 03:44, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
IBM technical manuals from around 1970 (System 360, for the aging geeks here) would be the earliest I recall seeing this usage. I just looked at three "museum items" I've kept from the mid-1960s (for the 7040/7044), and found no examples. I will keep looking. HiLo48 (talk) 03:55, 22 October 2012 (UTC)

Prcotter (talk) 19:02, 1 July 2017 (UTC) I was an IBM systems programmer in 1973. I distinctly remember "TPHBILB" (or some variation thereof). Most important is the reason. As software was changed the technical manuals had to be updated. The manuals were all loose leaf binders so only the changed pages were sent by IBM. These were manually inserted. If part of a document increased in size then you would receive a new 'old' page plus an extra page that may have only a few lines. The opposite side was TPHBILB'ed. Suppose it was a long section of the document, that might mean that (say) 10 pages may have to be shuffled-up. In these cases IBM sometimes added a page BEFORE the change plus the changed page. I do remember one manual (but not which one) where a change at the end of section x was followed by a change in section x+1. This left two contiguous blank pages. Some IBMer with a sense of humour had one page set with "The page opposite has been left intentionally blank". I don't trust myself to do edits, but if there's anything in this comment that can be used please do so.

Blank section[edit]

A blank section is not a good idea to put in the article. It does not demonstrate any of the reasons why intentionally blank pages are used, and is not in itself an intentionally blank page anyway. The images are enough demonstration and example. Dysprosia 23:23, 8 December 2005 (UTC)

Although the article is called "Intentionally blank page", the content doesn't have to be restricted solely to entire pages that are blank, such as the use in the Zork game: "This space intentionally left blank." I'm not sure whether the section should stay, although in other articles we have similar written examples. This one just looks stranger than the rest. Maybe put it inside PRE tags, so that it's blocked off from the rest? — BRIAN0918 • 2005-12-8 23:31
I'm sorry, but I had to remove this. This is so incredibly pointless. "We can do this, therefore we should". Wikipedia:Avoid self-references. It's like inserting "fnord" after every sentence in fnord. If someone really feels this absolutely must be in the article before we can call it complete, fine, go ahead, I won't revert it. But I'm going to wince every time I see it. JRM · Talk 00:14, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, but that "Avoid self references" has nothing to do with this. That guideline is about avoiding references to Wikipedia itself. Should we also get rid of the first example block at ASCII art? — BRIAN0918 • 2005-12-9 00:58
No, since the ASCII art does not refer to Wikipedia in any way. Sections that talk about "this section" do. JRM · Talk 01:04, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
But it's in the very nature of the subject itself to be self-referential. An example cannot be made that isn't self-referential. The main problem with not referencing Wikipedia is so that the content will look alright on mirror sites, which this would. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-12-9 01:14
The non-main problem (also mentioned) is that it looks unprofessional, but one cannot argue about matters of taste. The main example would be for this page to be intentionally left blank, which we can't do for obvious reasons.
An example can certainly be made that's not self-referential. The article contains several, in fact. You can't escape a self-referential example in self-reference because people would be shocked and disappointed to see such cleverness omitted from the encyclopedia. But is there anyone who believes readers will be serviced by an intentionally blank section, or is this one of those "too cute to leave out" things again? I know it's futile to stand in the way of those, but I still feel compelled to try. JRM · Talk 01:36, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Well, besides the point mentioned above (blind people can't easily read pictures), the example shows how easily such a self-refuting, meta-reference can be made, and how it can be applied to other "regions" besides pages. That's why I put it under the "variations" section. I don't see any reason it can't exist, but once better/more pictures are found for the article, then I would be fine with removing it. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-12-9 01:41
Whether you're blind or not, you have to be gifted with a remarkably small and ineffective imagination to not understand the concept of such pages (including the futility of an explicit notice) from the description—the added value is dubious. Actual examples that illustrate where this is used in real life (whether visible or not) are valuable, but an artificial example we think up ourselves (not as a simplification or as an instance of a general problem) is dubious. Have you ever heard of or seen an "intentionally blank section" other than in this article? The Zork mention hardly counts, since it amuses by being deliberately incongruous.
I don't see any reason it can't exist either, other than that I personally dislike it, which is a poor justification against anything. On the other hand, I'm having a hard time imagining a use for it, too. JRM · Talk 01:53, 9 December 2005 (UTC)
Blind people can't read non-Braille books either. Let's run with the argument. Suppose a blind person uses a text-to-speech reader for this page. They have already read the common version of the "this page..." text above, so why do we have to repeat it? Why not use alt texts for the images? Furthermore, for the majority of users, the section looks ridiculous. So the section is redundant in the least amount of cases and looks silly for the rest. We should act with a bit of professionalism. Dysprosia 03:29, 10 December 2005 (UTC)


comment on the notion that "this page intentionally left blank" is self-refuting[edit]

i'd like to request others opinions on this matter.

it seems to me that the common-sense interpretation of "this page intentionally left blank" is to insert an implied word: "this page intentionally left OTHERWISE blank." where the article says:

Printing "this page intentionally left blank" on a page is self-refuting, since a blank page cannot have any writing. Some organizations, such as the College Board, have realized this and changed the blank page notice; for example, on the SAT exams, the message now reads, "No test content on this page."

it implies that organizations other than the college board are idiots for printing an "obviously" self-refuting statement. IMHO, the original usage (with a dose of common sense) is more appropriate. could the wording of the article be changed to reflect this?

Lunch 21:28, 8 April 2006 (UTC)

it implies that organizations other than the college board are idiots for printing an "obviously" self-refuting statement. Not at all; that's what you make of it. The statement is obviously self-refuting, just as it obviously conveys the idea that the page was intentionally left blank except for the sentence that conveys it was intentionally left blank.
The College Board (and possibly others) changed the wording to prevent the distraction of a statement that, literally taken, refutes itself, even if it also has a non-trivial meaning (in contrast to sentences like "this sentence does not contain the letter 'e'", which do not convey anything useful). You can certainly argue it's not necessary to do this, since readers will know what is meant in either case, but it does simplify matters somewhat.
The current revision of the article reads "have avoided this problem" rather than "have realized this", which should take away any objection over implying foolishness. It is a problem to have a sentence which distracts the reader with its form, even if it's a very minor problem in this case. 82.92.119.11 15:09, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. Yeah, I like the change to "avoided this problem". I didn't realize that change had been made. ;)
You mention that the statement when read literally is self-refuting. Mind if insert the phrase "if read literally" so that the paragraph says, "Printing "this page intentionally left blank" on a page is self-refuting if taken literally since a blank page cannot have any writing. Some organizations, such as the College Board, have avoided this problem by changing the notice; for example, on the SAT exams, the message now reads, "No test content on this page.""
Lunch 15:44, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
I think nobody could object to such an addition, if you feel it's necessary. If someone does object, you'll notice. :-) 82.92.119.11 17:25, 22 April 2006 (UTC)

Is “This page intentionally left blank” missing a verb?[edit]

What is the origin of the above sentence? In which cases is it written with a verb like “is” or “has been” before the “intentionally”? --RolandIllig 07:22, 24 July 2006 (UTC)

So? One can often make sentences shorter by leaving parts out. "Story currently closed" doesn't have a finite verb, either... —Nightstallion (?) 09:28, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
I would say, the sentence violates the basic rules of semantics. I consider this an important point to note for anyone, or are you targetting in changing semantic rules? --Alexander.stohr 16:44, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

stripped parts[edit]

 +==Variations== 
 + A Google search from summer 2006 reveals this: 
 + * This page has been intentionally left blank: abt. 70.000 hits 
 + * This page is intentionally left blank: abt. 500.000 hits 
 + * This page intentionally left blank: abt. 1.690.000 hits 
 + * intentionally left blank: abt. 3.820.000 hits 
 + Other variations might exist. 
 +  
 + ==Substitutes== 

Without discussion those paragraphs were removed. As a reason it was stated that this contribution has no source and is irrelevant. I would call it valid statistics data about the current real world usage of the phrases in questions and further a listing of the forms those phrase is used. For me Wikipedia is always a melting pot where quality meets information. You cant reach quality of an article without getting all major parts of information on the topic. Documenting nowadays use of some wording is as essential as e.g. listing the number of inhabitants for New York. --Alexander.stohr 16:44, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

  • It's original research. Find a reliable source that lists this data. That's how content is added to articles. I would still argue that this content is irrelevant. We don't list Google searches in other Wikipedia articles. — BRIAN0918 • 2006-08-20 17:55
Whats the difference between refering to information of a bunch of third party web pages and the refering to a bunch of web pages created by a bunch of keywords feed to the google search engine? the information was there, just in a more or less obscure way. isnt't that called research when you dig a library for information? so if google is not considred a part of a library (it's index) why should any other internet based information being considered as beeing part of something like a library. you can even pay the staff of a library or other people to "research" the existance of information and do a report for you. with this they will do categorisation, selection and summarisation for you. in contrast to this scientific research is about doing your own experiments with the real world, an possibly not with man made goods. scientific research includes a thesis and most often something not yet understood but deviating from the previous predictions. in engineering there is something like reverse engineering that is dealing with something complext but then beeing probed, inspected, metered and even dismounted. is used statistics in this case something that qualifies as scientific metering? where is the difference between valid literature research as regularily used for wikipedia and invalid scientific "metering" research. What if i just make a web page out of the data above, writing a PD license below the values and only afterwards copying this values into wikipedia? Man, the information is already there. The extra value is just done by composing a set of related values into a listing or a table inside the wikipedia. creating ordered structures and collecting related data is a quite common doing for nearly any article in the wikipedia. so where does "legal" information collection end and where does "illegal" research start? --Alexander.stohr (talk) 12:55, 29 December 2007 (UTC)
There is a problem with the article, and the removed Google hits show it. Repeating the searches today, ghits:

"page intentionally left blank" 2,490,000 "this page intentionally left blank" 564,000 "this page is intentionally left blank" 104,000 "This page has been intentionally left blank" 101,000 "this page was intentionally left blank" 15,500

The most common form, by far, has no verb. The introduction states: "The phrase is a self-refuting meta-reference, in that it falsifies itself by its very existence on the page in question." I added a citation needed tag, but, in fact, the comment is simply incorrect, for most "intentionally blank" pages, because the statement does not refer to the present condition of the page, but to the lack of normal content prior to the placing of the notice, which is indeed metacontent. Such pages also may contain -- will often contain, in my experience -- page numbers, another kind of metacontent. The error arises, to some degree, if the present tense is used, because the metacontent then contradicts itself. But without the verb, or if some form of past tense is used, there is no contradiction at all. Further, even if the present tense is used, the statement is simply glossed with an understood "Except for this notice and the page number...." But it still makes for great fun and a nice trap for pendants. --Abd (talk) 02:10, 25 July 2008 (UTC)

Wouldn't that be "pedants" ? Oh, wait...would that make me one? Or were you talking about things that hang down? Caisson_06 — Preceding unsigned comment added by 132.79.10.15 (talk) 22:26, 11 March 2013 (UTC)

Supposed kickstart for vandalism[edit]

Hey on 7chan http://img.7chan.org/i/res/22876.html people link to this page and say "It's not actually blank. Fix it /i/." So keep watch for vandalism. Anomo 23:47, 16 October 2006 (UTC)

Tristram Shandy[edit]

The novel Tristram Shandy by Laurence Sterne might have been the first sample of intentionally blank pages used for humor. There are two variations on it, IIRC (don't have the book at hand); a sequence of blank and black pages, and later on a gap in the page numbering, followed by an explanation of why the previous several pages had to be omitted. --Jim Henry 19:34, 23 October 2006 (UTC)

Wikipedia's own 'intentionally blank page'[edit]

Should we include a link to Special:BlankPage in the Examples section? ;P — œ 20:52, 16 August 2009 (UTC)

Potential source[edit]

I found this. Not sure how helpful it is because I can see only the first page.

"The Historical Development of the Title Page" by Garold Cole in The Journal of Library History (1966-1972), Vol. 6, No. 4 (Oct., 1971), pp. 303-316, JSTOR

It may have some useful discussion of the history of intentionally blank pages. —Tom Morris (talk) 22:20, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

I added a few relatively recent sources about the topic. A lot of material has been deleted from this article in the past, because it lacked sources or for other reasons; I suspect that some of that material, if it can be properly sourced, might provide a basis to get started on the rebuilding of this article. --Arxiloxos (talk) 22:51, 12 April 2011 (UTC)

Notability[edit]

Is the story about the German student sufficiently notable for inclusion in Wikipedia? Crasshopper (talk) 05:29, 24 April 2011 (UTC)

External link[edit]

I think this should be included: http://www.this-page-intentionally-left-blank.org/ 84.247.22.116 (talk) 12:54, 14 September 2011 (UTC)

current image[edit]

The current image confounds "intentionally" with, if you will, "nominally", i.e., according to the rule of page folding.

Given this, I have added the appropriate SEE ALSO for the latter.

For "as expected", NASA uses "nominal".

G. Robert Shiplett 12:59, 4 November 2012 (UTC)

Quire[edit]

Does wikipedia have no entry for "quire" ? G. Robert Shiplett 09:31, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

If you type "quire" in the search box you get taken to the quire disambiguation page, which then links to (amongst other things) Units_of_paper_quantity#Quire. So there's not a full article on it, just a section of the "Units of paper quantity" article. --McGeddon (talk) 10:06, 5 November 2012 (UTC)

The Book of the Book[edit]

Author Idries Shah, distrusting critics' reviews of his books, wrote The Book of the Book,[1] which consists of sixteen written pages of reviews of itself. The rest of the book is intentionally filled with about 140 blank pages to give the appearance of a normal book.[verification needed]

This is incorrect. The 16 pages contain a short story about a thick book of supposed wisdom, containing a single sentence and a vast number of blank pages. I guess it's still a relevant example, but I gave up trying to reword it into something resembling the truth, so deleted it and stuck it here in case anyone cares. 86.169.101.134 (talk) 20:22, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

derp, forgot google books link. You can see for yourself. http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=WviNfB2q_oEC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false 86.169.101.134 (talk) 20:23, 8 July 2013 (UTC)

For Your Consideration[edit]

Possible addition offered for consideration:

A book was once published in German with the title Advice to Spectators at Chess Tournaments. All the pages, with one exception were completely blank. On this page there were only two words, "Halt's Maul!" which means "Keep your mouth shut!"

-- Chernev, Irving and Reinfeld, Fred, The Fireside Book of Chess, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1949, p 73. (In their "Odd, But True" chapter. It probably appeared first in Chess Review, which appears to be thye source for many of their anecdotes.)

WHPratt (talk) 14:26, 12 December 2013 (UTC)

Some (obviously unreliable) sources made this a three-hundred pages book, but in reality, "Spielregeln für Nicht-Mitspieler" was just a pamphlet by Adolf Roegner (Leipzig) in 1885 (14th edition), first mentioned in August 1880. It consisted of just the covers and a single sheet (2 leaves) of paper inside. 8 sides in total, of which 4 were blank. Background including some scans:
http://web.archive.org/web/20160309220345/http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/extra/roegner.html
--Matthiaspaul (talk) 18:28, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
Well, Chernev and Reinfeld didn't inflate the number of pages, so their description is correct, although the truth is somewhat disappointing. WHPratt (talk) 20:47, 26 March 2016 (UTC)
However, I see your point: that's hardly enough of a mostly-blank book to qualify, once the facts are in. WHPratt (talk) 23:22, 28 March 2016 (UTC)

Criticisms[edit]

Has their been any consideration of criticisms for blank pages causing wasted material. 198.58.64.1 (talk) 21:29, 1 March 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ Shah, Idries (1969). The Book of the Book. Octagon. ISBN 0-900860-12-X.