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What is a catch 22?

It sounds like something that is impossible, but I'm not sure. I hear people say this all the time, but I don't want to seem like I'm stupid by asking them.

4547 day(s) ago

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You are partially correct. A Catch-22 is an impossible scenario, but the impossibility of it is in that the scenario contradicts itself or is dependent on illogical conditions. It is also one of the most common terms to come from a literary novel in American English. Catch-22 is the name of a book about World War II bomber pilots by Joseph Heller, and it is the common name of a fictional military rule in the book.

Although the book is filled with various Catch-22 scenarios, the military rule in the book by that name is one that states that anyone who is concerned for their own safety when facing real life-threatening danger is thinking rationally. This rule was made to prevent people from getting out of combat be declaring insanity.

In the book, rules are laid out that state if a pilot is declared insane, he no longer has to fly dangerous missions, but for this to occur the pilot must ask to be grounded. Because of Catch-22, however, as soon as a pilot asks to be grounded from a dangerous mission, it makes him instantly sane, so he canít be grounded.

Later, Catch-22 is revealed to be non-existent, but this only completes a sort of meta-Catch-22 in which the rule cannot be refuted for non-existence because if it doesnít exist, thereís no way to prove it isnít real.

I understand this can get confusing, but that is, basically, the point of Hellerís book: we live in a crazy world, and if you try to act logically, you eventually run into a catch.

Catch-22, first published in 1961, went on to become a classic, and the phrase became increasingly popular with soldiers in the Vietnam War who would use it when talking about a no-win combat situation. The book was turned into a movie in 1970, and after this the phrase became so widely used that many people know what it means but do not know its origin.

Several real-life instances of the Catch-22 appear in the modern world. Here are a few:

ē Many employers wonít hire people in a particular field without experience in the field. However, a person canít get experience in the field because no one will hire him or her.
ē People are afraid of buying electric cars because of the lack of charging stations. However, charging stations are not being constructed because there are not enough electric cars.
ē The economy is expected to improve when people start spending more money, but no one wants to spend more money until the economy improves.

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