skeptical quotes
My Quotation Collection
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It is crucial to the public's intellectual health to know when science really is science.

Amanda Gefter (2009)

I want you to have all the academic freedom you want as long as you wind up saying the bible account (of creation) is true and all others are not.

Jerry Falwell (1979)

The god who is reputed to have created fleas to keep dogs from moping over their situation must also have created fundamentalists to keep rationalists from getting flabby. Let us be thankful for our blessings.
Garret Hardin

If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts: but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.

Francis Bacon

Creationists use facts the same way a drunk uses a lightpost: for support instead of illumination

Robert Ingersoll

It has often and confidently been asserted, that man's origin can never be known; but ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge; it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Charles Darwin

However much the creationist leaders might hammer away at their scientific and philosophical points, they would be helpless and a laughing-stock if that were all they had. It is religion that recruits their squadrons. Tens of millions of Americans, who neither know nor understand the actual arguments for - of even against - evolution, march in the army of the night, their Bibles held high. And they are a strong and frightening force, impervious to, and immunized against, the feeble lance of mere reason.
Isaac Asimov (1981)

The final and conclusive evidence against evolution is the fact that the Bible denies it.
Henry Morris

Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn.
St. Augustine

You don't protect any of your individual liberties by lying down and going to sleep.
John Scopes

The main conclusion arrived at in my work, namely, that man is descended from some lowly organized form, will, I regret to think, be highly distasteful to many. But there can hardly be a doubt that we are descended from barbarians.

Charles Darwin

May the son of Charles Darwin send you one word of warm encouragement. To state that which is true cannot be irreligious.

Leonard Darwin (letter to John Scopes)

If the Bible and the microscope do not agree, the microscope is wrong
William Jennings Bryan (1925)

Scientific creationism may be poor science, but it is powerful politics. And politically, it may succeed.

Laurie Godfrey (1981)

Evolution is a laughing matter for anybody that's got a rational mind.
Merle Haggard, 1990

He is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.

George Bernard Shaw

Theology is the effort to explain the unknowable in terms of the not worth knowing.
HL Mencken

I contend that we are both atheists, I just believe in one less god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all other possible gods, then you will know why I dismiss yours.
Stephen F. Roberts

Blake expressed some doubt as to whether God had made the tiger. But the tiger is in many ways an admirable animal. We have now to ask if God made the tapeworm. And it is questionable whether an affirmative answer fits in either with what we know about the process of evolution or what many of us believe about the moral perfection of God.

JBS Haldane (1932)

The basic idea of Western science is that you don't have to take into account the falling of a leaf on some planet in another galaxy when you're trying to account for the motion of a billiard ball on a pool table on earth. Very small influences can be neglected. There's a convergence in the way things work, and arbitrarily small influences don't blow up to have arbitrarily large effects.

James Gleick (1987)

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair

Necessity is an interpretation, not a fact.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Theories have four stages of acceptance: i) this is worthless nonsense; ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; iii) this is true, but quite unimportant; iv) I always said so.
JBS Haldane, 1963


Doubt everything or believe everything: these are two equally convenient strategies. With either we dispense with the need for reflection.

Henri Poincare

The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.

Mark Twain

Man's greatest asset is the unsettled mind.
Isaac Asimov

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.

Albert Szent-Gyoergi

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
Albert Einstein

Everyone takes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world.
Arthur Schopenhauer

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.

Galileo Galilei

The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best -- and therefore never scrutinize or question.

Stephen Jay Gould

The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.

Mark Twain

A danger sign of the lapse from true skepticism into dogmatism is an inability to respect those who disagree.

Dr. Leonard George

In philosophical discussion, the merest hint of dogmatic certainty as to finality of statement is an exhibition of folly.

Alfred North Whitehead

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that principle is contempt prior to investigation.

Herbert Spencer

As long as we do science, some things will always remain unexplained.
Fritjof Capra

One thing I have learned in a long life: that all our science, measured against reality, is primitive and childlike - and yet it is the most precious thing we have.

Albert Einstein

Name the greatest of all the inventors. Accident.
Mark Twain

The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.
Frank Herbert

Let the mind be enlarged... to the grandeur of the mysteries, and not the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind.

Francis Bacon

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.
Aristotle

Science for me is very close to art. Scientific discovery is an irrational act. It's an intuition which turns out to be reality at the end of it --and I see no difference between a scientist developing a marvellous discovery and an artist making a painting.

C. Rubbia, Nobelist and director of CERN

It is through science that we prove, but through intuition that we discover.
H. Poincare

The person who thinks there can be any real conflict between science and religion must be either very young in science or very ignorant of religion.

Joseph Henry

Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.
Carl Sagan

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

Max Planck

If the man doesn't believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean, it does nowadays, because now we can't burn him.

Mark Twain

The common idea that scientists reject a theory as soon as it leads to a contradiction is just not so. When they get something that works at all they plunge ahead with it and ignore its weak spots... scientists are just as bad as the rest of the public in following fads and being influenced by mass enthusiasm.

Vannevar Bush

One could not be a successful scientist without realizing that, in contrast to the popular conception supported by newspapers and mothers of scientists, a goodly number of scientists are not only narrow-minded and dull, but also just stupid.
James D. Watson

Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are that good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats.
Howard Aiken

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
William James

If you make people think they're thinking, they'll love you; but if you really make them think they'll hate you.

Don Marquis

The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing -- to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts. Not a select party.

John Keats

There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough.

William James

Never attribute to conspiracy that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

paraphrase of Hanlon's Razor (fm R. Heinlein)

Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence.
Napoleon

A witty saying proves nothing.
Voltaire

Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without any proof.
Ashley Montague

Orgel's Second Rule: Evolution is cleverer than you are.
Francis Crick

The Creator, if He exists, has an inordinate fondness for beetles.
JBS Haldane

Einstein - the greatest Jew since Jesus. I have no doubt that Einstein's name will still be remembered and revered when Lloyd George, Foch and William Hohenzollern share with Charlie Chaplin that ineluctable oblivion which awaits the uncreative mind.

JBS Haldane

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.
Ralph W. Emerson

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

Richard P. Feynman

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that ever word tell.

W. Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

Albert Einstein

If I were going to construct a God I would furnish him with some ways and qualities and characteristics which the Present One lacks... He would spend some of His eternities in trying to forgive Himself for making man unhappy when He could have made him happy with the same effort and He would spend the rest of them in studying astronomy.

Mark Twain

In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.

Mark Twain, autobiography

We all do no end of feeling and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a boon. Its name is public opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God.

Mark Twain

In Boston, they ask How much does he know? in New York, How much is he worth? in Philadelphia, Who were his parents? And when an alien observer turns the telescope upon us--advertisedly in our own special interest--a natural apprehension moves us to ask, What is the diameter of his reflector.

Mark Twain

It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.

Mark Twain

Rats and roaches live by competition under the laws of supply and demand. It is the privilege of human beings to live under the laws of justice and mercy.

Wendell Berry

He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.

Chinese Proverb

Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.
Confucius

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion but not his own facts.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
Aldous Huxley

I would defend the liberty of consenting adult creationists to practise whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent.

Arthur C. Clarke

Now please state the scientific theory of creationism.
Dr. Pepper's imperative

It is a universal condition of the enjoyable that the mind must believe in the existence of a law, and yet have a mystery to move about in.

James Clerk Maxwell

The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or in politics, but it is not the path to knowledge, and there's no place for it in the endeavor of science. We do not know beforehand where fundamental insights will arise from about our mysterious and lovely solar system. The history of our study of our solar system shows us clearly that accepted and conventional ideas are often wrong, and that fundamental insights can arise from the most unexpected sources.

-- Carl Sagan, Cosmos television series, quoted from The Carl Sagan Electronic Monument

You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe.

-- Carl Sagan (source unknown)

It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

-- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World

The evidence, so far at least and laws of Nature aside, does not require a Designer. Maybe there is one hiding, maddeningly unwilling to be revealed.

-- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot

When you make the finding yourself -- even if you're the last person on Earth to see the light -- you never forget it.

-- Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, p. 413

I'll moider da bum.
Heavyweight boxer Tony Galento, when asked what he thought of William Shakespeare

Blessed is the man, who having nothing to say, abstains from giving wordy evidence of the fact.

George Eliot (1819-1880)

God, please save me from your followers!
Bumper Sticker

I would have made a good Pope.
Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)

I am not young enough to know everything.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Few things are harder to put up with than a good example.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)

Distrust any enterprise that requires new clothes.
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

Sanity is a madness put to good uses.
George Santayana (1863-1952)

Criticism is prejudice made plausible.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956)

If Stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out?
Will Rogers (1879-1935)

He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

Pray, v.: To ask that the laws of the universe be annulled on behalf of a single petitioner confessedly unworthy.

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914)

God gave men both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time.

Robin Williams, commenting on the Clinton/Lewinsky affair

Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.
Michel de Montaigne

There is, alas, no scientific claim so preposterous that a scientist cannot be found to vouch for it.

Robert Park (physicist)

The jawbone of an ass is just as dangerous a weapon today as in Sampson's time.
Richard Nixon

The creationists have this creator who is evil, who is small-minded, who is malevolent, and who is not very bright and can't even get his science right. Creationists have made their creator in their own image, in my view.

Ian Plimer

A credulous mind ... finds most delight in believing strange things, and the stranger they are the easier they pass with him; but never regards those that are plain and feasible, for every man can believe such.

Samuel Butler (1612-1680)

Anybody who believes that the earth is less than 10,000 years old needs psychiatric help.

Francis Crick (1916-2004)

The business of proving evolution has reached a stage when it is futile for biologists to work merely to discover more and more evidence of evolution. Those who choose to believe that God created every biological species separately in the state we observe them, but made them in a way calculated to lead us to the conclusion that they are the products of an evolutionary development are obviously not open to argument. All that can be said is that their belief is an implicit blasphemy, for it imputes to God an appalling deviousness.

Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900-1975)

The scientist finds his reward in what Henri Poincare calls the joy of comprehension, and not in the possibilities of application to which any discovery may lead.

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy, that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness.

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908-2006)

Hands that help are better than lips that pray.
Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899)

I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

I am convinced that everything that is worthwhile in the world has been accomplished by the free, inquiring, critical spirit, and that the preservation of this spirit is more important than any social system whatsoever. But the men of ritual and the men of barbarism are capable of shutting up the men of science and of silencing them forever.

Sinclair Lewis

Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)

Coincidence is the evidence of the True Believer.
Chet Raymo

Where skeptical observation and discussion are suppressed, the truth is hidden. The proponents of such borderline beliefs, when criticized, often point to geniuses of the past who were ridiculed. But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

Carl Sagan (1934-1997)

It is obvious that the great majority of humans throughout history have had grossly, even ridiculously, unrealistic concepts of the world. Man is, among many other things, the mistaken animal, the foolish animal. Other species doubtless have much more limited ideas about the world, but what ideas they do have are much less likely to be wrong and are never foolish. White cats do not denigrate black, and dogs do not ask Baal, Jehovah, or other Semitic gods to perform miracles for them.

George Gaylord Simpson (1902-)

The opposition to teaching evolution is, of course, almost always given a religious reason. That may usually be its real basis, but I think it is often a mask, perhaps unconscious, for underlying anti-intellectualism or antiscientism.


George Gaylord Simpson (1902-)

Evolution is a bankrupt speculative philosophy, not a scientific fact. Only a spiritually bankrupt society could ever believe it. ... Only atheists could accept this Satanic theory.

Jimmy Swaggart

I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey. I believe that whenever a human being, of even the highest intelligence and culture, delivers an opinion upon a matter apart from his particular and especial line of interest, training and experience, it will always be an opinion of so foolish and so valueless a sort that it can be depended upon to suggest to our Heavenly Father that the human being is another disappointment and that he is no considerable improvement upon the monkey.
Mark Twain

Today, evolution is an accepted fact for everyone but a fundamentalist minority, whose objections are not based on reasoning but on doctrinaire adherence to religious principles.
James D. Watson (1928-)

The fact that Newton and Michael Faraday and other scientists of the past were deeply religious shows that religious skepticism is not a prejudice that governed science from the beginning, but a lesson that has been learned through centuries of experience in the study of nature.
Steven Weinberg

With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil---that takes religion.

Steven Weinberg

Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, wild tales, lies, and gibberish. Over the centuries, these stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was badly translated into several languages successively. The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject.
Tom Weller

[W]e shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man.
Lynn White, Jr.

There is, of course, no claim so preposterous that an expert cannot be found to vouch for it.
Robert Park - physicist

Agnosticism is not properly described as a negative creed, nor indeed as a creed of any kind, except in so far as it expresses absolute faith in the validity of a principle, which is as much ethical as intellectual. This principle may be stated in various ways, but they all amount to this: that it is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty.

Thomas Henry Huxley
Atheists do not so much reject God as bad arguments in His favor
Jack Provonsha
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.
John Stewart Mill

All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.
Lucretius
Beliefs are what divide people. Doubt unites them.
Peter Ustinov

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectively on sympathy, education and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.
Albert Einstein

All substances are poisons: there is none which is not a poison. The right dose differentiates a poison from a remedy.

Paracelsus

The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who loves his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.


H.L. Mencken

The religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide.
Ralph W Emerson, Journal, 1857

Faith is a fine invention
When gentlemen can see,
But microscopes are prudent
In an Emergency.
Emily Dickinson, 1880
Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.
Francis Bacon
The Self-Educated are marked by stubborn peculiarities.
Isaac D'Israeli

Education is the only interest worthy the deep, controlling anxiety of the thoughtful man.
Wendell Phillips

The purpose of education is to free the student from the tyranny of the present.
Cicero

The test and the use of man's education is that he finds pleasure in the exercise of his mind.
Jacques Martin Barzun

It has always seemed strange to me that in our endless discussions about education so little stress is laid on the pleasure of becoming an educated person, the enormous interest it adds to life. To be able to be caught up into the world of thought--that is to be educated.

Edith Hamilton

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.
Will Durant

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
Malcolm Forbes

The essence of intelligence is skill in extracting meaning from everyday experience.
Unknown

It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.
Alec Bourne

No passion so effectively robs the mind of its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.

Edmund Burke, A Vindication of Nature

Belief and sincerity do not define truth; it exists despite belief and sincerity.
Joshua David Mather

Randomized controlled trials appear to annoy human nature--if properly conducted, indeed they should.
K.F. Schultz

Proof is not anecdotal. Proof is scientific. Show me the research.
Mark Levine, DC

Scientific thinking might be defined as learning to distinguish the exception from the rule. I'd have a hard time entrusting my health to someone who didn't know the difference.
Stan Polanski

On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871)

The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Finley Peter Dunne

Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition
Adam Smith

Man can always believe the impossible, but man can never believe the improbable.
Oscar Wilde
The world is run by the people who show up.
Ben Franklin, Will Rogers, Woody Allen?

I have only a small flickering light to guide me in the darkness of a thick forest. Up comes a theologian and blows it out.

Denis Diderot

No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.

David Hume

A miracle is a violation of the laws of Nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established those laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can be.

David Hume

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? - Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

Abraham Lincoln

Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance
Daniel Davies

Men become civilized, not in proportion to their willingness to believe, but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.

HL Mencken

Man masters nature not by force but by understanding. This is why science has succeeded where magic failed: because it has looked for no spell to cast on nature.
Jacob Bronowski

Rhetoric is useful because the true and the just are naturally superior to their opposites, so that, if decisions are improperly made, they must owe their defeat to their own advocates; which is reprehensible. Further, in dealing with certain persons, even if we possessed the most accurate scientific knowledge, we should not find it easy to persuade them by the employment of such knowledge. For scientific discourse is concerned with instruction, but in the case of such persons instruction is impossible.
Aristotle

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

Isaac Asimov

In England it was enough that Newton was the greatest mathematican of his century; in France he would have been expected to be agreeable too.

Jean le Rond d'Alembert

There lives more faith in honest doubt,. Believe me, than in half the creeds.

Alfred Tennyson

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See
Only the mediocre can always be at their best
HL Mencken
Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers
Voltaire


If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things

Rene Descartes
To have doubted one's own first principles is the mark of a civilized man

Oliver Wendell Holmes

The understanding must not therefore be supplied with wings, but rather hung with weights, to keep it from leaping and flying.

Francis Bacon

Argumentation cannot suffice for the discovery of new work, since the subtlety of Nature is greater many times than the subtlety of argument.

Francis Bacon

Most of us were taught that the goal of science is power over nature, as if science and power were one thing and nature quite another. Bohr observed to the contrary that the more modest but relentless goal of science is, in his words, "the gradual removal of prejudices." By "prejudice," Bohr meant belief unsupported by evidence.

Richard Rhodes

Science is a differential Equation. Religion is a Boundary Condition.
Alan Turing

Optimistic lies have such an immense therapeutic value that a doctor who cannot tell them convincingly has mistaken his progession

George Bernard Shaw


Some eyes want spectacles to see things clearly and distinctly, but let not those that use them therefore say nobody can see clearly without them.

John Locke
Convictions are greater enemies of truth than lies.
Friedrich Nietzsche
The most common of all follies is to believe in the palpably untrue.
H.L. Mencken

A great deal of intelligence may be invested in ignorance if the need for illusion is deep.

Saul Bellow

Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard Feynman
Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself
Ludwig Wittgenstein

The real purpose of (the) scientific method is to make sure Nature hasn't misled you into thinking you know something that you actually don't

Robert Pirsig

The person who does not read good books has no advantage over the person who can't read them

Mark Twain

Common sense is nothing more than a deposit of prejudices laid down by the mind before your reach eighteen.

Albert Einstein

Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction... from our point of view as representatives of the state, we need believing people...

Adolph Hitler, April 26, 1933

Those who cavalierly reject the Theory of Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all

Herbert Spencer, Essays: Scientific, Political and Speculations, 1891

When I have a difficult subject before me—when I find the road narrow, and can see no other way of teaching a well-established truth except by pleasing one intelligent man and displeasing ten thousand fools—I prefer to address myself to the one man, and to take no notice whatever of the condemnation of the multitude; I prefer to extricate that intelligent man from his embarrassment and show him the cause of his perplexity, so that he may attain perfection and be at peace.
Moses Maimonides, A guide for the Perplexed

The lunatic is the man who lives in a small world but thinks it is a large one; he is the man who lives in a tenth of the truth, and thinks it is the whole. The madman cannot conceive any cosmos outside a certain tale or conspiracy or vision.
G. K. Chesterton

Naturally the common people don't want war.... That is understood. But, after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship.... Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same way in any country.

Hermann Goering , 1946, from "Nuremberg Diary" by G.M. Gilbert

As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H.L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)
Wherever there’s trouble, look for a priest.
Talleyrand

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.

Upton Sinclair
Disbelief is the foundation of all knowledge
Voltaire

The business and design of the Royal Society is: To improve the knowledge of naturall things, and all useful Arts, Manufactures, Mechanic practices, Engines and Inventions by Experiments--(not meddling with Divinity, Metaphysics, Moralls, Politicks, Grammar, Rhetoric or Logick).

Robert Hooke (1663)
The white men in our colonies are too frequently the savages
Alfred Russel Wallace

One must not assume that an understanding of science is present in those who borrow the language

Louis Pasteur
The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.

Arthur C. Clarke

Information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.

Arthur C. Clarke
The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you've got it made.
Jean Giraudoux
That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.

Christopher Hitchens

Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slave of some defunct economist.

John Maynard Keynes
Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity.
GB Shaw
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance
Thomas Jefferson

No democratic delusion is more fatuous than that which holds that all men are capable of reason, and hence susceptible to conversion by evidence.

HL Mencken

The test of a first class mind is the ability to hold two opposing views in the head at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Just because your voice reaches halfway around the world doesn't mean you are wiser than when it reached only to the end of the bar.

Edward R Murrow

The foundation of morality is to have done, once and for all, with lying; to give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibilities of knowledge.

TH Huxley

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.

Groucho Marx

I must decline your invitation owing to a subsequent engagement.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)


we who cherish science should be careful to distinguish when we are doing science and when we are extrapolating from it

Michael Ruse

Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.

Isaac Asimov

Never will man penetrate deeper into error than when he is continuing on a road which has led him to great success.

Friedrich von Hayek

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people

John Adams
Young man, in mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them.

John von Neuman
I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, looked at in the right way, does not become still more complicated.

John Scott Haldane
Never let your sense of morals get in the way of dong what's right.
Isaac Asimov

I have always thought that the substitution of the internal combustion engine for the horse marked a very gloomy milestone in the progress of mankind.

Winston Churchill
Climate is what you expect, weather is what your get.
Mark Twain
Philosophy is a battle against bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

To those who are trained in science, creationism seems a bad dream, a sudden coming back to life of a nightmare, a renewed march of an Army of the Night risen to challenge free thought and enlightenment.
Isaac Asimov

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
Epicurus

Religion was invented when the first con man met the first fool.
Mark Twain

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