Saturday Quotations: History, Wisdom, Authority

>> Saturday, July 11, 2009

Eh, why not?

The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.
--Aldous Huxley

It is acquired wisdom and experience only that teach incredulity, and they very seldom teach it enough.
--Adam Smith

It is the mark of a good action that it appears inevitable in retrospect.
--Robert Louis Stevenson

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

As one reads history... one is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted.
--Oscar Wilde

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

As long as we're going to reinvent the wheel again, we might as well try making it round this time.
-- Mike Dennison

Be ever questioning. Ignorance is not bliss. It is oblivion. You don't go to heaven if you die dumb. Become better informed. Learn from others' mistakes. You could not live long enough to make them all yourself.
-- Admiral Hyman Rickover

Collective judgment of new ideas is so often wrong that it is arguable that progress depends on individuals being free to back their own judgment despite collective disapproval.
-- W.A. Lewis

Despite its suffix, skepticism is not an "ism" in the sense of a belief or dogma. It is simply an approach to the problem of telling what is counterfeit and what is genuine. And a recognition of how costly it may be to fail to do so. To be a skeptic is to cultivate "street smarts" in the battle for control of one's own mind, one's own money, one's own allegiances. To be a skeptic, in short, is to refuse to be a victim.
-- Robert S. DeBear

Deviants are sacrificed to increase group solidarity
-- Jenny Holzer

"Experts," whose careers and celebrity status depend upon the existence of a problem, can write about the problem, consult about it, and speak about it on talk shows -- they can do everything but solve the problem.
-- Robert L. Woodson, Sr.

If we keep treating our most important values as meaningless relics, that's exactly what they'll become.
-- Michael Josephson

Information is just signs and numbers, while knowledge involves their meaning. What we want is knowledge, but what we get is information.
-- Heinz R. Pagels

Intellectual brilliance is no guarantee against being dead wrong.
-- David Fasold

I like to keep an open mind, but not so open my brains fall out.
-- Arthur Sulzberger

I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had.
-- Michael Crichton

Most executives, many scientists, and almost all business school graduates believe that if you analyze data, this will give you new ideas. Unfortunately, this belief is totally wrong. The mind can only see what it is prepared to see.
-- Edward de Bono

Most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.
-- James Robinson

Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.
-- James Baldwin

Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.
-- Demosthenes

Security can only be achieved through constant change, through discarding old ideas that have outlived their usefulness and adapting others to current facts.
-- William O. Douglas

What are the facts? Again and again and again — what are the facts? Shun wishful thinking, ignore divine revelation, forget what "the stars foretell," avoid opinion, care not what the neighbors think, never mind the unguessable "verdict of history" — what are the facts, and to how many decimal places? You pilot always into an unknown future; facts are your single clue. Get the facts!
-Robert Heinlein

Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.
-Albert Einstein

A time is marked not so much by ideas that are argued about as by ideas that are taken for granted. The character of an era hangs upon what needs no defense. Power runs with ideas that only the crazy would draw into doubt. The "taken for granted" is the test of sanity; "what everyone knows" is the line between us and them.
This means that sometimes a society gets stuck. Sometimes these unquestioned ideas interfere, as the cost of questioning becomes too great. In these times, the hardest task for social or political activists is to find a way to get people to wonder again about what we all believe is true. The challenge is to sow doubt.
-Lawrence Lessig


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