Oderint dum metuant.
(Let them hate so long as they fear.)
Correlation does not imply causation.
The plural of anecdote is not data.
A mosquito was heard to complain
A mosquito was heard to complain
That a chemist had poisoned his brain
The cause of his sorrow
Archilochus (c. 680 – c. 645 BCE)
Πόλλ᾽ οἶδ᾽ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἕν μέγα.
(The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing.)
Dignity does not consist in possessing honours, but in deserving them.
The cause of the pleasure felt by those who insult is the idea that, in ill-treating others, they are more fully showing superiority.
W H Auden
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return
(from September 1st, 1939)
Where there’s smoke, there’s smoke.
Natural rights is simple nonsense: natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense — nonsense upon stilts.
Bible (Authorised (King James) Version)
Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?
What I have written, I have written
(Quod scripsi, scripsi) (Pilate)
Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Lewis Carroll (The Hunting of the Snark)
I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.
Let those who can, teach.
To have another language is to possess a second soul.
Only entropy is easy.
“No machine can lie”, said Father Brown, “nor can it tell the truth”.
Journalism largely consists in saying “Lord Jones Dead” to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive.
When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.
Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.
Unfortunately, however much we may deplore something, it does not stop being true.
We, alone on earth, can rebel against the tyranny of the selfish replicators [i.e. genes].
Simone de Beauvoir
On ne naît pas femme : on le devient.
Philip K Dick
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.
Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment)
Everything seems stupid when it fails.
Arthur Conan Doyle (A Scandal in Bohemia)
Sherlock Holmes: You see but you do not observe.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
Everything should be kept as simple as possible, but no simpler.
It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong. We never are definitely right: we can only be sure we are wrong.
J K Galbraith
We can safely abandon the doctrine of the eighties, namely that the rich were not working because they had too little money, the poor because they had much.
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.
Private enterprise did not get us atomic energy.
By denying scientific principles, one may maintain any paradox.
J B S Haldane
I suppose the process of acceptance [of a new theory] will pass through the usual four stages:
(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.
No, but I would to save two brothers or eight cousins. [When asked if he would give his life to save a drowning brother]
There is no great invention, from fire to flying, which has not been hailed as an insult to some god.
God has an inordinate fondness for beetles. [His conclusion about the nature of the Creator in response to a theologian’s question]
What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.
Dr Samuel Johnson
Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.
Prejudice, not being founded on reason, cannot be removed by argument.
Men know that women are an overmatch for them … If they did not think so, they never could be afraid of women knowing as much as themselves.
John Maynard Keynes
There is nothing a government hates more than to be well-informed; for it makes the process of arriving at decisions much more complicated and difficult.
Education: the inculcation of the incomprehensible into the ignorant by the incompetent.
When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do?
(or When the facts change, I change my mind.)
I had no need of that hypothesis. [When asked by Napoleon why there was no mention of God in a treatise on planetary orbits]
(Je n’avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.)
Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters.
It’s always darkest before it becomes totally black.
If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
“I would prefer not to.”(Bartleby the scrivener)
Anything found to be true of E. coli must also be true of elephants.
Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.
Never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake
William of Ockham
Non sunt multiplicanda entia sine necessitate.
(Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.)
When I see an actual flesh-and-blood worker in conflict with his natural enemy, the policeman, I do not have to ask myself which side I am on. (Homage to Catalonia)
The world is my country and to do good my religion.
La science n’a pas de patrie.
(Science has no homeland.)
Paracelsus (Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim)
The dose makes the poison.
Original German: Alle Ding sind Gift und nichts ohn’ Gift; allein die Dosis macht, das ein Ding kein Gift ist. (All things are poison and nothing (is) without poison; only the dose makes that a thing be not poison.)
Pliny the Elder
People have less faith in a remedy if they understand it.
No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor, but honest.
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
I don’t want to believe. I want to know.
The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses.
L’enfer, c’est les autres.
Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.
(With stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain.)
Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate.
(Plurality is not to be posited without necessity.)
It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.
The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable
Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant
(They make a desert and call it ‘peace’.)
It was worse than a crime – it was a mistake [or blunder].
(C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une faute.)
Harry S Truman
[The atomic bomb] is a terrible weapon, and it should not be used on innocent men, women and children who have nothing whatever to do with … military aggression.
One gets … wholesale returns of conjecture out of … a trifling investment of fact.
I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.
So it goes.
Science is magic that works.
A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him.
Wovon man nicht sprechen kan, darüber muss man schweigen.
(Whereof we cannot speak, thereof we must remain silent.)
If a lion could talk, we could not understand him.
I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves.