Sayings that I like

Lucius Accius

Oderint dum metuant.

(Let them hate so long as they fear.)

Anon.

Correlation does not imply causation.

Anon.

The plural of anecdote is not data.

Anon.

A mosquito was heard to complain

A mosquito was heard to complain

That a chemist had poisoned his brain

The cause of his sorrow

Was paradichloro

Diphenyltrichloroethane.

Archilochus (c. 680 – c. 645 BCE)

Πόλλ᾽ οἶδ᾽ ἀλώπηξ, ἀλλ’ ἐχῖνος ἕν μέγα.

(The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one big thing.)

Aristotle

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.

John Barrow

Where there’s smoke, there’s smoke.

Jeremy Bentham

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.

Charlemagne

Let those who can, teach.

To have another language is to possess a second soul.

Chekhov

Only entropy is easy.

GK Chesterton

“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.

Winston Churchill

When you have to kill a man, it costs nothing to be polite.

Charles Darwin

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.

Richard Dawkins

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].

Philip K Dick

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.

Theodosius Dobzhansky

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.

Albert Einstein

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.

Richard Feynman

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.

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]

Christopher Hitchens

What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.

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.)

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.

Pierre-Simon Laplace

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.)

Rosa Luxemburg

Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters.

Mao Zedong

It’s always darkest before it becomes totally black.

Abraham Maslow

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.

Herman Melville 

“I would prefer not to.”(Bartleby the scrivener)

Jacques Monod

Anything found to be true of E. coli must also be true of elephants.

Claus Moser

Education costs money, but then so does ignorance.

Napoleon

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.)

Louis Pasteur

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 is no poison.)

Pliny the Elder

People have less faith in a remedy if they understand it.

Bertrand Russell

No matter how eloquently a dog may bark, he cannot tell you that his parents were poor, but honest.

Carl Sagan

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.

Friedrich Schiller

Mit der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens.

(With stupidity the gods themselves fight in vain.)

Duns Scotus

Pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate.

(Plurality is not to be posited without necessity.)

Upton Sinclair

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

Socrates

When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.

Ezra Solomon

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable

Tacitus

Ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant

(They make a desert and call it ‘peace’.)

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.

Mark Twain

One gets … wholesale returns of conjecture out of … a trifling investment of fact.

Kurt Vonnegut

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.

So it goes.

Oscar Wilde

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.

Ludwig Wittgenstein

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.

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