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AGAINST EXCESSIVE SKEPTICISM

COLLECTED QUOTES

"The ability to quote is a servicable substitute for wit."
- W. Somerset Maugham

  "I am not very skeptical... a good deal of skepticism in a scientific man
  is advisable to avoid much loss of time, but I have met not a few men,
  who... have often thus been deterred from experiments or observations
  which would have proven servicable."   - Charles Darwin


 "Round about the accredited and orderly facts of every science there
  ever floats a sort of dust-cloud of exceptional observations, of
  occurrences minute and irregular and seldom met with, which it always
  proves more easy to ignore than to attend to... Anyone will renovate his
  science who will steadily look after the irregular phenomena, and when
  science is renewed, its new formulas often have more of the voice of the
  exceptions in them than of what were supposed to be the rules." 
    - William James


  "I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the
  greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most
  obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of
  conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which
  they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by
  thread, into the fabric of their lives."  -Tolstoy


  "It is really quite amazing by what margins competent but conservative
  scientists and engineers can miss the mark, when they start with the
  preconceived idea that what they are investigating is impossible.  When
  this happens, the most well-informed men become blinded by their
  prejudices and are unable to see what lies directly ahead of them." 
   - Arthur C. Clarke, 1963


 "When even the brightest mind in our world has been trained up from
  childhood in a superstition of any kind, it will never be possible
  for that mind, in its maturity, to examine sincerely, dispassionately,
  and conscientiously any evidence or any circumstance which shall seem
  to cast a doubt upon the validity of that superstition.  I doubt if I
  could do it myself." - Mark Twain


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


  "It is not uncommon for engineers to accept the reality of phenomena
  that are not yet understood, as it is very common for physicists to 
  disbelieve the reality of phenomena that seem to contradict contemporary 
  beliefs of physics" - H. Bauer


  "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, British philosopher


  "If a man is in too big a hurry to give up an error he is liable to 
   give up some truth with it."  - Wilbur Wright, 1902


  "It's like religion.  Heresy [in science] is thought of as a bad thing,
   whereas it should be just the opposite."  - Dr. Thomas Gold


 "You can get into a habit of thought in which you enjoy making fun of 
  all those other people who don't see things as clearly as you do.  We
  have to guard carefully against it."  - Carl Sagan, 1987 CSICOP meeting

 
 "New and stirring things are belittled because if they are not belittled,
  the humiliating question arises, 'Why then are you not taking part in
  them?' "    - H. G. Wells


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


 "I believe there is no source of deception in the investigation of
  nature which can compare with a fixed belief that certain kinds of
  phenomena are IMPOSSIBLE."  -William James


 "Modern science should indeed arouse in all of us a humility before the
  immensity of the unexplored and a tolerance for crazy hypotheses."
         -Martin Gardner


 "Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when
  they are first produced."  - Alfred North Whitehead


 "The mind likes a strange idea as little as the body likes a strange 
  protein and resists it with similar energy.  It would not perhaps be 
  too fanciful to say that a new idea is the most quickly acting antigen 
  known to science."   - Wilfred Trotter, 1941


 "When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is
  possible, he is almost certainly right.  When he states that something
  is impossible, he is very probably wrong."
     - Arthur C. Clarke's First Law


 "There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell 'em."
         - Louis Armstrong


  "The security provided by a long-held belief system, even when poorly 
  founded, is a strong impediment to progress.  General acceptance of a 
  practice becomes the proof of its validity, though it lacks all other 
  merit."   - Dr. B. Lown, invented defibrillator


 "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever 
  that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the 
  majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish 
  than sensible."  - Bertrand Russell


  "New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any 
  other reason but because they are not already common." - John Locke 


 "All great truths begin as blasphemies." - George Bernard Shaw 


 "Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a
  thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted 
  by many."  - Spinoza


 "If we watch ourselves honestly we shall often find that we have begun to 
  argue against a new idea even before it has been completely stated."
      - Wilfred Trotter


 "When a man finds a conclusion agreeable, he accepts it without argument, 
  but when he finds it disagreeable, he will bring against it all the 
  forces of logic and reason."  -Thucydides 


 "It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday
  is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow."  - Robert Goddard


 "Science might be better served when some scientists generate novel
  ideas while others carp at everything new, than if all scientists could
  somehow become disinterestedly skeptical."  Dr. Henry H. Bauer


 "'Type one' error is thinking that something special is happening when 
  nothing special really is happening. 'Type two' error is thinking that 
  nothing special is happening, when in fact something rare or infrequent 
  is happening.'   -M. Truzzi


 "I ask you, which is the greater threat to science and mankind,  
  accepting a claim that can have no possible benefit, or rejecting a 
  claim that can have great benefit?"  -Dr. Edmund Storms


 "There is nothing particularly scientific about excessive caution.
  Science thrives on daring generalizations."  - L. Hogben


 "What we need is not the will to believe but the will to find out."
                                          - Bertrand Russell


 "If you haven't found something strange during the day, it hasn't been 
  much of a day."   - J. A. Wheeler


 "Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible." 
         - M. C. Escher


 "What is there that confers the noblest delight? What is that which
  swells a man's breast with pride above that which any other experience
  can bring to him? Discovery! To know that you are walking where none
  others have walked..."   - Mark Twain


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


 "It would seem to me... an offense against nature, for us to come on the
  same scene endowed as we are with the curiosity, filled to overbrimming
  as we are with questions, and naturally talented as we are for the
  asking of clear questions, and then for us to do nothing about, or
  worse, to try to suppress the questions..."  -Lewis Thomas


 "Only a fool of a scientist would dismiss the evidence and reports 
  in front of him and substitute his own beliefs in their place."
                                                 - Paul Kurtz


 "The creative person pays close attention to what appears discordant and
  contradictory... and is challenged by such irregularities."  - F. Barron


 "Genius in truth means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an
  unhabitual way"  - William James, 1896


 "Talent hits a target no-one else can hit; genius hits targets no-one 
  else can see."  - Schopenhauer


 "The voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new horizons, but in seeing
  with new eyes."  - Marcel Proust 


 "The task is not to see what has never been seen before, but to think 
  what has never been thought before about what you see everyday."
                              - Erwin Schrodinger


 "Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what
  nobody else has thought."  - Albert Szent-Gyoergi


 "A man receives only what he is ready to receive...  The phenomenon or
  fact that cannot in any wise be linked with the rest of what he has
  observed, he does not observe.   - H. D. Thoreau


 "You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
     - Mark Twain 


 "The man who cannot occasionally imagine events and conditions of 
  existence that are contrary to the causal principle as he knows it will
  never enrich his science by the addition of a new idea."   - Max Planck


  "With most men, unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in 
   another."  - G. C. Lichtenberg


  "We not only believe what we see, to some extent we see what we believe
  ...The implications of our beliefs are frightening."   - Richard Gregory


  "Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible" - Dr. B. Lown


 "If what we regard as real depends on our theory, how can we make
  reality the basis of our philosophy? ...But we cannot distinguish
  what is real about the universe without a theory...it makes no sense
  to ask if it corresponds to reality, because we do not know what
  reality is independent of a theory."  - Stephen Hawking


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


 "Exploratory research is really like working in a fog.  You don't know 
  where you're going.  You're just groping.  Then people learn about it 
  afterwards and think how straightforward it was."  - Francis Crick


 "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
       - Phillip K. Dick


 "The secret of genius is to carry the spirit of childhood into maturity." 
           - T. H. Huxley


 "There are children playing in the street who could solve some of my top
  problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that
  I lost long ago."  - Robert Oppenheimer


 "The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively not by the false
  appearance of things present and which mislead into error, not directly
  by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by
  prejudice."  - Schopenhauer


 "It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go
  away, I'm looking for the truth.' and so it goes away. Puzzling."  
  - R. Pirsig


 "A first principle not formally recognized by scientific methodologists: 
  when you run into something interesting, drop everything else and study 
  it."        - B.F. Skinner


 "They are ill discoverers that think there is no land when they see
  nothing but sea."  - Francis Bacon


 "The universe is wider than our views of it." - Henry David Thoreau


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


 "Who never walks save where he sees men's tracks makes no discoveries."
   - J.G. Holland


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


 "It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink facts because they are not 
  to our taste."   - John Tyndall


 "Many discoveries  must have been stillborn or smothered at birth.  We 
  know only those which survived."  
                       - W. I. Beveridge, THE ART OF SCI. INVESTIGATION


 "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." - Emerson


 "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of a
  passionate intensity."   - Yeats


 "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
                                  - Sir Martin Rees (astronomer)


 "I can't see any farther.  Giants are standing on my shoulders!"
                                                       - unknown

 "In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a
  really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would
  actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them
  again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, 
  because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it
  happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that
  happened in politics or religion."  -Carl Sagan

 
  "When I examined myself and my methods of thought, I came to the
  conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent
  for absorbing positive knowledge."  - A. Einstein


  "All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point
   is to discover them." - Galileo Galilei


  "Advances are made by answering questions. Discoveries are made by
   questioning answers."   - Bernhard Haisch, astrophysicist


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


  "It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet
   hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young." 
         - Konrad Lorenz 


  "Inquiry is fatal to certainty."  - William J. Durant 


  "In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts."
   - Ralph Waldo Emerson 


  "There is no better soporific and sedative than skepticism." -Nietzche


 "...By far the most usual way of handling phenomena so novel that they
  would make for a serious rearrangement of our preconceptions is to
  ignore them altogether, or to abuse those who bear witness for them."
            - William James


 "Science today is locked into paradigms.  Every avenue is blocked by 
  beliefs that are wrong, and if you try to get anything published by a 
  journal today, you will run against a paradigm and the editors will 
  turn it down"  - Sir Fred Hoyle


 "If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will
  leave opportunities for alternatives.  We will not become enthusiastic
  for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain
  always uncertain...  In order to make progress, one must leave the door
  to the unknown ajar."    - Richard Feynman


 "The pressure for conformity is enormous. I have experienced it in 
  editors rejection of submitted papers, based on venomous criticism of
  anonymous referees. The replacement of impartial reviewing by
  censorship will be the death of science."  -Julian Schwinger, physicist


 "When adults first become conscious of something new, they usually 
  either attack or try to escape from it... Attack includes such mild 
  forms as ridicule, and escape includes merely putting out of mind."
             - W. I. B Beveridge, The Art of Sci. Investigation, 1950


 "New ideas are always criticized - not because an idea lacks merit, but
  because it might turn out to be workable, which would threaten the
  reputations of many people whose opinions conflict with it.  Some people
  may even lose their jobs."    - physicist, requested anonymity


 "Too much openness and you accept every notion, idea, and hypothesis - 
  which is tantamount to knowing nothing. Too much skepticism - especially 
  rejection of new ideas before they are adequately tested - and you're 
  not only unpleasantly grumpy, but also closed to the advance of science.
  A judicious mix is what we need."  - Carl Sagan


 "All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; Second,
  it is violently opposed; and Third, it is accepted as self-evident."
       - Arthur Schopenhauer


  "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.
               -J.B.S. Haldane, 1963


 "When a thing is new, people say: 'It is not true.' Later, when its 
  truth becomes obvious, they say: 'It is not important.' Finally, when
  its importance cannot be denied, they say: 'Anyway, it is not new.'"  
                  - William James, 1896


 "The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the
  conservative adopts them."   - Mark Twain


 "To imagine that turmoil is in the past and somehow we are now in a more 
  stable time seems to be a psychological need."  - geologist E. Moores


 "The soft-minded man always fears change.  He feels security in the
  status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new.  For him, the
  greatest pain is the pain of a new idea." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


 "Loyalty to a petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human
  soul."    - Mark Twain


 "No Pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to 
  an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit"
                                              - Helen Keller 


 "A danger sign of the lapse from true skepticism in to dogmatism is an
  inability to respect those who disagree" - Dr. Leonard George


 "It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established 
  authorities are wrong." - Voltaire


 "Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority has 
  established this, and it fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it 
  either way." - Blaise Pascal


 "We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression 
  of opinions that we loathe."  - Oliver Wendell Holmes


 "There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to 
  conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the 
  introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for 
  enemies all those who have done well under the old condition, and 
  lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.             
                                                 - Machiavelli, 1513

 "If I want to stop a research program I can always do it by getting a few 
  experts to sit in on the subject, because they know right away that it 
  was a fool thing to try in the first place."   - Charles Kettering, GM


 "If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you.
  You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the
  world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now
  and then, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful.
  If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything,
  you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing 
  in the way of understanding and progress. "      - Carl Sagan


 "There is a very important distinction between a critical attitude of 
  mind (or critical "faculty") and a sceptical attitude."  - W. Beveridge


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


 "The human understanding, when any preposition has been once laid 
  down... forces everything else to add fresh support and confirmation; 
  and although more cogent and abundant instances may exist to the 
  contrary, yet it either does not observe them or it despises them, or 
  it gets rid of and rejects them by some distinction, with violent and 
  injurious prejudice, rather than sacrifice the authority of its first 
  conclusions." - Francis Bacon, Novum Organum


 "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, British philosopher


 "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one 
  begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit
  facts."   - Sherlock Holmes  (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) 


 "Now, my suspicion is that the universe is not only queerer than we
  suppose, but queerer than we can suppose... I suspect that there are
  more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of, in any philosophy"
    - J.B.S. Haldane


 "The farther the experiment is from theory, the closer it is to the Nobel
  Prize."  - Joliet-Curie


 "There are two possible outcomes: If the result confirms the hypothesis, 
  then you've made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the 
  hypothesis, then you've made a discovery."   -Enrico Fermi


 "Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be defeated, but
  they start a winning game."  - Goethe


 "Everything we know is only some kind of approximation, because we know 
  that we do not know all the laws yet. Therefore, things must be learned 
  only to be unlearned again or, more likely, to be corrected."
    - Richard Feynman


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


 "The philosophies of one age have become the absurdities of the next,
  and the foolishness of yesterday has become the wisdom of tomorrow."
   - Sir William Osler


 "The altar cloth of one aeon is the doormat of the next."
     -Mark Twain


 "Perhaps the only thing that saves science from invalid conventional
  wisdom that becomes effectively permanent is the presence of mavericks
  in every generation - people who keep challenging convention and
  thinking up new ideas for the sheer hell of it or from an innate
  contrariness."  - Dr. D. M. Raup, Paleontologist, U. Chicago.


 "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."    - Einstein


 "We do not understand much of anything, from... the "big bang" , all the
  way down to the particles in the atoms of a bacterial cell.  We have a
  wilderness of mystery to make our way through in the centuries ahead."
      -Lewis Thomas


 "There is no natural phenomenon that is comparable with the sudden
  and apparently accidentally timed development of science, except
  perhaps the condensation of a super-saturated gas or the explosion of
  some unpredictable explosives."  - Eugene P. Wigner


 "Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all
  things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a
  great city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it will end." 
          - Ralph Waldo Emerson


 "Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities. Truth isn't." - Mark Twain


 "Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of
  nature." - Michael Faraday


 "The love of the marvelous is the most dangerous enemy of natural 
  science." - minerologist Eugene de Patrin, said in 1802 while dismissing
  reports of meteorites.


 "The skeptic will say, 'It may well be true that this system of
  equations is reasonable from a logical standpoint, but this does not
  prove that it corresponds to nature.'  You are right, dear skeptic.
  Experience alone can decide on truth.  - Albert Einstein


  Unnamed Law: If it happens, it must be possible.


 "I have steadily endeavored to keep my mind free so as to give up any
  hypothesis, however much beloved (and I cannot resist forming one on
  every subject), as soon as the facts are shown to be opposed to it."
    - Charles Darwin


 "I love fools' experiments, I am always making them."  - Darwin


 "It is a fool's prerogative to utter truths that no one else will speak."
   - N. Gaiman


 "The whole of science consists of data that, at one time or another, were
  inexplicable."  - B. O'Regan


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


  "May every young scientist remember... and not fail to keep his eyes
   open for the possibility, that an irritating failure of his apparatus
   to give consistent results may once or twice in a lifetime conceal an
   important discovery." - P. Blackett


  "My advice to those who which to learn the art of scientific prophesy
   is not to rely on abstract reason, but to decipher the secret language
   of Nature from Nature's documents: the facts of experience." - Max Born


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


  "In any field, find the strangest thing and then explore it." 
        - John A. Wheeler 


  "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new
   discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!)  but  'That's funny...'  "
    - Isaac Asimov 


  "The only solid piece of scientific truth about which I feel totally
   confident is that we are profoundly ignorant about nature... It is this
   sudden confrontation with the depth and scope of ignorance that
   represents the most significant contribution of twentieth-century
   science to the human intellect."  - Lewis Thomas


  "The end of our exploring will be to arrive at where we started, and to
   know the place for the first time."    -  T.S. Eliot


  "Sit down before facts like a child, and be prepared to give up every
   preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses
   Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing."  - T.H. Huxley


  "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged
   to stick to possibilities;    Truth isn't."  - Mark Twain


 "Let the mind be enlarged... to the grandeur of the mysteries, and not 
  the mysteries contracted to the narrowness of the mind" - Francis Bacon


 "Man's mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original
  dimension."  - Oliver Wendell Holmes


 "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


 "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought 
  without accepting it."  -Aristotle


 "I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is 
  much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that
  might be wrong."  - Richard Feynman


 "You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within
  himself."  - Galileo


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


 "In real life, every field of science is incomplete, and most of them 
  - whatever the record of accomplishment during the last 200 years - are
  still in their very earliest stages."  - Lewis Thomas


 "There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That's perfectly
  all right; they're the aperture to finding out what's right. 
                                                    - Carl Sagan


 "I personally feel it is presumptuous to believe that man can determine
  the whole temporal structure of the universe, its evolution,
  development and ultimate fate from the first nanosecond of creation to
  the last 10^10 years, on the basis of three or four facts which are not
  very accurately known and are disputed among the experts." 
     - J. Bahcall, senior astrophysicist, Institute for Advanced Study


 "On any Tuesday morning, if asked, a good working scientist will tell
  you with some self-satisfaction that the affairs of his field are
  nicely in order, that things are finally looking clear and making
  sense, and all is well.  But come back again on another Tuesday, and
  the roof may have just fallen in on his life's work."  -Lewis Thomas


 "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
  marvelous 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


 "Science...  is part and parcel of our knowledge and obscures our
  insight only when it holds that the understanding given by it is the
  only kind there is."    - C.G. Jung


 "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, early American physicist


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


 "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind."
         -Albert Einstein


 "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful 
  servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has 
  forgotten the gift."  - Albert Einstein


 "If you restrict the journal to publishing only what pleases the
  referees, you end up publishing what is popular, and while it does make
  everyone feel more comfortable, you are guaranteed to miss the
  occasional breakthrough."  - A. Dessler, Editor, Geophysical Research
  Letters, (regarding small-comet bombardment of Earth.)


 "No matter how we may single out a complex from nature...its
  theoretical treatment will never prove to be ultimately conclusive... I
  believe that this process of deepening of theory has no limits."  
    - Albert Einstein, 1917


 "Know that, as in life, there is much that many have looked upon but few 
  have seen because, as my father told me and his father told him, you 
  will come to learn a great deal if you study the insignificant in depth.  
    - Odysseus Elytis


 "Biologists can be just as sensitive to heresy as theologians."
    - H.G. Wells


 "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." - M. Planck


 "Science advances funeral by funeral." (Planck?)


 "When the human race has once acquired a superstition, nothing short of
  death is ever likely to remove it."  - Mark Twain


 "You can recognize a pioneer by the arrows in his back."  - Beverly Rubik


 "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


 "Scientists are not the paragons of rationality, objectivity,
  openmindedness and humility that many of them might like others to
  believe."  - Marcello Truzzi, CSICOP


 "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


  "Once a new paradigm takes hold, its acceptance is extraordinarily rapid 
   and one finds few who claim to have adhered to a discarded method."
                   - Dr. B. Lown, inventor of the modern defibrillator


 "For every expert, there is an equal and opposite expert." - anon


 "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."
            -- J. D. Watson  "The Double Helix"


 "Many very serious-minded, solid and knowledgable people work hard in 
  science all their lives and produce nothing of the smallest importance, 
  while others, few by comparison and not highly erudite, exhibit a 
  serendipity of mind that enables them to have valuable ideas in any 
  subject they may choose to take up."  - R.A. Lyttleton


 "As a whole, parapsychologists are nice, honest people, while the critics 
  are cynical, nasty people" - Ray Hyman, skeptical scientist, 1985


 "Desire for approval and recognition is a healthy motive, but the desire
  to be acknowledged as better, stronger, or more intelligent than a
  fellow being or fellow scholar easily leads to an excessively egoistic
  psychological adjustment, which may become injurious for the individual
  and for the community."   - Albert Einstein 


 "Science is the search for truth - it is not a game in which one tries to 
  beat his opponent, to do harm to others."  - Linus Pauling


 "The need to be right all the time is the biggest bar to new ideas.  It 
  is better to have enough ideas for some of them to be wrong, than to be 
  always right by having no ideas at all." - Edward de Bono


 "To swear off making mistakes is very easy.  All you have to do is 
  swear off having ideas."  - Leo Burnett


 "A man with a new idea is a crank until he succeeds." - M. Twain


 "Only puny secrets need protection. Big discoveries are protected by 
  public incredulity."  - Marshall McLuhan


 "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


 "Physical concepts are the free creations of the human mind and are not,
  however it may seem, uniquely determined by the external world."
  - Einstein/Infeld in "The Evolution of Physics" 1938


 "A new idea is delicate.  It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can
  be stabbed to death by a joke, or worried to death by a frown on the
  right person's brow."  - Charles Brower


 "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


 "We must care to think about the unthinkable things, because when things
  become unthinkable, thinking stops and action becomes mindless."
      - James W. Fulbright


 "Wisest is she who knows she does not know." -anon


 "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


 "A lie repeated often enough becomes the truth."  - G. Goebbels


 "Never attribute to conspiracy that which is adequately explained by
  stupidity."   - paraphrase of "Hanlon's Razor" (fm R. Heinlein)


  What I don't understand I despise, what I despise I reject.
  - THE REFEREE'S CREED


  "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."
  - Frank Zappa


  "My friends they were dancing here in the streets of Huntsville when our
   first satellite orbited the Earth. They were dancing again when the
   first Americans landed on the moon. I'd like to ask you, don't hang up
   your dancing slippers. "  - Wernher von Braun


AND FINALLY...

   "A witty saying proves nothing."  - Voltaire
 

SOME SKEPTICS' MISTAKES OF THE PAST  (see also 'OFFICIAL TRUTH)

  "So many centuries after the Creation, it is unlikely that anyone could
   find hitherto unknown lands of any value." 
      - Spanish Royal Commission, rejecting Christopher Columbus' proposal
        to sail west.

  "I would sooner believe that two Yankee professors lied, than that
   stones fell from the sky" - Thomas Jefferson, 1807 after hearing
   an eyewitness report of falling meteorites.

 "The more important fundamental laws and facts of physical science have
  all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the
  possibility of their ever being supplanted in consequence of new
  discoveries is exceedingly remote.... Our future discoveries must be
  looked for in the sixth place of decimals."  -Albert. A. Michelson,
      speech given in 1894 at the dedication of Ryerson Physics Lab, 
      Univ. of Chicago,

  "It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two
  or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the  [flying
  machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere."
     - Thomas Edison, 1895

  "Such startling announcements as these should be deprecated as being
  unworthy of science and mischievous to to its true progress." 
     - Sir William Siemens, 1880, on Edison's announcement of a 
       successful light bulb.

  "We are probably nearing the limit of all we can know about astronomy."
      - Simon Newcomb, astronomer, 1888

  "Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, 
   president, Royal Society, 1895.


  "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains
   is more and more precise measurement"  - Lord Kelvin, ?1900?


  "Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant,
   if not utterly impossible."  - Simon Newcomb, 1902.


  "The demonstration that no possible combination of known substances,
   known forms of machinery, and known forms of force can be united in a
   practicable machine by which men shall fly for long distances through
   the air, seems to the writer as complete as it is possible for the
   demonstration of any physical fact to be."  - astronomer S. Newcomb,
   1906


  "Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and 
   reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against 
   which to react.  He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily 
   in high schools." - 1921 New York Times editorial about Robert 
   Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

   "This foolish idea of shooting at the moon is an example of the absurd
   lengths to which vicious specialization will carry scientists." 
     -A.W. Bickerton, physicist, NZ, 1926

  "Space travel is utter bilge!"  -Sir Richard Van Der Riet Wolley

  "The whole procedure [of shooting rockets into space]...presents
   difficulties of so fundamental a nature, that we are forced to dismiss
   the notion as essentially impracticable, in spite of the author's 
   insistent appeal to put aside prejudice and to recollect the supposed
   impossibility of heavier-than-air flight before it was actually
   accomplished."
      -Sir Richard van der Riet Wooley, British astronomer, reviewing P.E.
       Cleator's "Rockets in Space", Nature, March 14, 1936 

   "Space travel is bunk" -Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of
    Britain, 1957, two weeks before the launch of Sputnik

   "Don't use quotations.  Tell me what you know."  -Ralph Waldo Emerson



Bill "huge ego" Beaty's own sayings:

  In physics there is no single right answer.  Unless you have several 
  different ways to explain something, you don't understand it yourself.

  To have a GOOD idea, you have to have a lot of BAD ideas. (stolen
  from a Linus Pauling quote)

  Sufficiently anomalous discoveries are indistinguishable from
  pseudoscience.

  Progress in science is something like climbing a mountain.  Only most
  mountaineers don't set up a new basecamp every ten feet, then leap
  out to attack anyone who tries to climb past.

  In scientific debate, sneering mockery is a well-known and widely 
  accepted technique.  After all, whenever your argument has been shown to 
  be invalid,   ...it still lets you win!

  To be the next Einstein takes more than an unkempt hairdo and a lack
  of socks.  On the other hand ...couldn't hurt!

  The banner of "Openmindedness" attracts charlatans and gullible fools,
  just as the banner of "skepticism" attracts bigots and the narrow-minded.
  This is no reason for the skeptical scientist to see openmindedness as
  foolish gullibility  ...nor for the maverick scientist to assume that 
  all skeptics are narrow-minded bigots.

  Sometimes you just fall off the cliff.  But sometimes you trigger 
  humankind's interstellar expansion.

 "THEY LAUGHED AT THE WRIGHT BROTHERS!  THEY LAUGHED AT ME, CALLED
  ME INSANE!   BUT I'LL SHOW THEM!   I'LL SHOW THEM ALL!  A-HA HA HA
  HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HAAAAAAAAAAA!"
 

REFERENCES

  The Mind of God and Other Musings:  The Wisdom of Science, 
  Shirley Jones, ed.

  Peer review reform: quotations

  Quotations: TRUTH

  "The Official Truth", quotes by mistaken experts

  The Experts Speak, more mistaken disbelief

  Skepticism Quotes

  Spacevoyages site

  Quotations for the Backyard Quantum Mechanic

  Creative Quotations

  Erroneous Predictions

  Scientific Quotes

  Thinking Quotes

  Mark Twain Quotes

  Science Communicators' Quotation Kit

  Quotations Links at the Open Directory Project

  Moment of Zen

  Physics Quotes

  Thoughtful Quotations

  ...and the .sig files of numberless internet users with a bent towards
  both science and wisdom.




http://amasci.com/weird/skepquot.html
Created and maintained by Bill Beaty
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