Geniuses and crackpots
- To see things in the seed, that is genius. (Lao-tzu)
- Great spirits have often encountered violent opposition from
mediocre minds. (Albert Einstein)
- Mediocrity knows nothing higher than itself, but talent
recognizes genius. (Arthur Conan Doyle).
- Talent is like a marksman who hits a target that others
cannot reach; genius is like the marksman who hits a target others
cannot even see. (Schopenhauer).
- When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by
that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. (Jonathan Swift)
- 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
(Carl Sagan, "Broca's Brain")
- They laughed at Copernicus. They laughed at Gallileo. But look
who's laughing now! (Anon)
- For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple,
neat, and wrong. (H. L. Mencken)
- Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools because
they have to say something. (Plato)
- Better beware of notions like genius and inspiration;
they are a sort of magic wand and should be used sparingly by anybody
who wants to see things clearly. (José Ortega y Gasset)
Dreams and Wanderlust
- Alas for those who never sing, but die with all their music
still in them. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)
- Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is
what dies inside us while we live. (Norman Cousins)
- Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these:
"It might have been". (John Greenleaf Whittier)
- Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently
(Anon.'s corollary to Clarke's third law)
- You see things; and you say, "Why?" But I dream things that
never were; and I say, "Why not?" (George Bernhard Shaw)
- One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to
soar. (Helen Keller)
- To know what you prefer instead of humbly saying Amen to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to have kept your soul alive. (Robert Louis Stevenson)
- When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk
the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and
there you will always long to return. (Leonardo da Vinci)
- The meek will inherit the Earth..... The rest of us will go to
- Quests may not simply be abandoned; prophecies may not be left
to rot like
unpicked fruit; unicorns may go unrescued for a long time, but not
forever. (Prince Li'r, "The Last Unicorn")
- Belief in the supernatural reflects a failure of the
imagination. (Edward Abbey)
- There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think.
(Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged")
- There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
- I could be bounded in a nutshell, and count myself king of
were it not that I have bad dreams. (Hamlet)
- The world is no longer a romantic place; some of its
people still are however, and therein lies the promise. Don't let the
world win. (John Cage, "Ally McBeal")
Human nature (non-religious)
- The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
- Worse than being blind, is to see and have no vision. (Helen
- When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to
resemble a nail. (Abraham Maslow)
- We are too busy mopping the floor to turn off the faucet. (Anon)
- Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.
- Zimmerman's Law of Complaints: Nobody notices when things go
- The truth shall make you free, but first it shall make you
- Millions long for immortality who do not know what to do with
themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon. (Susan Ertz)
- The person who can state his antagonist's point of view
to the satisfaction of the antagonist is more likely to be correct than
the person who cannot.
- There are two classes of forecasters: Those who don't
know... and those who don't know they don't know. (John Kenneth
- Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but most times he
pick himself up and carry on. (Winston Churchill).
- It is well to remember that the entire universe, with one
trifling exception, is composed of others. (John Andrew Holmes)
- If you think the world is all wrong, remember that it contains
people like you. (Mahatma Gandhi).
- Everybody wants to save the world, but nobody wants to help
Mum with the dishes. (P.J. O'Rourke).
- It will be generally found that those who sneer
habitually at human nature and affect to despise it are among its worst
and least pleasant examples. (Charles Dickens, "Nicholas Nickleby")
- The price of hating other humans is loving oneself less.
Human nature (religious)
- If you were taught that elves caused rain, every time it rained,
you'd see the proof of elves. (Ariex)
- If God didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent him. (Voltaire)
- If God created us in his own image, we have more than
- The Bible is a wonderful source of inspiration for those who
don't understand it.
- God is an invention of Man. So the nature of God is only a
shallow mystery. The deep mystery is the nature of Man. (Nanrei Kobori)
- He who carves the Buddha never worships him. (Chinese proverb)
- The Messiah will only come when he is no longer needed.
- The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the
world he didn't
exist. (Kint, "The Usual Suspects"; derived from C.S. Lewis, "The
You can't tell me, it's not worth fighting for
- Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite!
- Citius - Altius - Fortius
- La ilah ha ilul Allah!
- I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to
the death, your right to say it. (Voltaire)
- What is left when honor is lost? (Publius Syrus)
- One should die proudly when it is no longer possible to live
proudly. (Friedrich Nietzsche).
- Better to light the candle, than curse the darkness. (Confucius)
- One idea can light a thousand candles. (Ralph Waldo Emerson?)
- If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.
- What you do is of little significance. But it is very important
that you do it. (Mahatma Gandhi)
- It has nothing to do with defending our country, except to make
defending. (Robert Wilson)
- The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times
of great moral crisis, maintain their
neutrality. (Dante Alighieri)
- To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.
- I must study politics and war, that my sons may have
liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study
mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval
architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give
their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture,
statuary, tapestry, and porcelain. (John Adams)
- If I were forced to choose between my country and my friend, I
hope I would
be brave enough to choose my friend. (E.M. Forster)
- It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to
- I want you to remember that no one ever won a war by dying for
his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for
(Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.)
Science, mathematics and the universe
- There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are
dreamt of in your philosophy. (Hamlet)
- Politics is for the present, but an equation is something for
- The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is
comprehensible. (Albert Einstein)
- The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it seems
dürfen nicht denen glauben, die heute mit philosophischer Miene
über-legenem Tone den Kulturuntergang prophezeien und sich in dem
Ignorabimus gefallen. Füruns gibt es kein Ignorabimus, und meiner
Meinung nach auch für die Naturwissenschaftüberhaupt nicht.
törichten Ignorabimus heisse im Gegenteil unsere Lösung:
Wir müssen wissen. Wir werden wissen. (David Hilbert)
- So far as the theories of mathematics are about reality, they
are not certain;
so far as they are certain, they are not about reality. (Albert Einstein)
- Things should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. (Albert Einstein)
- The truth always turns out to be simpler than you thought.
- When you have mastered numbers, you will in fact no
longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading
books. You will be reading meanings. (W. E. B. Du Bois)
- In science, "fact" can only mean "confirmed to such a
degree that it would be perverse to withhold provisional assent." I
suppose that apples might start to rise tomorrow, but the possibility
does not merit equal time in physics
classrooms. (Stephen Jay Gould)
- Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have
certainty without any proof. (Ashley Montagu)
- Believe those who are seeking the truth; doubt those who find
it. (Andre Gide)
- Physics isn't a religion. If it were, we'd have a much easier
time raising money. (Leon Lederman).
- One thing I have learned in a long life is that all our science,
measured against reality, is primitive and childlike... and yet, it is
most precious thing we have.
- Nothing is built on stone; all is built in sand. But we must
build as if the sand were stone. (Jorge Luis Borges).
- When people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together. (Isaac Asimov)
- Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to
live forever. (Mahatma Gandhi)
- A science is any discipline in which the fool of this generation
can go beyond the point reached by the genius of the last generation.
- Science advances one funeral at a time. (Max Planck)
- The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that
discoveries, is not "Eureka!" but "That's funny..." (Isaac Asimov)
- Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a
security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What have we to
offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity! (Isaac Asimov)
- [Kepler] preferred the hard truth to his dearest illusions, and
that is the heart of science. (Carl Sagan, "Cosmos")
- The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement.
But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound
truth. (Niels Bohr)
- An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes which can be
made, in a narrow field. (Niels Bohr).
- When you take stuff from one writer, it's plagiarism. When you
take stuff from many writers, it's research. (Wilson Mizner).
- The scientist keeps the romantic honest, and the romantic
keeps the scientist human. (Tom Robbins, "Another Roadside Attraction")
- The good Christian should beware of mathematicians and all those
who make empty prophecies. The danger already exists that
mathematicians have made a covenant with the devil to darken the spirit
and confine man in the bonds of Hell. (Saint Augustine)
- Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just
the opposite. (John Kenneth Galbraith)
- Democracy is a form of government that substitutes
election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
(George Bernard Shaw)
- Traditional human government consists of thieves and
murderers. By adopting the electoral process, we have weeded out the
murderers. This is actually about as good as it gets. (Anon)
- Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big
appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.
- It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail. (Gore Vidal).
- Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes. (Thoreau)
- University politics are vicious precisely because the stakes are
so small. (Henry Kissinger)
- A developer is someone who wants to build a house in the woods.
environmentalist is someone who already has a house in the woods.
- Once there was a time when all people believed in God and the
This time is called the Dark Ages. (?)
- Diplomacy is the art of licking a neighbor's boots while
threatening to stab him
in the back. (Napoleon)
- The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a
little longer. (Henry Kissinger)
- Give a man fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and
he's warm for the rest of his life. (Terry Pratchett)
- There are two rules for success. (1) Never tell everything you
know. (Roger Lincoln).
- Those who can -- do.
Those who can't -- teach. (H.L. Mencken).
- Those who cannot teach -- administrate. (Martin)
- Love is like racing across the frozen tundra on a
snowmobile which flips over, trapping you underneath. At night, the
ice-weasels come. (Nietzsche,
according to Matt Groening)
- Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. (H. L.
- The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the
hunger for bread. (Mother Teresa)
- The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by
those who have not got it. (George Bernard Shaw)
- Remember, beneath every cynic there lies a romantic, and
probably an injured one. (Glenn Beck)
- When a thing has been said well, have no scruple. Take it and
- Next to being witty yourself, the best thing is to quote
another's wit. (C.N. Bovee)
- Some people like my advice so much that they frame it upon the
wall instead of using it. (Gordon R. Dickson)
- The words of wise men are heard in quiet more than the cry of
him that ruleth among fools. (Ecclesiastes 9:17)
- If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a
- Human beings know a lot of things, some of which are
true, and apply them. When we like the results, we call it wisdom.
- Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced. Even a proverb is no proverb to you till your life has illustrated it. (John Keats)
- To generalize is to be an idiot. (William Blake)
- A witty saying proves nothing. (Voltaire)
- There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it.
- Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it. (George Santayana)
- The great writers of aphorisms read as if they had all known each other well. (Elias Canetti)
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