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Paradise Lost and Found

Paranoia

Parents and Children

Patriotism

Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz

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Paradise Lost and Found

 

"How often mankind has wished for a world as peaceful and secure as the one Landru provided."
"Yes. And we never got it. Just lucky, I guess."
     Spock and Kirk, "The Return of the Archons"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

Man stagnates if he has no ambition, no desire to be more than he is.
     Captain Kirk, "This Side of Paradise"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

Maybe we weren't meant for Paradise. Maybe we were meant to fight our way through, struggle, claw our way up; scratch for every inch of the way. Maybe we can't stroll to the music of the lute; we must march to the sound of drums.
     Captain Kirk, "This Side of Paradise"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

"What's the matter, Jim?"
"Oh, nothing. Just so peaceful. Uncomplicated, no problems, no command decisions . . . Just living."
"Typical human reaction to an idyllic natural setting. Back in the twentieth century, we referred to it as the Tahiti Syndrome. It's particularly common to overpressured leader types, like starship captains."
     McCoy and Kirk, "The Paradise Syndrome"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

There are many who are uncomfortable with what we have created. It is almost a biological rebellion — a profound revulsion against the planned communities, the programming, the sterilized, artfully balanced atmospheres. They hunger for an Eden, where Spring comes.
     Spock, "The Way To Eden"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

 

Paranoia

 

     "There's a word for people who think that everyone is conspiring against them."
     "That's right — perceptive."
          Chris (Dan Ackroyd) and C.W Briggs (Woody Allen)
          Woody Allen, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion (movie, 2001)

 

A paranoid is a man who knows a little of what's going on.
     William S. Burroughs

 

"I've always found paranoia to be a perfectly defensible position."
     Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides (1986)

 

You can never be too paranoid.
     Cathy E. Crimmins

 

I told my psychiatrist that everyone hates me. He said I was being ridiculous — everyone hasn't met me yet.
     Rodney Dangerfield

 

"But frankly — may I so speak? — your CIA people's theory strikes me as a miserable bundle of random suspicions, a few separate facts strung together by an intricate structure of ad hoc theorizing, in which everyone is credited with enormous powers for intrigue. A much simpler view can be entertained with more common sense, and as a CIA employee you must be aware that, like all intelligence agencies, it lacks the faculty of common sense."
     Lord Running Cloud (a intelligent, psychic slime mold)*
     Philip K. Dick, Clans of the Alphane Moon (1964)
          * I'm not making that up!

 

Take stock-market crashes. They happen because each individual makes a wrong move, and all the wrong moves put together create panic. Then whoever lacks steady nerves asks himself: Who's behind this plot, who's benefiting? He has to find an enemy, a plotter, or it will be, God forbid, his fault.
     Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

 

If you’re paranoid long enough, sooner or later you’re going to be right.
     Kinky Friedman

 

"Frank, don't be paranoid."
"I'm only paranoid 'cause everybody's against me."
     Hawkeye and Frank in MASH (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)
     "Germ Warfare"

 

I'm a tad paranoid, I think the person in front of me is following me the long way around.
     Dennis Miller

 

Just because you're paranoid, it doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
     Bill Murray

 

If you see in your wine the reflection of a person not in your range of vision, don't drink it.
     Chinese Proverb

 

My husband gave me a necklace. It's fake. I requested fake. Maybe I'm paranoid, but in this day and age, I don't want something around my neck that's worth more than my head.
     Rita Rudner

 

I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.
     J. D. Salinger

 

Even paranoids have real enemies.
     Delmore Schwartz

 

I envy paranoids; they actually feel people are paying attention to them.
     Susan Sontag

 

... the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think.
     Jean-Luc Picard, "The Drumhead"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation

 

"Paranoid" is what they call people who imagine threats against their life — I have threats against my life.
     Garak, "For the Cause"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine

 

"I left Cardassia because my life was in danger."
"From whom?"
"Everyone."
"Aren't you being a little paranoid?"
"Of course I'm paranoid, everyone's trying to kill me."
     Weyoun and Odo, "Treachery, Faith, and the Great River"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine 

 

I'm not paranoid! Which of my enemies told you this?
     Unknown

 

I tried to join Paranoids Anonymous, but no one would tell me where they were meeting.
     Tom Wilson

 

My first psychiatrist said I was paranoid, but I want a second opinion because I think he's out to get me.
     Tom Wilson

 

WARNING! Excessive label-reading could be harmful to your peace of mind.
     Tom Wilson

 

 

Parents and Children

 

Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
     James Baldwin

 

It is difficult to predict exactly what the doctor's bill for your pregnancy will be, because every situation is different. If your doctor's Mercedes-Benz is running well, he may charge you as little as $2,000; if there are complications, such as that he has been hearing a little ticking sound in the transmission lately, then he may be forced to charge you much more. It is a good idea to "shop around" before you settle on a doctor. Ask about the condition of his Mercedes. Ask about the competence of his mechanic. Don't be shy! After all you're paying for it.
     Dave Barry, Babies and Other Hazards of Sex (1984)

 

The hospital stay is a good time for you, as new parents, to share some quiet moments together listening to the woman on the other side of the curtain discuss her bowel movements with her mother via telephone. This is also a time for you to marvel at your baby's incredibly small feet and hands and to reflect on the fact that this is a real human life, a life that you have created, just the two of you; a tiny, helpless life that you are completely responsible for. Makes you want to hop right on a plane for the Azores, doesn't it? I mean, what do the two of you know about being responsible for a human life? The two of you can't even consistently locate clean underwear, for God's sake!
     Mother Nature understands this. That is why she has constructed babies so that even the most profoundly incompetent person, even a person who takes astrology seriously and writes angry, semiliterate letters to the television station when it changes the time at which it broadcasts "Family Feud," can raise babies successfully. All a newborn baby really needs is food, warmth, and love, pretty much like a hamster, only with fewer signs of intelligence.
     So don't worry; you'll do fine. Some day, when your child has grown into a teenager and gotten drunk and crashed your new car into the lobby of the home for the aged during the annual Christmas party, you'll look back on the hamster era and laugh about how worried you were.
     Dave Barry, Babies and Other Hazards of Sex (1984)

 

First of all, forget about reason. You can't reason with a one-year old. In fact, reasoning with children of any age has been greatly overrated. There is no documented case of any child being successfully reasoned with before the second year of graduate school.
     Dave Barry, Babies and Other Hazards of Sex (1984)

 

Unless you are a Bad Parent, you must throw a birthday party for your two-year-old, and you must invite other two-year-olds, and THEY MUST HAVE FUN, even if they don’t want to.  This is why so many birthday parties feature rental clowns, even though few things are more terrifying to small children than a clown at close range.  Stephen King based an entire novel on this concept.
    Dave Barry, Boogers Are My Beat (2003)
        “Get the (Birthday) Party Started”

 

Birth, n. The first and direst of all disasters.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Childhood, n. The period of human life intermediate between the idiocy of infancy and the folly of youth — two removes from the sin of manhood and three from the remorse of age.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Infancy, n. The period of our lives when, according to Wordsworth, "Heaven lies about us." The world begins lying about us pretty soon afterward.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Never lend your car to anyone to whom you’ve given birth.
     Erma Bombeck

 

People are giving birth underwater now. They say it's less traumatic for the baby because it's in water. Then it comes out into water. I guess it probably would be less traumatic for the baby, but certainly more traumatic for the other people in the pool.
     Elayne Boosler

 

Lastly, she [Alice's sister] pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.
     Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

 

[The birth trauma] That's the one we never get over.
     Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart) in Mary Chase 
     and Oscar Brodney, Harvey (movie, 1950)

Parents are not interested in justice, they are interested in quiet.
     Bill Cosby

 

My childhood should have taught me lessons for my own parenthood, but it didn't because parenting can be learned only by people who have no children.
     Bill Cosby, Childhood (1991)

 

As I have discovered by examining my past, I started out as a child. Coincidentally, so did my brother. My mother did not put all her eggs in one basket, so to speak: she gave me a younger brother named Russel, who taught me what was meant by "survival of the fittest."
     Bill Cosby, Childhood (1991)

 

For most mothers, day care is a problem. I'm looking for night care, too.
     Cathy E. Crimmins

 

As soon as I stepped out of my mother's womb onto dry land, I realized that I had made a mistake — that I should not have come, but the trouble with children is that they are not returnable.
     Quentin Crisp, The Naked Civil Servant (1966)

 

A suburban mother's role is to deliver children: obstetrically once, and by car forever after.
     Peter De Vries

 

When I can no longer bear to think of the victims of broken homes, I begin to think of the victims of intact ones.
     Peter De Vries

 

Adolescence begins when children stop asking questions — because they know all the answers.
     Evan Esar

 

When you feel neglected, think of the female salmon, who lays 3,000,000 eggs but no one remembers her on Mother's Day.
     Sam Ewing

 

What shall we hang — the holly, or each other?
     Henry II (Peter O'Toole)
     James Goldman, The Lion in Winter (movie, 1968)

 

What family doesn't have its ups and downs?
     Eleanor of Aquitaine (Katharine Hepburn)
     James Goldman, The Lion in Winter (movie, 1968)

 

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to conceive.
     Don Herold

 

You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.
     Franklin P. Jones

 

The Parent's Prayer: You have accepted all our gifts and seldom said thank you. You have looked at us with contempt, loathed our company, ignored every shred of good advice we offered. We offered you art and music and literature, and you chose garbage and noise. We forgive you for each and every one of your offenses and we heartily pray that in the fullness of time God will give you children and that they will do the same unto you. They are our allies. They fight for us and for justice. God grant us the simple justice of grandchildren. Amen.
     Garrison Keillor, Wobegon Boy (1997)

 

The real menace in dealing with a five-year-old is that in no time at all you begin to sound like a five-year-old.
     Jean Kerr, Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1957)

 

Everyone who ever walked barefoot into his child's room late at night hates Legos.
     Tony Kornheiser

 

All too often children are accompanied by adults.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Con

 

Children are rarely in the position to lend one a truly interesting sum of money. There are, however, exceptions, and such children are an excellent addition to any party.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Con

 

Children respond inadequately to sardonic humor and veiled threats.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Con

 

Notoriously insensitive to subtle shifts in mood, children will persist in discussing the color of a recently sighted cement-mixer long after one's own interest in the topic has waned.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Con

 

Children are usually small in stature, which makes them quite useful for getting at those hard-to-reach places.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Pro

 

Children ask better questions than do adults. "May I have a cookie?" "Why is the sky blue?" and "What does a cow say?" are far more likely to elicit a cheerful response than "Where's your manuscript?" "Why haven't you called?" and "Who's your lawyer?"
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Pro

 

Children give life to the concept of immaturity.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Pro

 

Children make the most desirable opponents in Scrabble as they are both easy to beat and fun to cheat.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Pro

 

I must take issue with the term "a mere child," for it has been my invariable experience that the company of a mere child is infinitely preferable to that of a mere adult.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Children: Pro or Con?" — Pro

 

Ask your child what he wants for dinner only if he's buying.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Do not allow your children to mix drinks. It is unseemly and they use too much vermouth.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Do not elicit your child's political opinions. He doesn't know any more than you do.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Do not, on a rainy day, ask your child what he feels like doing, because I assure you that what he feels like doing, you won't feel like watching.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Don't bother discussing sex with small children. They rarely have anything to add.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Educational television should be absolutely forbidden. It can only lead to unreasonable expectations and eventual disappointment when your child discovers that the letters of the alphabet do not leap up out of books and dance around the room with royal-blue chickens.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Letting your child choose his own bedroom furniture is like letting your dog choose his own veterinarian.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Never allow your child to call you by your first name. He hasn't known you long enough.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

Your responsibility as a parent is not as great as you might imagine. You need not supply the world with the next conqueror of disease or major motion-picture star. If your child simply grows up to be someone who does not use the word "collectible" as a noun, you can consider yourself an unqualified success.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Parental Guidance"

 

If in addition to being physically unattractive you find that you do not get along well with others, do not under any circumstances attempt to alleviate this situation by developing an interesting personality. An interesting personality is, in an adult, insufferable. In a teenager it is frequently punishable by law.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Tips For Teens"

 

Remember that as a teenager you are in the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear that the phone is for you.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Tips For Teens"

 

Think before you speak. Read before you think. This will give you something to think about that you didn't make up yourself — a wise move at any age but most especially at seventeen, when you are in the greatest danger of coming to annoying conclusions.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Tips For Teens"

 

Try to derive some comfort from the knowledge that if your guidance counselor were working up to his potential, he wouldn't still be in high school.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "Tips For Teens"

 

Insanity is hereditary; you can get it from your children.
     Sam Levenson

 

Somewhere on this globe, every ten seconds, there is a woman giving birth to a child. She must be found and stopped.
     Sam Levenson

 

The reason grandparents and grandchildren get along so well is that they have a common enemy.
     Sam Levenson

 

The invention of the teenager was a mistake. Once you identify a period of life in which people get to stay out late but don’t have to pay taxes — naturally, no one wants to live any other way.
     Judith Martin

 

Children leave food on all furniture and rugs. That's their job. It's an "either/or" proposition. You cannot have children and nice things, okay?
     Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller Live (April 12, 1996)

 

Parents were invented to make children happy by giving them something to ignore.
     Ogden Nash

 

Never raise your hand to your children — it leaves your midsection unprotected.
     Robert Orben

 

The best way to keep children home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant — and let the air out of the tires.
     Dorothy Parker

 

Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up — 'cause they're lookin' for ideas.
     Paula Poundstone

 

Like its politicians and its wars, society has the teenagers it deserves.
     J. B. Priestley

 

I don't understand how you can get to be an adult, in charge of your own life, and not eat all the damn sugar you can.
     Rick Reynolds, Only The Truth Is Funny: 
     My Family And How I Survived It
(1992)

 

When you think about it, what are children, really, but little stupid people who don't pay rent?
     Rick Reynolds, Only The Truth Is Funny: 
     My Family And How I Survived It
(1992)

 

I want to have children and I know my time is running out: I want to have them while my parents are still young enough to take care of them.
     Rita Rudner

 

I want to have children, but my friends scare me. One of my friends told me she was in labor for thirty-six hours. I don't even want to do anything that feels good for thirty-six hours.
     Rita Rudner

 

My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can't decide whether to ruin our carpet or ruin our lives.
     Rita Rudner

 

Never play peek-a-boo with a child on a long plane trip. There's no end to the game. Finally I grabbed him by the bib and said, "Look, it's always gonna be me!"
     Rita Rudner

 

These big birthday parties my friends make for their kids: One of my friends had a surprise birthday party for her child. He was one year old. We all snuck around the crib, jumped up, and yelled, “Surprise!” He was surprised. He’s in therapy.
     Rita Rudner

 

"Feel the baby kicking, feel the baby kicking," says my friend who is six minutes pregnant and deliriously happy about it. To me, life is tough enough without having someone kick you from the inside.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature
(1992)

 

I'm not Danielle Boone. I've never done drugs in my life, but if I ever did have a baby, at that point I would say, "Shoot me up." To me natural childbirth is backward; nowadays everyone takes drugs except when they need them.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature
(1992)

 

Envy the kangaroo. That pouch setup is extraordinary; the baby crawls out of the womb when it is about two inches long, gets into the pouch, and proceeds to mature. I'd have a baby if it would develop in my handbag. The dolphin just mocks us. I saw a dolphin give birth, and it didn't even stop swimming. I had a baby while working out! Talk about an overachiever.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature
(1992)

 

I don't think anyone really matures. I think adults are just children who owe money.
     Rita Rudner and Martin Bergman, Peter's Friends (movie, 1992)

 

Big sisters are the crabgrass in the lawn of life.
     Linus Van Pelt in Charles M. Schulz, 
     You Can’t Win, Charlie Brown
(“Peanuts,” 1962)

 

No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement.
     Florida Scott-Maxwell

 

If you must hold yourself up to your children as an object lesson, hold yourself up as a warning and not as an example.
     George Bernard Shaw

 

Look boy, I don't blame you for bugging me like this, because when you bug me like this I usually give in — shows you've been paying attention — but we both know I'm not going to give you a hundred dollars.
     Homer Simpson to Bart in The Simpsons

 

     "I promised I'd never let anything happen to him."
     "Hmm. That's a funny thing to promise."
     "What?"
     "Well you can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo."
          Marlin (Albert Brooks) and Dory (Ellen DeGeneres)
          Andrew Stanton, Bob Peterson and David Reynolds
          Finding Nemo (movie, 2003)

 

"Your contractions are now thirty seconds apart. Dilation has gone to seven centimeters since the onset of labor. That did not take long."
"That's easy for you to say!"
     Worf and Keiko, "Disaster"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation

 

"Where did you get the idea that being short and awkward is some kind of wonderful gift?"
"There must have been some part of childhood that you didn't loathe."
"Look, it was a long, depressing period of my life, and I was grateful when it was finally over."
     Ro and Guinan, "Rascals"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation

 

I have never understood the practice in some cultures of describing ferocious creatures in order to lull children to sleep.
     Tuvok, "Innocence"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager

 

TORRES: I can't believe we're negotiating with adolescent drones.
JANEWAY: They're not exactly drones. Mature Borg are predictable. They'll ignore you or assimilate you, but these juveniles — they're unstable.
TUVOK: They are contemptuous of authority, convinced that they are superior — typical adolescent behavior for any species.
     "Collective"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager

 

Ed spoke sometimes of a period he valued in his life. It was after he had left home and entered the University of Chicago. He had not liked his home life very well. The rules that he had known were silly from his early childhood were finally removed.
     "Adults, in their dealing with children, are insane," he said. "And children know it too. Adults lay down rules they would not think of following, speak truths they do not believe. And yet they expect children to obey the rules, believe the truths, and admire and respect their parents for this nonsense. Children must be very wise and secret to tolerate adults at all. And the greatest nonsense of all that adults expect children to believe is that people learn by experience. No greater lie was ever revered. And its falseness is immediately discerned by children since their parents obviously have not learned anything by experience. Far from learning, adults simple become set in a maze of prejudices and dreams and sets of rules whose origins they do not know and would not dare inspect for fear the whole structure might topple over on them. I think children instinctively know this," Ed said. "Intelligent children learn to conceal their knowledge and keep free of this howling mania."
     John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941, 1951)
          "About Ed Ricketts"

 

"Delivery" is the wrong word to describe the childbearing process. Delivery is: "Here's your pizza. Takes thirty minutes or less." "Exorcism," I think, is more apt: "Please! Get the hell out of my body!"
     Jeff Stilson

 

I tried to get in touch with my inner child but he isn't allowed to talk to strangers.
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip)

 

Young Mother. And so you think a baby is a thing of beauty and a joy forever? Well, the idea is pleasing, but not original — every cow thinks the same of its own calf. ... A sore-faced baby with a neglected nose cannot be conscientiously regarded as a thing of beauty, and inasmuch as babyhood spans but three short years, no baby is competent to be a joy "forever." ... I know a female baby aged eighteen months, in this city, which cannot hold out as a "joy" twenty-four hours on a stretch, let alone "forever."
     Mark Twain, "Answers to Correspondents" (1865)

 

My father and I were always on the most distant terms when I was a boy — a sort of armed neutrality, so to speak. At irregular intervals this neutrality was broken, and suffering ensued; but I will be candid enough to say that the breaking and the suffering were always divided up with strict impartiality between us — which is to say, my father did the breaking, and I did the suffering.
     Mark Twain, "A Memory" (The Galaxy, August 1870)

 

I was lying there trying some India-rubber rings of various patterns, and endeavoring to make a selection, for I was tired of trying to cut my teeth on people's fingers, and wanted to get a hold of something that would enable me to hurry the thing through and get at something else. Did you ever notice what a nuisance it was cutting your teeth on your nurse's finger, or how back-breaking and tiresome it was trying to cut them on your big toe? And did you never get out of patience and wish your teeth were in Jericho long before you got them half cut? To me it seems as if these things happened yesterday. And they did, to some children. But I digress.
     Mark Twain, "Wit-Inspirations of the 'Two-Year-Olds'" (1870)

 

He [Tom] was not the Model Boy of the village. He knew the model boy very well though — and loathed him.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)

 

Tom knew that when his name was pronounced in full, it meant trouble.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)

 

There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life when he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)

 

Sufficient unto the day is one baby. As long as you are in your right mind don't you ever pray for twins. Twins amount to a permanent riot. And there ain't any real difference between triplets and an insurrection.
     Mark Twain, "The Babies" (speech, November, 1879)

 

Always obey your parents. When they are present. This is the best policy in the long run, because if you don't they will make you. Most parents think they know better than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your own better judgment.
     Mark Twain, "Advice To Youth" (speech, 1882)

 

My mother had a good deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
    
(North American Review, 1906-1907)

 

Children have but little charity for one another's defects.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

 

It is a wise child that knows its own father, and an unusual one that unreservedly approves of him.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

When a teacher calls a boy by his entire name it means trouble.
     Mark Twain, Charles Neider (ed.), 
     The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959)

 

Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.
     Unknown

 

I've had one child. My husband wants to have another. I'd like to watch him have another.
     Unknown

 

I don't think I'd have been in such a hurry to reach adulthood if I'd known the whole thing was going to be ad-libbed.
     Calvin's Dad in Bill Watterson, The Indispensible Calvin
     and Hobbes
("Calvin and Hobbes," 1992)

 

"Why were you born in an unfashionable place like Lowell, Massachusetts?" The explanation is quite simple: I wished to be near my mother.
     James McNeill Whistler

 

Few parents nowadays pay any regard to what their children say to them. The old-fashioned respect for the young is fast dying.
     Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

 

My friend has a baby. I'm recording all the noises he makes so later I can ask him what he meant.
     Steven Wright

 

We had a quicksand box in our back yard. I was an only child, eventually.
     Steven Wright

 

When I was 10, my pa told me never to talk to strangers. We haven't spoken since.
     Steven Wright

 

When I was a baby, I kept a diary. Recently, I was rereading it. It said, "Day 1 — Still tired from the move. Day 2 — Everybody talks to me like I'm an idiot."
     Steven Wright

 

I've got two wonderful children, and two out of five isn't bad.
     Henny Youngman

 

 

Patriotism

 

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
     Edward Abbey

 

Patriot, n. One to whom the interests of a part seem superior to those of the whole. The dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Patriotism, n. Combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any one ambitious to illuminate his name.
     In Dr. Johnson's famous dictionary, patriotism is defined as the last refuge of a scoundrel. With all due respect to an enlightened but inferior lexicographer, I beg to submit that it is the first.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Un-American, adj. Wicked, intolerable, heathenish.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Patriotism, n. The first, last, and perennial refuge of scoundrels.
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)

 

A man who says that no patriot should attack the war until it is over is not worth answering intelligently; he is saying that no good son should warn his mother off a cliff until she has fallen over it.
     G. K. Chesterton

 

"My country right or wrong" is a thing no patriot would think of saying except in a desperate case. It is like saying, "My mother drunk or sober."
     G. K. Chesterton, The Defendant

 

He is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins.
     Frederick Douglas

 

The less a statesman amounts to, the more he loves the flag.
     Kin Hubbard

 

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
     Samuel Johnson, Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791)

 

You're not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you can't face reality. Wrong is wrong no matter who does it or who says it.
     Malcolm X, Malcolm X Speaks Out

 

The master says it's a glorious thing to die for the Faith and Dad says it's a glorious thing to die for Ireland and I wonder if there's anyone in the world who would like us to live.
     Frank McCourt, Angela's Ashes: A Memoir (1996)

 

Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country it is a sign that he expects to be paid for it.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Mind of Man"

 

If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident.
     Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu (Charles-Louis de Secondat)

 

Patriotism is often an arbitrary veneration of real estate above principles.
     George Jean Nathan

 

My country is the world and my religion is to do good.
     Thomas Paine, The Rights of Man, pt. II (1792)

 

Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.
     Bertrand Russell

 

Patriots always talk of dying for their country and never of killing for their country.
     Bertrand Russell

 

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
     George Bernard Shaw

 

July 4. — Statistics show that we lose more fools on this day than in all the other days of the year put together. This proves, by the number left in stock, that one Fourth of July per year is now inadequate, the country has grown so.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

 

For many centuries "the common brotherhood of man" has been urged — on Sundays — and "patriotism" on Sundays and weekdays both. Yet patriotism contemplates the opposite of a common brotherhood.
     Mark Twain, "Man's Place in the Animal World" 
     (a.k.a. "The Lowest Animal") (1896)

 

December 8. A couple of curious war-monuments here at Wanganui. One is in honor of white men "who fell in defence of law and order against fanaticism and barbarism." ... Patriotism is patriotism. Calling it Fanaticism cannot degrade it: nothing can degrade it. Even though it be a political mistake, and a thousand times a political mistake, that does not affect it; it is honorable — always honorable, always noble — and privileged to hold its head up and look the nations in the face. It is right to praise these brave white men who fell in the Maori war — they deserve it; but the presence of that word detracts from the dignity of their cause and their deeds, and makes them appear to have spilled their blood in a conflict with ignoble men, men not worthy of that costly sacrifice. But the men were worthy. It was no shame to fight them. They fought for their homes, they fought for their country; they bravely fought and bravely fell: and it would take nothing from the honor of the brave Englishmen who lie under the monument, but add to it, to say that they died in defense of English laws and English homes against men worthy of the sacrifice — the Maori patriots.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

 

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot. The soul and substance of what customarily ranks as patriotism is moral cowardice — and always has been.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1904

 

We have thrown away the most valuable asset we have — the individual right to oppose both flag and country when he (just he by himself) believes them to be in the wrong. We have thrown it away; and with it all that was really respectable about that grotesque and laughable word, Patriotism.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1904

 

... our patriotism is medieval, outworn, obsolete; that the modern patriotism, the true patriotism, the only rational patriotism, is loyalty to the nation ALL the time, loyalty to the government when it deserves it.
     Mark Twain, "The Czar's Soliloquy" (1905)

 

The nation is in labor; and by and by there will be a mighty birth — PATRIOTISM! To put it in rude, plain, unpalatable words — true patriotism, real patriotism: loyalty, not to a family and a fiction, but loyalty to the nation itself!
     Mark Twain, "The Czar's Soliloquy" (1905)

 

Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, and which course is patriotic and which isn't. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may. If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country — hold up your head! You have nothing to be ashamed of.
     Mark Twain, "Passage from 'Glances at History 
     (Suppressed)' — Date, 9th Century" (1906?)

 

Only when a republic's life is in danger should a man uphold his government when it is in the wrong. There is no other time.
     Mark Twain, "Passage from 'Glances at History 
     (Suppressed)' — Date, 9th Century" (1906?)

 

The stupid phrase [Our Country, right or wrong!] needed help, and it got another one: "Even if the war be wrong we are in it and must fight it out: we cannot retire from it without dishonor." Why, not even a burglar could have said it better. We cannot withdraw from this sordid raid because to grant peace to those little people upon their terms — independence — would dishonor us. You have flung away Adam's phrase — you should take it up and examine it again. He said, "An inglorious peace is better than a dishonorable war."
     Mark Twain "Passage from 'Glances at History 
     (Suppressed)' — Date, 9th Century" (1906?)

 

Is there a college in the whole country where there is a chair of good citizenship? There is a kind of bad citizenship which is taught in the schools, but no real good citizenship taught. There are some which teach insane citizenship, bastard citizenship, but that is all. Patriotism! Yes, but patriotism is usually the refuge of the scoundrel. He is the man who talks the loudest.
     Mark Twain, "Education and Citizenship" (speech, May 14, 1908)

 

"If I thought it an unrighteous war I would say so. If I were invited to shoulder a musket in that cause and march under that flag, I should decline. I would not voluntarily march under this country's flag, or any other, when it was my private judgment that the country was in the wrong. If the country obliged me to shoulder the musket, I could not help myself, but I would never volunteer. To volunteer would be the act of a traitor to myself, and consequently traitor to my country. If I refused to volunteer, I should be called a traitor, I am well aware of that — but that would not make me a traitor. The unanimous vote of the sixty millions could not make me a traitor. I should still be a patriot, and, in my opinion, the only one in the whole country."
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

 

Patriot: The person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.
     Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764)

 

I am a member of a party of one, and I live in an age of fear. Nothing lately has unsettled my party and raised my fears so much as your editorial, on Thanksgiving Day, suggesting that employees should be required to state their beliefs in order to hold their jobs. The idea is inconsistent with our constitutional theory and has been stubbornly opposed by watchful men since the early days of the Republic.
     E. B. White, letter to the New York Herald Tribune (November 29, 1947)

 

 

Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz
(1922-2000)

 

There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people . . . religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin!
     Linus van Pelt in Charles M. Schulz,
     You Can't Win, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1962)

 

I love mankind . . . it's people I can't stand.
     Linus van Pelt in Charles M. Schulz,
     Go Fly A Kite, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1960)

 

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" Then a voice says to me, "This is going to take more than one night."
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"

 

You, Charlie Brown, are a foul ball in the line drive of life!
     Lucy van Pelt in Charles M. Schulz,
     You've Hat It, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1969)

 

I've developed a new philosophy. I only dread one day at a time.
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz,
     The Unsinkable Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1967)

 

No matter what happens, I always feel like I'm in the ninth inning.
     Charlie Brown in Charles M. Schulz,
     You're Out of Sight, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1970)

 

No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from!
     Linus van Pelt in Charles M. Schulz,
     You Can Do It, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1963)

 

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement!
     Snoopy in Charles M. Schulz, Snoopy ("Peanuts," 1958)

 

 

Pets

 

There are no Seeing Eye cats, of course, because the sole function of cats, in the Great Chain of Life, is to cause harm to human beings. The instant a cat figured out that the blind person would follow it wherever it went, it would lead this person directly into whirling unshielded manufacturing equipment.
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry's Homes and Other Black Holes (1988)

 

Dachshunds are ideal dogs for small children, as they are already stretched and pulled to such a length that the child cannot do much harm one way or the other.
     Robert Benchley

 

A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.
     Robert Benchley, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.), 
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)

 

Cat, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Dog, n. A kind of additional or subsidiary Deity designed to catch the overflow and surplus of the world's worship. The Divine being in some of his smaller and silkier incarnations, takes, in the affection of Woman, the place to which there is no human male aspirant. The Dog is a survival — an anachronism. He toils not, neither does he spin, yet Solomon in all his glory never lay upon a doormat all day long, sun-soaked and fly-fed and fat, while his master worked for the means wherewith to purchase an idle wag of the Solomonic tail, seasoned with a look or tolerant recognition.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Cat, n. A small, furry animal with human servants.
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)

 

The greatest pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him, and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.
     Samuel Butler

 

Owning a cat is a lot like being an American tourist in a fancy French restaurant — you will be overcharged, you will likely be insulted, but, to you, it's worth it.
     Roger Carras

 

To his dog, every man is Napoleon; hence the constant popularity of dogs.
     Aldous Huxley

 

Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function.
     Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion (June, 1983)

 

Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any harm to ask for what you want.
     Joseph Wood Krutch, Twelve Seasons (1949)

 

The cat could very well be man’s best friend but would never stoop to admitting it.
     Doug Larson

 

If you are a dog and your owner suggests that you wear a sweater, suggest that he wear a tail.
     Fran Lebowitz

 

No animal should ever jump up on the dining-room furniture unless absolutely certain that he can hold his own in the conversation.
     Fran Lebowitz

 

When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?
     Michel de Montaigne, Essays (1588)

 

Cats sit in laps because it's warm there. They don't care if it's you or the radiator, so it certainly was a compliment when the owner said the cat liked me. Who had this cat met that it was comparing me to? The maid? Another cat? Here's an animal which can't read, that hasn't been out of the house in God knows when, lives on free milk and garbage, and this bum has an opinion? Two years old, doesn't have a cent. No clothes. Owns one rotten rubber ball. For big entertainment it scratches on the upholstery. And this green-eyed impoverished snob likes me? Thanks a group.
     Henry Morgan

 

The cat who doesn't act finicky soon loses control of his owner.
     "Morris the Cat"

 

The trouble with a kitten is
     THAT
Eventually it becomes a
     CAT
          Ogden Nash

 

They say the dog is man's best friend. I don't believe that. How many of your friends have you neutered?
     Larry Reeb

 

I wonder if other dogs think poodles are members of a weird religious cult.
     Rita Rudner

 

Yesterday I was a dog. Today I'm a dog. Tomorrow I'll probably still be a dog. Sigh! There's so little hope for advancement!
     Snoopy in Charles M. Schulz, Snoopy ("Peanuts," 1958)

 

There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.
     Albert Schweitzer

 

I don't know about Spot, but it seems to me your training is coming along just fine.
     LaForge to Data, "Force of Nature"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation

 

I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt, and I am convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts.
     John Steinbeck

 

I loathe people who keep dogs. They are cowards who haven't got the guts to bite people themselves.
     August Strindberg

 

The dog has seldom been successful in pulling Man up to its level of sagacity, but Man has frequently dragged the dog down to his.
     James Thurber, Thurber's Dogs (1955)

 

She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

Ever consider what dogs must think of us? I mean, here we come back from a grocery store with the most amazing haul — chicken, pork, half a cow. They must think we're the greatest hunters on earth!
     Anne Tyler

 

I bought a dog the other day. I named him Stay. It's fun to call him. "Come here, Stay! Come here, Stay!" He went insane. Now he just ignores me and keeps typing.
     Steven Wright

 

I put contact lenses in my dog's eyes. They had little pictures of cats on them. Then I took one out and he ran around in circles.
     Steven Wright

 

I spilled spot remover on my dog. Now he's gone.
     Steven Wright

 

My roommate got a pet elephant. Then it got lost. It's in the apartment somewhere.
     Steven Wright

 

 

Philosophy

 

When the philosopher's argument becomes tedious, complicated, and opaque, it is usually a sign that he is attempting to prove as true to the intellect what is plainly false to common sense.
     Edward Abbey, A Voice Crying in the Wilderness (1992)

 

Philosophy: unintelligible answers to insoluble problems.
     Henry Brooks Adams, in Bert Leston Taylor, The So-Called Human Race (1922)

 

"Philosopher" is Greek for "lover of wisdom." How many students have longed for some philosophers to be, with equal dedication, "haters of obscurity."
     Isaac Asimov

 

Why do we get older? Why do our bodies wear out? Why can't we just go on and on and on, accumulating a potentially infinite number of Frequent Flier mileage points? These are the kinds of questions that philosophers have been asking ever since they realized that being a philosopher did not involve any heavy lifting.
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990)

 

The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next.
     Henry Ward Beecher, Life Thoughts (1858)

 

There may be said to be two classes of people in the world: those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes and those who do not.
     Robert Benchley

 

All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.
     Ambrose Bierce

 

Cartesian, adj. Relating to Descartes, a famous philosopher, author of the celebrated dictum, Cogito ergo sum — whereby he was pleased to suppose he demonstrated the reality of human existence. The dictum might be improved, however, thus: Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum — "I think that I think, therefore, I think that I am;" as close an approach to certainty as any philosopher has yet made.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Esoteric, adj. Very particularly abstruse and consummately occult. The ancient philosophies were of two kinds, — exoteric, those that the philosophers themselves could partly understand, and esoteric, those that nobody could understand. It is the latter that have most profoundly affected modern thought and found greatest acceptance in our time.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Philosophy, n. A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Philosophy, like medicine, has plenty of drugs, few good remedies, and hardly any specific cures.
     Nicolas Chamfort, Maximes et Pensées (1794)

 

There is nothing so ridiculous but some philosopher has said it.
     Marcus Tullius Cicero, De Divinatione

 

Experience teaches, however, that there is no such thing as a thought experiment so clearly presented that no philosopher can misinterpret it . . .
     Daniel C. Dennett, Darwin's Dangerous Idea: 
     Evolution and the Meanings of Life (1995)

 

One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another.
     René Descartes, Le Discours de la Méthode (1637)

 

We used to think that if we knew one, we knew two, because one and one are two. We are finding that we must learn a great deal more about 'and.'
     Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington

 

The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because philosophy is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
     John Gardner

 

The phenomenon of replaying old tunes is pervasive in our lives and cultures. And how could it be otherwise, for talented folks are many, but the good tunes few. Alfred North Whitehead commented that the entire European philosophical tradition "consists of a series of footnotes to Plato" — by which he did not accuse his colleagues (and, by implication, himself) of stupidity or plagiarism, but merely noted that truly great problems are evident and finite — and therefore properly delineated (if not solved) by the first comprehensive thinker of extensive record.
     Stephen Jay Gould, Dinosaur in a Haystack (1995)
     "Sweetness and Light"

 

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers.
     William James

 

Thanks to the post-Democritan thinkers, there was little action in science from the time of the atomists until the dawn of the Renaissance. That's one reason the Dark Ages were so dark. The nice thing about particle physics is that we can ignore almost two thousand years of intellectual thought. Aristotelian logic — geocentric, human-centered, religious — dominated Western culture during this period, creating a sterile environment for physics.
     Leon Lederman, The God Particle: If the Universe is the 
     Answer, What is the Question? (with Dick Teresi, 1993)

 

There are men so philosophical that they can see humor in their own toothaches. But there has never lived a man so philosophical that he could see the toothache in his own humor.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Mind of Man"

 

Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he also usually proves that he is one himself.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)

 

The tendency has always been strong to believe that whatever received a name must be an entity or being, having an independent existence of its own. And if no real entity answering to the name could be found, men did not for that reason suppose that none existed, but imagined that it was something peculiarly abstruse and mysterious.
     John Stuart Mill

 

The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments.
     Friedrich Nietzsche

 

Making fun of philosophy is really philosophizing.
     Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1670)

 

It's odd that logical acuity, rather than helping one to clarify statements, often reveals hidden ambiguities within them. Instead of leading one to form more conclusions, it makes clear that fewer conclusions are justified. Bertrand Russell once observed that the keener one's sense of logical deduction, the less often one makes hard and fast inferences.
     John Allen Paulos, I Think, Therefore I Laugh: 
     An Alternative Approach to Philosophy (1985)

 

Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian philosopher, once remarked that "a serious and good philosophical work could be written that would consist entirely of jokes." If one understands the relevant philosophical point, one gets the joke.
     John Allen Paulos, I Think, Therefore I Laugh: 
     An Alternative Approach to Philosophy (1985)

 

Robert Benchley once remarked: "There may be said to be two classes of people in the world: those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes and those who do not." He should have added paradoxically that he belongs to the latter class.
     John Allen Paulos, I Think, Therefore I Laugh: 
     An Alternative Approach to Philosophy (1985)

 

The following is a true story. A well-known philosopher was delivering a talk on linguistics and had just stated that the double negative construction in some natural languages has a positive meaning and in others a (very) negative meaning. He went on to observe, however, that in no language was it the case that a double positive construction has a negative meaning. To this, Sidney Morgenbesser, another well-known philosopher, who was sitting in the rear of the lecture room, responded with a jeering "yeah, yeah."
     John Allen Paulos, I Think, Therefore I Laugh: 
     An Alternative Approach to Philosophy (1985)

 

The unexamined life is not worth living.
     Plato, Socrates in Plato's Apology (c. 399 BC)

 

Philosophy triumphs with ease over misfortunes past and to come, but present misfortunes triumph over it.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)

 

This is patently absurd; but whoever wishes to become a philosopher must learn not to be frightened by absurdities.
     Bertrand Russell

 

There has been a fear, often unconscious, that clear thinking would lead to anarchy, and this fear has led philosophers to hide in mists of fallacy and obscurity.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "Philosophy and Politics"

 

Some kind of philosophy is a necessity to all but the most thoughtless, and in the absence of knowledge it is almost sure to be a silly philosophy. The result of this is that the human race becomes divided into rival groups of fanatics, each group firmly persuaded that its own brand of nonsense is sacred truth, while the other side's is damnable heresy.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "Philosophy for Laymen"

 

Philosophy has been defined as "an unusually obstinate attempt to think clearly"; I should define it rather as "an unusually ingenious attempt to think fallaciously." The philosopher's temperament is rare, because it has to combine two somewhat conflicting characteristics: on the one hand a strong desire to believe some general proposition about the universe or human life; on the other hand, inability to believe contentedly except on what appear to be intellectual grounds. The more profound the philosopher, the more intricate and subtle must his fallacies be in order to produce in him the desired state of intellectual acquiescence. That is why philosophy is obscure.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "Philosophy's Ulterior Motives"

 

Commentators on great philosophers always politely ignore their silly remarks.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

 

It is a great advantage for a system of philosophy to be substantially true.
     George Santayana

 

I have another new philosophy: "What did you expect, a medal?" Some philosophies take a thousand years . . . I think of them in two minutes.
     Sally Brown in Charles M. Schulz, It's a Big World, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 2001)

 

For there was never yet philosopher
That could endure the toothache patiently.
     William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing (Act V, Scene i)

 

The logician Melvin Fitting, with his typical sense of humor, once said to me, "Of course I believe that solipsism is the correct philosophy, but that's only one man's opinion."
     Raymond Smullyan, 5000 B.C. and Other Philosophical Fantasies (1983)

 

By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy. If you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
     Socrates

 

... there is nothing so extravagant and irrational which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.
     Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels (1726)
     "A Voyage To Laputa, Balnibarbi, Glubbdubdrib, Luggnagg And Japan"

 

When he who hears doesn't know what he who speaks means, and when he who speaks doesn't know what he himself means — that is philosophy.
     Voltaire

 

Philosophy begins in wonder, and at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.
     Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought

 

The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.
     Alfred North, Whitehead Process and Reality (1929)

 

It is a safe rule to apply that, when a mathematical or philosophical author writes with a misty profundity, he is talking nonsense.
     Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics (1948)

 

Most propositions and questions that have been written about philosophical matters are not false, but senseless.
     Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1958)

 

 

Poetry

 

Poetry is a kind of ingenious nonsense.
     Isaac Barrow

 

I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one!
     Gelett Burgess, The Burgess Nonsense Book (1914)
     "The Purple Cow"

 

Ah, yes! I wrote the "Purple Cow" —
I'm sorry now I wrote it!
But I can tell you anyhow,
I'll kill you if you quote it!
     Gelett Burgess, The Burgess Nonsense Book (1914)
     "Confessional"

 

Free verse is like free love; it is a contradiction in terms.
     G. K. Chesterton

 

You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone.
     John Ciardi, Simmons Review (Fall 1962)

 

Moving from the position of United States poet laureate to New York State poet laureate might seem like a demotion or a drop in rank to the military-minded. It might even appear that I am heading toward eventually being crowned laureate of my ZIP code. But in fact, it is very gratifying to be honored again as a representative of poetry, this time by my native state where I grew up — more or less — and continue to live.
     Billy Collins

 

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
Who, squatting upon the ground,
Held his heart in his hands,
And ate of it.
I said, "Is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter — bitter," he answered;
"But I like it
"Because it is bitter,
"And because it is my heart."
     Stephen Crane, The Black Riders and Other Lines, III (1895)

 

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And reverie.
The reverie alone will do,
If bees are few.
     Emily Dickinson, Poems (c. 1862-1886)

 

The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
     Robert Frost, "Dust of Snow"

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sign
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

     Robert Frost "The Road Not Taken"

 

I suggest we take this a step further with the following poem title "Simplicity":            . No one can say my poem does not have a point. Of course we can write an even simpler poem, completely pointless, with the title "Ultimate Simplicity." It goes like this:
     Martin Gardner, Gardner's Whys and Wherefores (1989)
     "Kickshaws II"

 

Poet: a person born with an instinct for poverty.
     Elbert Hubbard

 

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!
     Rudyard Kipling, "The Ballad of East and West" (1889)

 

Publishing a volume of poetry is like dropping a rose-petal down the Grand Canyon and waiting for the echo.
     Don Marquis, The Sun Dial

 

Poetry is a comforting piece of fiction set to more or less lascivious music.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices, Series III

 

Most people ignore most poetry
because
most poetry ignores most people.
     Adrian Mitchell

 

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.
     Carl Sandburg "Fog"

 

KIRK: "All I ask is a tall ship, and a star to steer her by."
McCOY: Melville.
SPOCK: John Masefield.
McCOY: Are you sure about that?
SPOCK: I am well-versed in the classics, Doctor.
McCOY: Then how come you don't know "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"?
     STAR TREK V The Final Frontier

 

"Ode: to Spot"
Felix cattus is your taxonomic nomenclature:
An endothermic quadruped, carnivorous by nature.
Your visual, olfactory and auditory senses
Contribute to your hunting skills, and natural defenses.
I find myself intrigued by your subvocal oscillations
A singular development of cat communications
That obviates your basic hedonistic predilection
For a rhythmic stroking of your fur to demonstrate affection.
A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents:
You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
And when not being utilized to aid in locomotion
It often serves to illustrate the state of your emotion. ...
Oh, Spot, the complex levels of behavior you display
Connote a fairly well-developed cognitive array.
And though you are not sentient, Spot, and do not comprehend,
I nonetheless consider you a true and valued friend.
     Data, "Schisms"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation

 

"I am using the time to catch up on my study of poetry."
"Data, there's nothing on the screen."
"That is not entirely correct. While it is true the display is currently blank, this 'emptiness' has a poetic meaning. Therefore, it cannot be considered 'nothing' as such."
"Says who?"
"The ancient Uzidarians. Much of their poetry contains such lacunae or empty spaces. Often these pauses measured several days in length, during which poet and audience were encouraged to acknowledge the emptiness of the experience."
"I remember a few lectures at Starfleet Academy that seemed that way."
     Data and LaForge, "Interface"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation

 

When I say that I never knew my austere father to be enamored of but one poem in all the long half century that he lived, persons who knew him will easily believe me; when I say that I have never composed but one poem in all the long third of a century that I have lived, persons who know me will be sincerely grateful; and finally, when I say that the poem which I composed was not the one which my father was enamored of, persons who may have known us both will not need to have this truth shot into them with a mountain howitzer before they can receive it.
     Mark Twain, "A Memory" (The Galaxy, August 1870)

 

A poem is never finished, only abandoned.
     Paul Valéry

 

If a man's imagination is stimulated by artificial and arbitrary rules, he is a poet; if it is stifled by such limitations, whatever kind of writer he may be, a poet he is not.
     Paul Valéry

 

O blessed mood, in which the burden of the mystery, in which the heavy and the weary weight of all this unintelligible world, is lightened.
     William Wordsworth, "Lines composed a
     few miles above Tintern Abbey" (1798)

 

 

Politics

 

Politics makes estranged bedfellows.
     Goodman Ace

 

A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer.
     Dean Acheson

 

The one pervading evil of democracy is the tyranny of the majority, or rather of that party, not always the majority, that succeeds, by force or fraud, in carrying elections.
     Lord Acton, Lecture (1877)

 

The major problem — one of the major problems, for there are several — one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
     To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who most want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it. To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.
     Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (1980)

 

Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody, rather than for somebody.
     Franklin Pierce Adams, Nods and Becks (1944)

 

The trouble with this country is that there are too many politicians who believe, with a conviction based on experience, that you can fool all of the people all of the time.
     Franklin Pierce Adams, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.), 
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)

 

When the political columnists say "every thinking man," they mean themselves; and when candidates appeal to "every intelligent voter," they mean everybody who is going to vote for them.
     Franklin Pierce Adams, quoted in Leonard Roy Frank (ed.), 
     Random House Webster's Wit and Humor Quotationary (2000)

 

Those who rule us are like you and me. If is a frightening situation.
     Brooks Atkinson

 

Political history is far too criminal a subject to be a fit thing to teach children.
     W. H. Auden

 

What successful advertising men, not to mention most politicians, understand clearly is that people will in fact do what is bad for them in the long run if offered a reward that can be collected in the short run.
     Russell Baker

 

Why do we expect our Presidents to control destiny when they cannot even control the House of Representatives?
     Russell Baker

 

The dirty work at political conventions is almost always done in the grim hours between midnight and dawn. Hangmen and politicians work best when the human spirit is at its lowest ebb.
     Russell Baker, Poor Russell's Almanac (1972)

 

Sometimes I think I'd like to get more involved politically, but I get depressed when I look at the two major name-brand political parties. Both of them seem to be dominated by the kind of aggressively annoying individuals who always came in third for sophomore class president. Which is not to say that there are no differences between the parties. The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery. They're the kind of people who'd stop to help you change a flat, but would somehow manage to set your car on fire. I would be reluctant to entrust them with a Cuisinart, let alone the economy. The Republicans, on the other hand, would know how to fix your tire, but they wouldn't bother to stop because they'd want to be on time for Ugly Pants Night at the country club. Also, the Republicans have a high Beady-Eyed Self-Righteous Scary Borderline Loon Quotient, as evidenced by Phyllis Schlafly, Pat Robertson, the entire state of Utah, etc.
But the biggest problem I have with both major political parties is that they seem to be competing in some kind of giant national scavenger hunt every four years to see who can find the biggest goober to run for President. ...
     I can hear you saying: "Oh yeah, Mr. Smartass? Well, what kind of leader would you be?" The answer is, I'd be a terrible leader. I'd be such an inadequate leader that within a matter of days the United States would rank significantly below Belize as a world power. But at least I'd try to be an interesting leader. I wouldn't be one more pseudo-somber, blue-suited, red-tied, wingtip-shoed weenie, frowning at the issues with sincerely feigned concern. I'd try to truly represent my generation, the rock-'n'-roll generation that had the idealism and courage to defy the Establishment, stand up for what it believed in, march in the streets and go to Woodstock and sleep in the rain and become infested with body lice. If I were the President, I'd bring some life to the White House. The theme of my administration would be summarized,by the catchy and inspirational phrase: "Hey, The Government Is Beyond Human Control, So Let's at Least Have Some Fun with It."
          Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 40 (1990)

 

Many of you voted for the dung beetle, the mosquito, and the leech [for Official National Insect], all of which were inevitably compared to Congress. I'm sorry but that's a low blow: Our research indicates that no dung beetle has ever accepted money from a savings-and-loan operator.
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry Talks Back (1991)
     "Insect Aside"

 

Back in 1960, when we were always eyeball-to-eyeball with the Russians, the presidency was considered a hugely important job, unlike now, when the primary function of the federal government seems to be to produce repellent yet incomprehensible scandals, and politics is widely viewed as a joke, and the president is seen less as a national leader than as a celebrity — bigger than, say, Conan O'Brien, but nowhere near the level of Tom Cruise.
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry Turns 50 (1998)

 

Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing.
     Bernard Baruch, in M. Berger's New York (1960)

 

Capitalism, it is said, is a system wherein man exploits man. And communism is — vice versa.
     Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology (1960)

 

The standard of intellect in politics is so low that men of moderate mental capacity have to stoop in order to reach it.
     Hillaire Belloc

 

Men can afford to live under almost any kind of government, but they cannot afford to become fools and rogues.
     Ambrose Bierce, "The Electoral Process" (Wasp, 1884)

 

Administration, n. An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. A man of straw, proof against bad-egging and dead-catting.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Alliance, n. In international politics, the union of two thieves who have their hands so deeply in each other's pocket that they cannot separately plunder a third.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Boundary, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Capital, n. The seat of misgovernment.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Commonwealth, n. An administrative entity operated by an incalculable multitude of political parasites, logically active but fortuitously efficient.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Congress, n. A body of men who meet to repeal laws.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of existing evils, as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them with others.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Executive, n. An officer of the Government, whose duty it is to enforce the wishes of the legislative power until such time as the judicial department shall be pleased to pronounce them invalid and of no effect.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Incumbent, n. A person of the liveliest interest to the outcumbents.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Interregnum, n. The period during which a monarchical country is governed by a warm spot on the cushion of a throne. The experiment of letting the spot grow cold has commonly been attended by most unhappy results from the zeal of many worthy persons to make it warm again.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Mugwump, n. In politics one afflicted with self-respect and addicted to the vice of independence. A term of contempt.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Multitude, n. A crowd; the source of political wisdom and virtue. In a republic, the object of the statesman's adoration. "In a multitude of counselors there is wisdom," saith the proverb. If many men of equal individual wisdom are wiser than any one of them, it must be that they acquire the excess of wisdom by the mere act of getting together. Whence comes it? Obviously from nowhere — as well say that a range of mountains is higher than the single mountains composing it. A multitude is as wise as its wisest member if it obey him; if not, it is no wiser than its most foolish.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Oppose, v. To assist with obstructions and objections.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Opposition, n. In politics the party that prevents the Government from running amuck by hamstringing it.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Politician, n. An eel in the fundamental mud upon which the superstructure of organized society is reared. When he wriggles he mistakes the agitation of his tail for the trembling of the edifice. As compared with the statesman, he suffers the disadvantage of being alive.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Presidency, n. The greased pig in the field game of American politics.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

President, n. The leading figure in a small group of men of whom — and of whom only — it is positively known that immense numbers of their countrymen did not want any of them for President.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Radicalism, n. The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Representative, n. In national politics, a member of the Lower House in this world, and without discernible hope of promotion in the next.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Revolution, n. In politics, an abrupt change in the form of misgovernment. ... Revolutions are usually accompanied by a considerable effusion of blood, but are accounted worth it — this appraisement being made by beneficiaries whose blood had not the mischance to be shed.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Senate, n. A body of elderly gentlemen charged with high duties and misdemeanors.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Vote, n. The instrument and symbol of a freeman's power to make a fool of himself and a wreck of his country.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

The devil is a citizen of every country, but only in our own are we in constant peril of an introduction to him. That is democracy. All men are equal; the devil is a man; therefore, the devil is equal. If that is not a good and sufficient syllogism I should be pleased to know what is the matter with it.
     Ambrose Bierce, "Disintroductions" in Brian St. Pierre (ed.), 
     The Devil's Advocate: An Ambrose Bierce Reader (1987)

 

To say so is not the same thing as to say "Down with the republic!" The republic has its advantages. Among these is the liberty to say, "Down with the republic!"
     Ambrose Bierce, "Disintroductions" in Brian St. Pierre (ed.), 
     The Devil's Advocate: An Ambrose Bierce Reader (1987)

 

If you don't know how to lie, cheat and steal, turn your attention to politics and learn.
     Josh Billings

 

In order to retain a certain respect for sausages and laws, one must not see them being made.
     Otto von Bismarck

 

The interest of the people lies in being able to join organizations, advocate causes, and make political "mistakes" without being subjected to governmental penalties.
     Hugo L. Black, 1959

 

(On the American tax code:) If I wanted to be bored by 6,000 pages of unreadable dreck, I'd read War and Peace four times.
     Lewis Black, Taxed Beyond Belief

 

Democracy is an abuse of statistics.
     Jorge Luis Borges

 

Government is too big and important to be left to the politicians.
     Chester Bowles

 

In a democracy, every little wrong idea may grow up to become national policy.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

There ought to be a better way than government to run the world.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

Vote wisely, even if that means not voting at all.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

Anybody that wants the presidency so much that he'll spend two years organizing and campaigning for it is not to be trusted with the office.
     David Broder

 

Voting in this election is like trying to decide which street mime to stop and watch.
     A. Whitney Brown

 

Being fed up with Congress is as universal an emotion as wanting to punch a street mime.
     A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture: 
     An American Commentary
(1991)

 

Just because a senator is an ignorant, pretentious fathead doesn't mean he's not a cut above the people who voted for him.
     A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture: 
     An American Commentary
(1991)

 

Nowhere are prejudices more mistaken for truth, passion for reason, and invective for documentation than in politics.
     John Mason Brown, Through These Men (1952)

 

This is not an easy time for humorists because the government is far funnier than we are.
     Art Buchwald

 

Man is the only animal that laughs and has a state legislature.
     Samuel Butler

 

A promising young man should go into politics so that he can go on promising for the rest of his life.
     Robert Byrne, The 1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (1988)

 

Democracy is being allowed to vote for the candidate you dislike least.
     Robert Byrne, The 1,911 Best Things Anybody Ever Said (1988)

 

Nominate, v. To expose to public ridicule.
     Victor L. Cahn

 

Paper-shredder, n. The ultimate weapon for ensuring that secret government documents will not fall into the right hands.
     Victor L. Cahn

 

Radical, n. A Fascist out of power.
     Victor L. Cahn

 

An honest politician is one who when he is bought will stay bought.
     Simon Cameron

 

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.
     George Carlin

 

The word bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

 

Our only hope is insane leadership.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

 

Politics are almost as exciting as war and quite as dangerous. In war you can only be killed once, but in politics many times.
     Sir Winston Churchill

 

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.
     Sir Winston Churchill

 

It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried from time to time.
     Sir Winston Churchill, attributed

 

Farce: a phenomenon that in Americans politics is usually referred to as "something-Gate."
     John Cleese, training video

 

Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate.
     Mark B. Cohen

 

It costs money to propagate intelligence. Ignorance, on the other hand, is free. Our "leaders" in Washington seem to think they have found a bargain.
     Chris Colby

 

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear.
     Alan Coren

 

We have a presidential election coming up. And I think the big problem, of course, is someone will win.
     Barry Crimmins

 

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I'm beginning to believe it.
     Clarence Darrow

 

Democracy is the name we give to the people each time we need them.
     Robert De Flers

 

Democracy, a generally reasonable form of government, has one particularly worrisome drawback. People who run for public office may develop the fear of appearing brighter or better educated than the average voter. As it turns out, the fear is groundless. Too many politicians make a virtue of ignorance and a vice of knowledge.
     A. K. Dewdney, 200% of Nothing: An Eye-Opening Tour through 
     the Twists and Turns of Math Abuse and Innumeracy
(1993)

 

Nor is the peoples judgment always true;
the most may err as grossly as the few.
     John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel (1681)

 

A sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save man from the vexation of thinking.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals

 

There would seem to be a political principle that what can't be cured must be obscured …
     Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense (1945, 1958)

 

I was . . . an ordinary person who long after he was grown retained the childhood assumption that the people who largely control our lives are somehow better informed than, and have judgment superior to, the rest of us; that they are more intelligent. Not until Vietnam did I finally realize that some of the most important decisions of all time can be made by men knowing really no more than most of the rest of us.
     Jack Finney, Time and Again (1970)

 

So Two cheers for Democracy: one because it admits variety and two because it permits criticism. Two cheers are quite enough: there is no occasion to give three. Only Love the Beloved Republic deserves that.
     E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
     "What I Believe" (1939)

 

I think the next four years we should try it with no President.
     Dana Fradon

 

There is no kind of dishonesty into which otherwise good people more easily and frequently fall than that of defrauding the government.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
     John Kenneth Galbraith, Ambassador's Journal (1969)

 

A politician is a person with whose politics you don't agree; if you agree with him he is a statesman.
     David Lloyd George

 

If you're going to plagiarize, go way back. [advice to Senator Joseph Biden]
     Barry Goldwater

 

People come to Washington believing it's the center of power. I know I did. It was only much later that I learned that Washington is a steering wheel that's not connected to the engine.
     Richard Goodwin

 

Human gullibility has cash value, and enormous amounts of money can be made by any skilled manipulator. ... When people learn no tools of judgment and merely follow their hopes, the seeds of political manipulation are sown.
     Stephen Jay Gould

 

The only freedom which counts is the freedom to do what some other people think to be wrong. There is no point in demanding freedom to do that which all will applaud.
     Hailsham of St. Marylebone, The Dilemma of Democracy (1978)

 

Congressional terms should be ... ten to twenty with no possibility of parole.
     Walt Handelsman

 

We'd all like to vote for the best man, but he's never a candidate.
     Kin Hubbard

 

"Certainly I approve of political opinions, but there are people who do not know where to stop."
     Monsieur Mabeuf in Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862)

 

We believe that to err is human. To blame it on someone else is politics.
     Hubert H. Humphrey

 

"They [the clergy] believe that any portion of power confided to me, will be exerted in opposition to their schemes. And they believe rightly: for I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man. But this is all they have to fear from me: and enough, too, in their opinion.
     Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush (September 23, 1800)

 

The tragedy of all political action is that some problems have no solution; none of the alternatives are intellectually consistent or morally uncompromising; and whatever decision is taken will harm somebody.
     James Joll, Three Intellectuals in Politics (1960)

 

The stakes are too high for government to be a spectator sport.
     Barbara Jordan

 

The problem with democracy is that it attracts a lot of people who have time to kill.
     Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

 

Politics brings you into contact with all the people you'd give anything to avoid.
     Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days (1985)

 

Democracy is a tedious business. It tends to attract people who have time to kill, and so a public official spends vast aeons of time sitting and listening to gasbags, but I always tried to remember that public service is a high calling and that bitterness is beneath a public servant.
     Garrison Keillor, The Book of Guys (1993)
     "That Old Picayune-Moon"

 

Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweeledom and Tweedledee.
     Helen Keller

 

Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad name.
     Henry Kissinger

 

What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.
     Edward Langley

 

I once said cynically of a politician, "He'll double-cross that bridge when he comes to it."
     Oscar Levant

 

Politicians [are] a set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the people, and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass, at least one long step removed from honest men. I say this with the greater freedom because, being a politician myself, none can regard it as personal.
     Abraham Lincoln, Speech in the Illinois 
     Legislature (January 11, 1837)

 

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
     Groucho Marx

 

If you think this country’s bad off now, just wait till I get through with it.
    Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho Marx), The Marx Brothers, Duck Soup (movie, 1933)

 

Being in politics is like being a football coach; you have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important.
     Eugene McCarthy

 

It is dangerous for a national candidate to say things that people might remember.
     Eugene McCarthy

 

The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty.
     Eugene McCarthy, Time (February 12, 1979)

 

I think the world is run by C students.
     Al McGuire

 

Are the people who run for president really the best in a country of 240 million? If so, something has happened to the gene pool.
     Bob McKenzie

 

I would like to nominate a man who is honest and courageous. I'd like to, but this party doesn't have one of them kind of people. My candidate does not know the meaning of the word "compromise," does not know the meaning of the word "appeasement," does not know the meaning of the word "cowardice" — and has done quite well despite this lousy vocabulary.
     Vaughn Meader

 

One of the great virtues of our democratic system is that only one of the candidates gets elected.
     Bernard Meltzer

 

[Democracy:] The worship of jackals by jackasses.
     H. L. Mencken

 

I do not believe in democracy, but I am perfectly willing to admit that it provides the only really amusing form of government ever endured by mankind.
     H. L. Mencken

 

If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.
     H. L. Mencken

 

It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for any public office.
     H. L. Mencken

 

Political revolutions do not often accomplish anything of genuine value; their one undoubted effect is simply to throw out one gang of thieves and put in another.
     H. L. Mencken

 

The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstition and taboo.
     H. L. Mencken

 

The saddest life is that of a political aspirant under democracy. His failure is ignominious and his success is disgraceful.
     H. L. Mencken

 

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed [and hence clamorous to be led to safety] by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
     H. L. Mencken, The Smart Set (December 1921)

 

Politics, as hopeful men practice it in the world, consists mainly of the delusion that a change in form is a change in substance.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices (1924)

 

A demagogue's mind is a beautiful mechanism. It can think anything he asks it to think.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Citizen and the State"

 

Congress consists of one-third, more or less, scoundrels; two-thirds, more or less, idiots; and three-thirds, more or less, poltroons.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Citizen and the State"

 

Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey-cage.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Citizen and the State"

 

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Citizen and the State"

 

In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for. As for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Citizen and the State"

 

The smarter the politician, the more things he believes and the less he believes any of them.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — The Citizen and the State"

 

The worst government is the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)

 

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule — and both commonly succeed, and are right.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)

 

At each election we vote in a new set of politicians, insanely assuming that they are better than the set turned out. And at each election we are, as they say in the Motherland, done in.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: A Selection (1958)
     "The Politician"

 

The politician, at his ideal best, never even remotely approximated in practice, is a necessary evil; at his worst he is an almost intolerable nuisance.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: A Selection (1958)
     "The Politician"

 

I entered Parliament with what I thought to be the lowest possible opinion of the average member, I came out with one still lower.
     John Stuart Mill, Autobiography (1873)

 

State legislators are merely politicians whose darkest secret prohibits them from running for higher office.
     Dennis Miller

 

All these politicians are interchangeable. That's why the American voter feels as frustrated as a choking victim at a Christian-scientist award dinner.
     Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller Live (February 16, 1996)

 

A politician is . . . trained in the art of inexactitude. His words tend to be blunt or rounded, because if they have a cutting edge they may return to wound him.
     Edward R. Murrow, speech (1959)

 

Politics is the diversion of trivial men who, when they succeed at it, become important in the eyes of more trivial men.
     George Jean Nathan

 

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
     Reinhold Niebuhr

 

Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us.
     P. J. O'Rourke

 

Politicians are interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs.
     P. J. O'Rourke

 

All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
     George Orwell, Animal Farm (1945)

 

Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
     George Orwell, Nineteen eighty-four (1949)

 

One has the right to be wrong in a democracy.
     Claude Pepper

 

Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

Equal opportunity means everyone will have a fair chance at being incompetent.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

You can always get the truth from an American statesman after he has turned seventy, or given up all hope of the presidency.
     Wendell Phillips

 

Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
     Plato

 

Party is the madness of many, for the gain of a few.
     Alexander Pope, Thoughts on Various Subjects
     published in Swift's Miscellanies (1727)

 

We would like to apologize for the way in which politicians are represented in this programme. It was never our intention to imply that politicians are weak-kneed, political time-servers who are concerned more with their personal vendettas and private power struggles than the problems of government, nor to suggest at any point that they sacrifice their credibility by denying free debate on vital matters in the mistaken impression that party unity comes before the well-being of the people they supposedly represent, nor to imply at any stage that they are squabbling little toadies without an ounce of concern for the vital social problems of today. Nor indeed do we intend that viewers should consider them as crabby ulcerous little self-seeking vermin with furry legs and an excessive addiction to alcohol and certain explicit sexual practices which some people might find offensive. We are sorry if this impression has come across.
     Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974)
     "Apology (Politicians)"

 

Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributin' swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony! I mean, you can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you! I mean, if I went 'round sayin' I was an emperor just 'cause some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away . . . Ah, now we see the violence inherent in the system. Come and see the violence inherent in the system! Help, help, I'm bein' repressed!
     Constitutional Peasant (Michael Palin) in 
     Monty Python and the Holy Grail
(1975)

 

“We put all our politicians in prison as soon as they’re elected.  Don’t you?” [said Neilette]
     “Why?” [said Rincewind]
     “It saves time.”
          Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent (1998)

 

One of the hardest lessons of young Sam’s life had been finding out that the people in charge weren’t in charge.  It had been finding out that governments were not, on the whole, staffed by people who had a grip, and that plans were what people made instead of thinking.
    Terry Pratchett, Night Watch (2002)

 

If you have a weak candidate and a weak platform, wrap yourself up in the American flag and talk about the Constitution.
     Matthew S. Quay

 

Politicians are people who, when they see a light at the end of the tunnel, order more tunnel.
     Sir John Quinton

 

A statesman is a successful politician who is dead.
     Thomas B. Reed

 

Political campaigns are designedly made into emotional orgies which endeavor to distract attention from the real issues involved, and they actually paralyze what slight powers of cerebration man can normally muster.
     James Harvey Robinson, The Human Comedy (1937)

 

Every time they make a law it's a joke and every time they make a joke it's a law.
     Will Rogers

 

I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report on the facts.
     Will Rogers

 

I never lack material for my humor column when Congress is in session.
     Will Rogers

 

It's a good thing we don't get all the government we pay for.
     Will Rogers

 

Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with.
     Will Rogers

 

The difference between a comedian and a congressman is that when a comedian says something funny it's called a joke; when a congressman says something funny it's called a law.
     Will Rogers

 

The more you observe politics, the more you've got to admit that each party is worse than the other.
     Will Rogers

 

There is no credit to being a comedian, when you have the whole government working for you. All you have to do is report the facts.
     Will Rogers

 

I tell you folks, all politics is applesauce.
     Will Rogers, The Illiterate Digest (1924)

 

One of the evils of democracy is, you have to put up with the man you elect whether you want him or not.
     Will Rogers, Autobiography (1949)

 

When someone with a rural accent says, "I don't know anything about politics," zip up your pockets.
     Donald Rumsfeld

 

Democracy [has] at least one merit, namely that a Member of Parliament cannot be stupider than his constituents, for the more stupid he is, the more stupid they were to elect him.
     Bertrand Russell

 

Politics is largely governed by sententious platitudes which are devoid of truth.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

 

There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

 

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man, and our politicians take advantage of this prejudice by pretending to be even more stupid than nature made them.
     Bertrand Russell, New Hopes for a Changing World (1951)

 

The drama of politics is only the people running around trying to change one gang of bandits for another gang of bandits.
     Carl Sandburg

 

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
     George Bernard Shaw

 

Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)
     "Maxims for Revolutionists"

 

An election is a moral horror, as bad as a battle except for the blood: a mud bath for every soul concerned in it.
     George Bernard Shaw, Back to Methuselah (1921)

 

A government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
     George Bernard Shaw, Everybody's Political What's What? (1944)

 

I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.
     Socrates

 

Of all the spectacles presented for the bittersweet amusement of mankind, politics would be the richest and most hilarious if we didn't possess so many different means of destroying our planet.
     Brian St. Pierre, introduction to "Politics and Politicians" in
     The Devil's Advocate: An Ambrose Bierce Reader (1987)

 

The Klingon Empire is dying, and I think it deserves to die. ... Who was the last leader of the High Council that you respected? Has there even been one? And how many times have you had to cover up the crimes of Klingon leaders because you were told it was 'for the good of the Empire?' I know this sounds harsh, but the truth is, you have been willing to accept a government that you know is corrupt. Gowron is just the latest example. Worf, you are the most honorable and decent man that I've ever met, and if you're willing to tolerate men like Gowron, then what hope is there for the Empire?
     Ezri Dax, "Tacking into the Wind"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine

 

"Isn't anybody going to sing 'Hail to the Chief?'"
"'Mr. President,' how did it go?"
"My performance was unimpeachable."
     The Doctor and Kim, "Bride of Chaotica!"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager

 

In America, anyone can become president. That's one of the risks you take.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson

 

The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson

 

I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson, campaign speech (1952)

 

Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.
     Robert Louis Stevenson, Familiar Studies

 

The senate being tied is a start. Now, if only it could be gagged.
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip)

 

We're lucky to have C-SPAN. Not many countries can watch their government in action.
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip)

 

Washington is the only place where sound travels faster than light.
     C. V. R. Thompson

 

I heartily accept the motto, — "That government is best which governs least;" and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all;" and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)

 

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? Why has every man a conscience, then? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward. It is not desirable to cultivate a respect for the law, so much as for the right.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)

 

Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the actions of masses of men.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)

 

Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight. If the alternative is to keep all just men in prison, or give up war and slavery, the State will not hesitate which to choose.
     Henry David Thoreau, "Civil Disobedience" (1866)

 

The fate of the country ... does not depend on what kind of paper you drop into the ballot box once a year, but on what kind of man you drop from your chamber into the street every morning.
     Henry David Thoreau, Slavery in Massachusetts (1854)

 

Ninety-eight per cent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It's the other lousy two per cent that get all the publicity. But then — we elected them.
     Lily Tomlin

 

However, I suppose all Democrats are on sociable terms with the devil.
     Mark Twain, "Among the Spirits" (1866)

 

In these latter days it seems hard to realize that there was ever a time when the robbing of our government was a novelty.
     Mark Twain, "The Case of George Fisher" (1867)

 

There is one verse [in The Apocryphal New Testament (1821), Hermas III, Similitude 9:199] that ought not to have been rejected, because it so evidently prophetically refers to the general run of Congresses of the United States: 199. They carry themselves high, and as prudent men; and though they are fools, yet would seem to be teachers.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 

The government of my country snubs honest simplicity but fondles artistic villainy, and I think I might have developed into a very capable pickpocket if I had remained in the public service a year or two.
     Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)

 

... the Territorial legislature was usually spoken of as the "asylum" ...
     Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)

 

To my mind, Judas Iscariot was nothing but a low, mean, premature Congressman.
     Mark Twain, "Foster's Case" (1873)

 

This is an age of progress, and ours is a progressive land. A great and glorious land, too — a land which has developed a Washington, a Franklin, a William M. Tweed, a Longfellow, a Motley, a Jay Gould, a Samuel C. Pomeroy, a recent Congress which has never had its equal (in some respects), and a United States Army which conquered sixty Indians in eight months by tiring them out — which is much better than uncivilized slaughter, God knows. We have a criminal jury system which is superior to any in the world, and its efficiency is only marred by the difficulty of finding twelve men every day who don't know anything and can't read. And I may observe that we have an insanity plea that would have saved Cain. I think I can say, and say with pride, that we have some legislatures that bring higher prices than any in the world.
     Mark Twain, "Fourth of July Speech in London" (speech, 1873)

 

There is something good and motherly about Washington, the grand old benevolent National Asylum for the Helpless.
     Mark Twain, The Gilded Age (with Charles Dudley Warner, 1873)

 

... no country can be well governed unless its citizens as a body keeps religiously before their minds that they are the guardians of the law, and that the law officers are only the machinery for its execution, nothing more.
     Mark Twain, The Gilded Age (with Charles Dudley Warner, 1873)

 

... titles never die in America, although we do take a republican pride in poking fun at such trifles ...
     Mark Twain, The Gilded Age (with Charles Dudley Warner, 1873)

 

... the people were furious. Mind, they were not furious because bribery was uncommon in our public life, but merely because here was another case. Perhaps it did not occur to the nation of good and worthy people that while they continued to sit comfortably at home and leave the true source of our political power (the "primaries,") in the hands of saloon-keepers, dog-fanciers and hod-carriers, they could go on expecting "another" case of this kind, and even dozens and hundreds of them, and never be disappointed. However, they may have thought that to sit at home and grumble would some day right the evil.
     Mark Twain, The Gilded Age (with Charles Dudley Warner, 1873)

 

"This investigation is likely to be like all Senatorial 'investigations' — amusing but not useful."
     Mark Twain, The Gilded Age (with Charles Dudley Warner, 1873)

 

This ought to delight those sarcastic people who say we do not live under a "form of government" in America, but under a "system of organized imbecility."
     Mark Twain, "Mr. Duncan Once More" (1877)

 

Political parties who accuse the one in power of gobbling the spoils etc. are like the wolf who looked in at the door and saw the shepherds eating mutton, and said:  "Oh, certainly — it's all right as long as it's you — but there'd be hell to pay if I was to do that."
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1877

 

This presidential campaign is too delicious for anything. Isn't human nature the most consummate sham and lie that was ever invented? Isn't man a creature to be ashamed of in pretty much all his aspects? Man, "know thyself" — and then thou wilt despise thyself to a dead moral certainty.
     Mark Twain, letter to William Dean Howells (Elmira, August 21, 1884)

 

I believe you said something about the country and the party. Certainly allegiance to these is well; but as certainly a man's first duty is to his own conscience and honor — the party and the country come second to that, and never first. I don't ask you to vote at all — I only urge you not to soil yourself by voting for Blaine. ... The only necessary thing to do, as I understand it, is that a man shall keep himself clean (by withholding his vote for an improper man), even though the party and the country go to destruction in consequence. It is not parties that make or save countries or that build them to greatness — it is clean men, clean ordinary citizens, rank and file, the masses. Clean masses are not made by individuals standing back till the rest become clean.
     Mark Twain, letter to William Dean Howells (Elmira,
     September 17, 1884) on the 1884 Presidential election

 

For no one has ever seen a Republican mass meeting that was devoid of the perception of the ludicrous.
     Mark Twain, "Turncoats" (speech, 1884)

 

The departmental interpreters of the laws in Washington ... can always be depended on to take any reasonably good law and interpret the common sense all out of it.
     Mark Twain, letter to H. C. Christiancy (December 18, 1887)

 

I was from Connecticut, whose Constitution declares "that all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority and instituted for their benefit; and that they have at all times an undeniable and indefeasible right to alter their form of government in such a manner as they may think expedient." Under that gospel, the citizen who thinks he sees that the commonwealth's political clothes are worn out, and yet holds his peace and does not agitate for a new suit, is disloyal; he is a traitor. That he may be the only one who thinks he sees this decay, does not excuse him; it is his duty to agitate anyway.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

 

... the true statesman does not despise any wisdom, howsoever lowly may be its origin ...
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

 

And I was a newspaper reporter four years in cities, and so saw the inside of many things; and was reporter in a legislature two sessions and the same in Congress one session, and thus learned to know personally three sample bodies of the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes.
     Mark Twain, Fragment of a Letter to
     an Unknown Correspondent (1891)

 

Bill Styles, lobbying in behalf of a candidate for U. S. Senator — in the legislature — spoke of the low grade of legislative morals, "kind of discouragin', you see, it's so hard to find men of so high type of morals that they'll stay bought."
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1891

 

It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctively American criminal class except Congress.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

In statesmanship get the formalities right, never mind about the moralities.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

... for in America politics has a hand in everything ...
     Mark Twain, "From the 'London Times' of 1904" (1898)

 

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898

 

There are bigots who can accept nothing which their party-opposites approve. If you could work the multiplication table into a democratic platform the republicans would vote it down at the election.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1900

 

... as Methuselah says — you can get it [liquefied thought] from politicians and idiots; adding, in his unpleasant way, "But that is tautology; politician and idiot are synonymous terms."
     Mark Twain, "Papers of the Adam Family: The World
     in the Year 920 After Creation" (1906?)

 

Fleas can be taught nearly anything that a Congressman can.
     Mark Twain, "What Is Man?" (1906)

 

It is an accepted law of public life that in it a man may soil his honor in the interest of party expediency — must do it when party expediency requires it.
     Mark Twain, Christian Science (1907)

 

Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine,
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)

 

No party holds the privilege of dictating to me how I shall vote. If loyalty to party is a form of patriotism, I am no patriot. If there is any valuable difference between a monarchist and an American, it lies in the theory that the American can decide for himself what is patriotic and what isn't. I claim that difference. I am the only person in the sixty millions that is privileged to dictate my patriotism.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine,
     Mark Twain: A Biography (1912)

 

If we would learn what the human race really is at bottom, we need only observe it in election times.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.),
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)
     "The Character of Man" (1884)

 

... I have never voted a straight ticket from that day to this. I have never belonged to any party from that day to this. I have never belonged to any church from that day to this. I have remained absolutely free in those matters. And in this independence I have found a spiritual comfort and a peace of mind quite above price.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.),
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

 

I am a mugwump and a mugwump is pure from the marrow out.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.),
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

 

It is the foreign element that commits our crimes. There is no native criminal class except Congress.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

The new political gospel: Public office is private graft.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Public servant: Persons chosen by the people to distribute the graft.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Senator: Person who makes laws in Washington when not doing time.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Vote: The only commodity that is peddleable without a license.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Wherefore being all of one mind, we do highly resolve that government of the grafted by the grafter for the grafter shall not perish from the earth.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Ninety-six per cent of our newspapers and ninety-eight per cent of our eighty million citizens believe that the President [Teddy Roosevelt] is possessed of high intellectual qualities. Is that a crime? I do not think so. I think it is merely stupidity, and stupidity is not a crime.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)

 

We have lately sent a United States Senator to the penitentiary, but I am quite well aware that of those who have escaped this promotion there are several who are in some regards guiltless of crime — not guiltless of all crimes, for that cannot be said of any United States Senator, I think, but guiltless of some kinds of crime.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)

 

The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)

 

... all Congresses and Parliaments have a kindly feeling for idiots, and a compassion for them, on account of personal experience and heredity.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)

 

     "Did you ever try to make yourself believe a lie, Mark?" an old friend named Ellis Grimp asked him.
     "Yes," answered Mark Twain. "When I sought to convince myself that certain politicians were honest."
     "Did you ever meet a man that was absolutely honest?"
     "Yes, I think so."
     "And did you talk with him?"
     "Well, hardly. He hadn't been honest but a short time," said Mark Twain. "I was attending his funeral."
     Mark Twain, Alex Ayres (ed.), The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)

 

Crime doesn't pay as well as politics.
     Unknown

 

Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them.
     Paul Valéry, Tel quel

 

A statesman is any politician it's considered safe to name a school after.
     Bill Vaughan

 

Ballot, n. In democracies, the means by which the lesser of two or more political evils is transformed into the "people's choice."
     Edmund H. Volkart

 

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
     Voltaire

 

In general, the art of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other.
     Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764)

 

We are descended from the Puritan, who nobly fled from a land of despotism to a land of freedom, where they could not only enjoy their own religion, but prevent everybody else from enjoyin' his.
     Artemus Ward

 

Politics makes strange bed-fellows.
     Charles Dudley Warner

 

A time will come when a politician who has willfully made war and promoted international dissension will be as sure of the dock and much surer of the noose than a private homicide. It is not reasonable that those who gamble with men's lives should not stake their own.
     H. G. Wells

 

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.
     E. B. White, The Wild Flag (1946)

 

The impression one gets from campaign oratory is that the sun revolves around the earth, the earth revolves around the United States, and the United States revolves around whichever city the speaker happens to be in at the moment. This is what a friend of mine used to call the Un-Copernican system.
     E. B. White, "Sootfall and Fallout" (1956)
     Essays of E. B. White (1977)

 

The best politics that could happen for our republic would be the abolition of politics.
     Walt Whitman

 

High hopes were once formed of democracy; but democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people, by the people, for the people.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism" (1891)

 

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry.
     Frank Zappa, Bob Marshall interview (22 October 1988)

 

 

Power

 

Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
     Lord Acton, letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton (April 3, 1887)

 

All I want is a warm bed and a kind word and unlimited power.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

It's said that 'power corrupts', but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power. When they do act, they think of it as service, which has limits. The tyrant, though, seeks mastery, for which he is insatiable, implacable.
     David Brin, The Postman (1985)

 

Power is living in a mansion for 30 years and never really knowing where the kitchen is. Power is walking around with your fly open, and everybody thinking you're a fashion trend-setter. Power is the most sought after, addictive, seductive, abused drug there is. Compared to Power, crack is Fruitopia.
     Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller Live

 

Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.
     William Pitt, Earl of Chatham Speech, Hansard, 
     House of Lords (January 9, 1770), col. 665

 

Power lasts ten years; influence not more than a hundred.
     Korean Proverb

 

Man has responsibility, not power.
     Native American (Tuscarora) Proverb

 

No one is fit to be trusted with power. ... No one. ... Any man who has lived at all knows the follies and wickedness he's capable of. If he does not know it, he is not fit to govern others. And if he does know it, he knows also that neither he nor any man ought to be allowed to decide a single human fate.
     Baron C. P. [Charles Percy] Snow, The Light and the Dark (1961)

 

McCOY: What he's saying, Spock, is that a man hold that much power — even with the best intentions — just can't resist the urge to play God. ... It also proves another Earth saying: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." Darn clever of these Earth men, wouldn't you say?
SPOCK: Yes. Earth men like Ramses, Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, Lee Kwan. Your whole Earth history is made up of men seeking absolute power. ...
KIRK: Gentlemen, gentlemen, we've just been through one civil war, let's not start another.
     "Patterns of Force"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

Uncontrolled, power will turn even saints into savages. We cal all be counted upon to live down to our lowest impulses.
     Parmen, "Plato's Stepchildren"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.
     Unknown

 

 

Pride

 

Pride can be important, when you don't have much else.
     David Brin, Brightness Reef (1995)

 

There are none so empty as those who are full of themselves.
     English Proverb

 

When we turned around, the cat, with stupendous simplicity, was coiled up and sound asleep upon the feet of the Great Queen! Truly this was reaching far toward the millennium when the lion and the lamb shall lie down together. The murderer of Mary and Essex, the conqueror of the Armada, the imperious ruler of a turbulent empire, become a couch, at last, for a tired kitten! It was the most eloquent sermon upon the vanity of human pride and human grandeur that inspired Westminster preached to us that night.
     Mark Twain, "A Memorable Midnight Experience" (1872)

 

A great many persons have the idea that the universe would run off the track but for them.
     Lemuel K. Washburn

 

 

Principles (Out of Season)

 

Men of principle are sure to be bold, but those who are bold may not always be men of principle.
     Confucius, Analects (6th century B.C.)

 

I don't mind martyrdom for a policy in which I believe, but I object to being burnt for someone's else's principles.
     John Galsworthy

 

Love and business and family and religion and art and patriotism are nothing but shadows of words when a man's starving.
     O. Henry, Heart of the West (1907)

 

A man is usually more careful of his money than of his principles.
     Oliver Wendell Holmes, Speech, Boston (January 8, 1897)

 

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money, but the principle of the thing," it's the money.
     Kin Hubbard

 

You can't learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency.
     W. Somerset Maugham

 

It is often easier to fight for principles than to live up to them.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson, Speech, New York City (August 27, 1952)

 

I was obliged to eat them [the apples], I was so hungry. It was against my principles, but I find that principles have no real force except when one is well fed.
     Mark Twain, "Extracts from Adam's Diary" (1893)

 

Prosperity is the best protection of principle.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

Principles aren't of much account anyway, except at election time. After that you hang them up to let them season.
     Mark Twain, "Municipal Corruption" (speech, January 4, 1901)

 

They had lived to prove, once more, a sad truth which had been proven many times before in the world: that whereas principle is a great and noble protection against showy and degrading vanities and vices, poverty is worth six of it.
     Mark Twain, "The $30,000 Bequest" (1904)

 

Prosperity is the best protector of principle.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

 

Problems

 

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
     Poul Anderson, New Scientist (25 September 1969)

 

A solved problem creates two new problems, and the best prescription for happy living is not to solve any more problems than you have to.
     Russell Baker

 

Cling to your insecurity — in this world, it's the only thing you can be sure of.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

I don't have any solution, but I certainly admire the problem.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

I recently had my problems on the run, but now they've re-grouped, and are making another attack.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

If you must keep groaning, please try to do it in a rhythm I can dance to.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

It's all very simple, or else it's all very complex, or perhaps it's neither, or both.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

My problems aren't big but it doesn't necessarily take a big problem to kill me.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

One problem I have definitely solved is the problem of not having enough to worry about.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

Please don't tell me there's no need to worry — it's the only thing I'm any good at.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

Please don't tell me to relax — it's only my tension that's holding me together.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

Some of my troubles are so familiar, I know them by their first names.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

What song the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture.
     Sir Thomas Browne, Urn Burial; or, Hydriotaphia (1658)

 

I never worry that all hell will break loose. My concern is that only part of hell will break loose and be much harder to detect.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)

 

It isn't that they can't see the solution. It is that they can't see the problem.
     G. K. Chesterton, The Scandal of Father Brown (1935)
     "The Point of a Pin"

 

The actual tragedies of life bear no relation to one's preconceived ideas. In the event, one is always bewildered by their simplicity, their grandeur of design, and by that element of the bizarre which seems inherent in them.
     Jean Cocteau, Les Enfants Terribles (1929)

 

According to Lewis Bornheim, a crisis is a situation in which a previously tolerable set of circumstances is suddenly, by the addition of another factor, rendered wholly intolerable.
     Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain (1969)

 

Each problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems.
     René Descartes, Le Discours de la Méthode (1637)

 

When you don't have any money, the problem is food. When you have money, it's sex. When you have both, it's health. If everything is simply jake, then you're frightened of death.
     J. P. Donleavy, The Ginger Man (1955)

 

"As the man said, for every complex problem there's a simple solution, and it's wrong."
     Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum (1988)

 

To accuse others for one's own misfortunes is a sign of want of education. To accuse oneself shows that one's education has begun. To accuse neither oneself nor others shows that one's education is complete.
     Epictetus

 

Problems worthy
of attack
prove their worth
by hitting back.
     Piet Hein

 

We feel free when we escape — even if it be but from the frying pan into the fire.
     Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954)

 

The way out of trouble is never as simple as the way in.
     Ed Howe

 

Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns; I am thankful that thorns have roses.
     Alphonse Karr

 

Long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run, we are all dead.
     John Maynard Keynes

 

Troubles, I don't have to tell you, don't come at a gallop, like the Huns, but arrive quietly, stealthily, like epidemics.
     Primo Levi, The Periodic Table (1975)
     "Silver"

 

The cause of the problem is often prior solutions.
     Amory Lovins

 

There is always an easy solution to every human problem — neat, plausible, and wrong.
     H. L. Mencken

 

Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.
     American Proverb

 

No problem is so big or so complicated that it can't be run away from!
     Linus Van Pelt in Charles M. Schulz, 
     You Can Do It, Charlie Brown ("Peanuts," 1963)

 

"Well, Scotty, now you've done it."
"Aye. The haggis is in the fire for sure."
     McCoy and Scotty, "A Taste of Armageddon"
     STAR TREK The Original Series

 

This may be difficult for you to accept, but you are not in Montana anymore.
     Captain Picard to Lily in STAR TREK First Contact

 

"What shall we do, what shall we do!" he [Bilbo] cried. "Escaping goblins to be caught by wolves!" he said, and it became a proverb, though we now say 'out of the frying-pan into the fire' in the same sort of uncomfortable situations.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)

 

Smaug was still to be reckoned with. It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)

 

I have a feeling nothing's gonna happen to me today that I can handle.
     Tom Wilson

 

If I ever managed to "get it all together," I have a feeling I wouldn't know what to do with it.
     Tom Wilson

 

If they ever have a series about me on TV, it'd be a situation tragedy.
     Tom Wilson

 

 

The Progress of Civilization
and the Civilization of Progress

 

Nobody would try anything new if they understood the consequences. Therefore, all progress is based on faulty assumptions.
     Dogbert in Scott Adams, Build A Better Life By Stealing Office 
     Supplies: Dogbert's Big Book of Business ("Dilbert," 1991)

 

Why must all progress start out as something annoying?
     Dogbert in Scott Adams, It's Obvious You Won't 
     Survive By Your Wits Alone ("Dilbert," 1995)

 

He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.
     Francis Bacon, Essays (1625)
     "On Innovations"

 

Inside Facts About Progress (1): Progress is what people who are planning to do something really terrible almost always justify themselves on the grounds of.
     Russell Baker, Poor Russell's Almanac (1972)

 

Inside Facts About Progress (2): Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse the progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things.
     Russell Baker, Poor Russell's Almanac (1972)

 

Inside Facts About Progress (4): Frozen food is not progress.
     Russell Baker, Poor Russell's Almanac (1972)

 

I respect kindness to human beings first of all, and kindness to animals. I don't respect the law; I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society except that which makes the roads safer, the beer stronger, the food cheaper, and old men and women warmer in the winter, and happier in the summer.
     Brendan Behan

 

[Commenting on a newspaper caption labeling a "Remarkably accurate and artistic painting of a goose, from Pharaoh Akhenaton's palace, drawn 3,300 years ago."] "What I want to know is why the 'remarkable'? Why should we be surprised that the people who built the pyramids could also draw a goose so that it looked like a goose?"
     Robert Benchley, quoted in a letter to the editor 
     in Natural History (September 1996)

 

Lock-and-key, n. The distinguishing device of civilization and enlightenment.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Malefactor, n. The chief factor in the progress of the human race.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Noise, n. A stench in the ear. Undomesticated music. The chief product and authenticating sign of civilization.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

The reports on human progress are beginning to come in, and some are a little discouraging.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

You can't stop progress, but you can help decide what is progress and what isn't.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

In spite of the new horrors that madmen can perpetrate when their clutches fall upon modern technology, we have made progress. Looking past the attention-grabbing headlines, and countless modern tragedies, it really is a more reasoning, more rational world we live in today.
     David Brin, Otherness (1994)
     "The Dogma of Otherness" (1986)

 

Frantic arguments go on and charts and graphs are presented to show that things are better, much worse or just the same. It all depends upon the chartmaker, where the design appears, and whether you have the blame thing right side up.
     Heywood Broun, quoted in Robert E. Drennan (ed.), 
     The Algonquin Wits (1985)

 

No question, we live in interesting times. We have a hole in our ozone, acid rain, giant hurricanes, fires, floods, epidemics, and droughts. Species are becoming extinct before we've even had a chance to exploit them.
     A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture: 
     An American Commentary (1991)

 

Of all the tragic losses since the 1950s, mimeograph paper may be the greatest. With its rapturously fragrant, sweetly aromatic pale blue ink, mimeograph paper was literally intoxicating. Two deep drafts of a freshly run-off mimeograph worksheet and I would be the education system's willing slave for up to seven hours. Go to any crack house and ask the people where their dependency started and they will tell you, I'm certain, that it was with mimeograph paper in the second grade.
     Bill Bryson

 

All progress is based on a universal innate desire on the part of every organism to live beyond its income.
     Samuel Butler, Note-Books (1912)
     "Life"

 

I don't think we really gave barbarism a fair try.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

When I was young I used to read about the decline of Western civilization, and I decided it was something I would like to make a contribution to.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)

 

Civilization began its downhill path the day some guy first uttered the words, "A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do."
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)

 

In an underdeveloped country, don't drink the water; in a developed country, don't breathe the air.
     Changing Times Magazine

 

Progress is the mother of all problems.
     G. K. Chesterton

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way — in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
     Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

 

The work of the world is done on hate. All work done well is well done only when persons hate work done shoddily. Justice can exist only when injustice is hated, laws only when lawlessness is hated, and education only when ignorance is hated. Every improvement this world has ever known was brought about because someone hated intolerable conditions.
     Jane Dunlap, Exploring Inner Space (1961)

 

Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal.
     Albert Einstein

 

What we call "progress" is the exchange of one nuisance for another nuisance.
     Havelock Ellis

 

We think our civilization near its meridian, but we are yet only at the cock-crowing and the morning star.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

People wish to be settled: only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series (1841)

 

The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of cities, nor the crops — no, but the kind of men the country turns out.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude (1870)
     "Civilization"

 

With every passing hour our solar system comes forty-three thousand miles closer to globular cluster M13 in the constellation Hercules, and still there are some misfits who continue to insist that there is no such thing as progress.
     Ransom K. Ferm

 

Furnished as all Europe now is with Academies of Science, with nice instruments and the spirit of experiment, the progress of human knowledge will be rapid and discoveries made of which we have at present no conception. I begin to be almost sorry I was born so soon, since I cannot have the happiness of knowing what will be known a hundred years hence.
     Benjamin Franklin, letter to Sir Joseph Banks, 
     President of the Royal Society (27 July 1783)

 

[Asked, on his arrival in Europe, what he thought of Western civilization] 'I think it would be an excellent idea.'
     Mohandas [Mahatma] Karamchand Gandhi

 

There is more to life than increasing its speed.
     Mohandas [Mahatma] Karamchand Gandhi

 

The resources of civilization against its enemies are not yet exhausted.
     William Ewart Gladstone, Speech at Leeds, 7 October 1881 
     in H. W. Lucy (ed.) Speeches of . . . Gladstone (1885)

 

Whether we like it or not, the world we live in has changed a great deal in the last hundred years, and it is likely to change even more in the next hundred. Some people would like to stop these changes and go back to what they see as a purer and simpler age. But as history shows, the past was not that wonderful. It was not so bad for a privileged minority, though even they had to do without modern medicine, and childbirth was highly risky for women. But for the vast majority of the population, life was nasty, brutish, and short.
     Stephen William Hawking, Black Holes and 
     Baby Universes and Other Essays (1993)

 

Last year we said, "Things can't go on like this." And they didn't: they got worse.
     Elbert Hubbard

 

The path of civilization is paved with tin cans.
     Elbert Hubbard

 

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.
     Elbert Hubbard

 

If you would civilize a man, begin with his grandmother.
     Victor Hugo

 

As for ourselves, we distribute our respect here and there, and spare the past entirely, provided it consents to be dead. But, if it insists on being alive, we attack and try to kill it.
     Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862)

 

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards.
     Aldous Huxley

 

Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence — those are the three pillars of Western prosperity.
     Aldous Huxley, Island

 

The true civilization is where every man gives to every other every right that he claims for himself.
     Robert Ingersoll

 

For a list of all the ways technology has failed to improve the quality of life, please press 3.
     Alice Kahn

 

Every now and then, in the course of great events, the elements of tradition and innovation ally themselves and each one's weakness supplements the other and together they achieve the perfect debacle.
     Murray Kempton

 

Wonderful little, when all is said,
     Wonderful little our fathers knew.
Half their remedies cured you dead —
     Most of their teaching was quite untrue —
"Look at the stars when a patient is ill.
     (Dirt has nothing to do with disease),
Bleed and blister as much as you will,
     Blister and bleed him as oft as you please."
Whence enormous and manifold
     Errors were made by our fathers of old.
          Rudyard Kipling "Our Fathers Of Old"

 

If it is the great delusion of moralists to suppose that all previous ages were less sinful than their own, then it is the great delusion of intellectuals to suppose that all previous ages were less sick.
     Louis Kronenberger, Contemporary Manners (1954)

 

"An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral. And the advance of man's knowledge is more of a miracle than any sticks turned to snakes, or the parting of waters! ... Gentlemen, progress has never been a bargain. You've got to pay for it. Sometimes I think there's a man behind a counter who says, "All right, you can have a telephone; but you'll have to give up privacy, the charm of distance. Madam, you may vote; but at a price; you lose the right to retreat behind a powder-puff or a petticoat. Mister, you may conquer the air; but the birds will lose their wonder, and the clouds will smell of gasoline!" Darwin moved us forward to a hilltop, where we could look back and see the way from which we came. But for this view, this insight, this knowledge, we must abandon our faith in the pleasant poetry of Genesis."
     Henry Drummond in Jerome Lawrence and 
     Robert E. Lee, Inherit the Wind (play, 1955)

 

At the beginning there was the Word — at the end just the Cliche.
     Stanislaw J. Lem

 

Perhaps in time the so-called dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.
     Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

 

The chief obstacle to the progress of the human race is the human race.
     Don Marquis

 

Human beings never welcome the news that something they have long cherished is untrue: they almost always reply to that news by reviling its promulgator. Nevertheless, a minority of bold and energetic men keep plugging away, and as a result of their hard labors and resultant infamy the sum of human knowledge gradually increases.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)

 

Progress might have been all right once but it has gone on too long.
     Ogden Nash

 

That's the funny thing about progress. You can't always tell when it's happening.
     Newhart (TV series)

 

Ethics changes with technology.
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

Each generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.
     George Orwell

 

It would be an exaggeration to say that throughout history there has been no progress of a material kind. Even today, in a period of decline, the average human being is physically better off than he was a few centuries ago. But no advance in wealth, no softening of manners, no reform or revolution has ever brought human equality a millimeter nearer. From the point of view of the law, no historic change has ever meant much more than a change in the name of the masters.
     George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

 

Let others praise ancient times; I am glad I was born in these.
     Ovid

 

It is remarkable that creatures who have evolved to find food and avoid predators should be capable of writing sonnets and doing integral calculus — much less operating a VCR. But no matter how clever we are at doing these things, the modern world of jet travel and computers bears little resemblance to the primitive world in which we evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. The wonder is not that some of us act strangely at times, but that we cope at all in today's alien world.
     Robert J. Park "Tyrannosaurus Hex" (Skeptical Inquirer, 18:2, Winter 1994)

 

We make progress if, and only if, we are prepared to learn from our mistakes. [Added by Kelvin Throop: And if we are not afraid to make mistakes from which we can learn.]
     Sir Karl Raimund Popper

 

Progress just means bad things happen faster.
     Granny Weatherwax in Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad (1991)

 

A hundred years ago we were much smarter; then you lived until you died and not until you were just run over.
     Will Rogers

 

You can't say civilization don't advance . . . in every war they kill you a new way.
     Will Rogers

 

Change is one thing, progress is another. "Change" is scientific, "progress" is ethical; change is indisputable, whereas progress is a matter of controversy.
     Bertrand Russell

 

Neither misery nor folly seems to me any part of the inevitable lot of man. And I am convinced that intelligence, patience, and eloquence can, sooner or later, lead the human race out of its self-imposed tortures provided it does not exterminate itself meanwhile. On the basis of this belief, I have had always a certain degree of optimism, although, as I have grown older, the optimism has grown more sober and the happy issue more distant. But I remain completely incapable of agreeing with those who accept fatalistically the view that man is born to trouble.
     Bertrand Russell

 

Our own planet, in which philosophers are apt to take a parochial and excessive interest, was once too hot to support life, and will in time be too cold. After ages during which the earth produced harmless trilobites and butterflies, evolution progressed to the point at which it generated Neros, Genghis Khans, and Hitlers. This, however, is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return.
     Bertrand Russell

 

Organic life, we are told, has developed gradually from the protozoan to the philosopher, and this development, we are assured, is indubitably an advance. Unfortunately it is the philosopher, not the protozoan, who gives us this assurance.
     Bertrand Russell, Mysticism and Logic (1917)

 

The ash of stellar alchemy was now emerging into consciousness. At an ever-accelerating pace, it invented writing, cities, art and science, and sent spaceships to the planets and the stars. These are some of the things that hydrogen atoms do, given fifteen billion years of cosmic evolution.
     Carl Sagan, Cosmos (1980)

 

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)

 

"We think of ourselves as the most powerful beings in the universe; it's unsettling to discover that we're wrong."
"Captain, it took millions of years for the Organians to evolve into what they are. Even the gods did not spring into being overnight. You and I have no reason to be embarrassed."
     Kirk and Spock, "Errand of Mercy"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

"I see you never learned to type."
"Turn-of-the-millenium technology wasn't a required course at the Academy. It's like stone knives and bearskins."
     Chakotay and Janeway, "Future's End"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager

 

Even while I protest the assembly-line production of our food, our songs, our language, and eventually our souls, I know that it was a rare home that baked good bread in the old days. Mother's cooking was with rare exceptions poor, that good unpasteurized milk touched only by flies and bits of manure crawled with bacteria, the healthy old-time life was riddled with aches, sudden death from unknown causes, and that sweet local speech I mourn was the child of illiteracy and ignorance. It is the nature of a man as he grows older, a small bridge in time, to protest against change, particularly change for the better. But it is true that we have exchanged corpulence for starvation, and either one will kill us.
     John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley: In Search of America (1962)

 

The human race has improved everything except the human race.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson

 

All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson, Speech, Princeton (1954)

 

It is not your obligation to complete the work [of perfecting the world], but neither are you free from doing all you can.
     Talmud, Ethics of the Fathers, 2:21

 

Thank God men cannot as yet fly and lay waste the sky as well as the earth!
     Henry David Thoreau

 

Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts, of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)
     "Economy"

 

The civilized man is a more experienced and wiser savage.
     Henry David Thoreau, Walden, or, Life in the Woods (1854)
     "Economy"

 

Progress was all right. Only it went on too long.
     James Thurber

 

[We are in] the first age since the dawn of civilisation in which people have dared to think it praticable to make the benefits of civilisation available to the whole human race.
     Arnold Toynbee

 

The heaven and hell of the wildcat religions are vague and ill defined but there is nothing mixed about the Presbyterian heaven and hell. The Presbyterian hell is all misery; the heaven all happiness — nothing to do. But when a man dies on a wildcat basis, he will never rightly know hereafter which department he is in — but he will think he is in hell anyhow, no matter which place he goes to; because in the good place they pro-gress, pro-gress, pro-gress — study, study, study, all the time — and if this isn't hell I don't know what is; and in the bad place he will be worried by remorse of conscience. Their bad place is preferable, though, because eternity is long, and before a man got half through it he would forget what it was he had been so sorry about. Naturally he would then become cheerful again; but the party who went to heaven would go on progressing and progressing, and studying and studying until he would finally get discourages and wish he were in hell, where he wouldn't require such a splendid education.
     Mark Twain, "Reflections on the Sabbath" (1866)

 

[Soon after the missionaries began arriving in Hawaii, they imported clothing, and encouraged the natives not to come to church naked anymore. Not having much experience, they wore the clothing in bizarre ways.] They gazed at each other with happy admiration, and it was plain to see that the young girls were taking note of what each other had on, as naturally as if they had always lived in a land of Bibles and knew what churches were made for; here was the evidence of a dawning civilization.
     Mark Twain, Roughing It (1872)

 

We have not the reverent feeling for the rainbow that a savage has, because we know how it is made. We have lost as much as we gained by prying into that matter.
     Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)

 

... all the modern inconveniences.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

 

How solemn and beautiful is the thought, that the earliest pioneer of civilization, the van-leader of civilization, is never the steamboat, never the railroad, never the newspaper, never the Sabbath-school teacher, never the missionary — but always whisky!
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

 

If I were required to guess offhand, and without collusion with higher minds, what is the bottom cause of the amazing material and intellectual advancement of the last fifty years, I should guess that it was the modern-born and previously non-existent disposition on the part of men to believe that a new idea can have value.
     Mark Twain, "A Majestic Literary Fossil" (1890)

 

... how old is real civilization? The answer is easy and unassailable. A century ago it had not appeared anywhere in the world during a single instant since the world was made. ... [T]here is today but one real civilization in the world, and it is not yet thirty years old. We made the trip and hoisted its flag when we disposed of our slavery.
     Mark Twain, "On Foreign Critics" (speech, 1890)

 

And there was another curiosity — quite a stunning one, I thought: Arrow-heads and knives just like those which Primeval Man made out of flint, and thought he had done such a wonderful thing — yes, and has been humored and coddled in that superstition by this age of admiring scientists until there is probably no living with him in the other world by now. Yet here is his finest and nicest work exactly duplicated in our day; and by people who have never heard of him or his works: by aborigines who lived in the islands of these seas, within our time. ... It is time for Primeval Man to make a little less noise, now. He has had his day. He is not what he used to be.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

 

We have reached a little altitude where we may look down upon the Indian Thugs with a complacent shudder; and we may even hope for a day, many centuries hence, when our posterity will look down upon us in the same way.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

 

... let us hope that when we come to answer the call and deliver the land from its errors, we shall secrete from it some of our high-civilization ways, and at the same time borrow some of its pagan ways to enrich our high system with. We have a right to do this. If we lift those people up, we have a right to lift ourselves up nine or ten grades or so, at their expense.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

 

Time and tide wait for no man. A pompous and self-satisfied proverb, and was true for a billion years; but in our day of electric wires and water-ballast we turn it around: Man waits not for time nor tide.
     Mark Twain, More Tramps Abroad (1897)
     [British edition of Following the Equator]
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

"It is a remarkable progress. In five or six thousand years five or six high civilizations have risen, flourished, commanded the wonder of the world, then faded out and disappeared; and not one of them except the latest ever invented any sweeping and adequate way to kill people. They all did their best — to kill being the chiefest ambition of the human race and the earliest incident in its history — but only the Christian civilization has scored a triumph to be proud of. Two or three centuries from now it will be recognized that all the competent killers are Christians; then the pagan world will go to school to the Christian — not to acquire his religion, but his guns. The Turk and the Chinaman will buy those, to kill missionaries and converts with."
     Mark Twain, "The Chronicle of Young Satan" (1897-1900)

 

Civilizations proceed from the heart rather than from the head.
     Mark Twain, letter to Albert Sonnichsen (1901)

 

The pulpit and the optimist are always talking about the human race's steady march toward ultimate perfection. As usual, they leave out the statistics. It is the pulpit's way — the optimist's way.
     Mark Twain, "Reflections on Religion" (from Mark 
     Twain's Autobiography, June 22, 1906)

 

We are accustomed to seeing the hand of Providence in everything. Accustomed, because if we missed it, or thought we missed it, we had discretion enough not to let on. We are a tactful race. We have been prompt to give Providence the credit of this fine and showy new civilization and we have been quite intemperate in our praises of this great benefaction; we have not been able to keep still over this splendid five-minute attention; we can only keep still about the ages of neglect which preceded it and which it makes so conspicuous.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

 

Civilization is a limitless multiplication of unnecessary necessaries.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Difference between savage and civilized man: one is painted, the other gilded.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was an attempt to imagine, and after a fashion set forth, the hard conditions of life for the laboring and defenseless poor in bygone times in England, and incidentally contrast these conditions with those under which the civil and ecclesiastical pets of privilege and high fortune lived in those times. I think I was purposing to contrast that English life, not just the English life of Arthur's day but the English life of the whole of the Middle Ages, with the life of modern Christendom and modern civilization — to the advantage of the latter, or course.
     Mark Twain, Bernard DeVoto (ed.), 
     Mark Twain in Eruption (1940)

 

If there hadn't been women we'd still be squatting in a cave eating raw meat, because we made civilization in order to impress our girlfriends.
     Orson Welles

 

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.
     Alfred North Whitehead

 

It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle — they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.
     Alfred North Whitehead, An Introduction to Mathematics (1911)

 

It is the business of the future to be dangerous. ... The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.
     Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (1933)

 

Agitators are a set of interfering meddling people, who come down to some perfectly contented class of the community and sow the seeds of discontent among them. That is the reason why agitators are so absolutely necessary. Without them in our incomplete state, there would be no advance towards civilization.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism" (1891)

 

Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man's original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and rebellion.
     Oscar Wilde, "The Soul of Man under Socialism" (1891)

 

Discomfort is the first step in the progress of a man or a nation.
     Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance (1893)

 

Sure the world's a mess now, but look at the bright side. Things will probably get worse! Then these will seem like the good old days!
     Tom Wilson

 

The West Indian is not exactly hostile to change, but he is not much inclined to believe in it. This comes from a piece of wisdom that his climate of eternal summer teaches him. It is that, under all the parade of human effort and noise, today is like yesterday, and tomorrow will be like today; that existence is a wheel of recurring patterns from which no one escapes; that all anybody does in this life is live for a while and then die for good, without finding out much; and that therefore the idea is to take things easy and enjoy the passing time under the sun.
     Herman Wouk, Don't Stop the Carnival (1965)

 

 

Promises, Promises

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
And miles to go before I sleep.
     Robert Frost, "Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening"

 

I never could keep a promise. I do not blame myself for this weakness, because the fault must lie in my physical organization. It is likely that such a very liberal amount of space was given to the organ which enables me to make promises, that the organ which should enable me to keep them was crowded out. But I grieve not. I like no half-way things. I had rather have one faculty nobly developed than two faculties of mere ordinary capacity.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 

I have no fault to find with the manner in which our excursion was conducted. Its programme was faithfully carried out — a thing which surprised me, for great enterprises usually promise vastly more than they perform.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 

... to promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)

 

Better a broken promise than none at all.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

 

Prophecy and Prediction

 

Don't every prophesy; for if you prophesy wrong, nobody will forget it; and if you prophesy right, nobody will remember it.
     Josh Billings

 

Ambiguity is the prophet's major stock in trade.
     David Brin, Otherness (1994)
     "Whose Millennium?" (1994)

 

From time to time, as we all know, a sect appears in our midst announcing that the world will very soon come to an end. Generally, by some slight confusion or miscalculation, it is the sect that comes to an end.
     G. K. Chesterton, The Illustrated London News (September 24, 1927)

 

I wonder that a soothsayer doesn't laugh whenever he sees another soothsayer.
     Marcus Tullius Cicero

 

It does not pay a prophet to be too specific.
     L. Sprague de Camp

 

Fear prophets . . . and those prepared to die for the truth, for as a rule they make many others die with them, often before them, at times instead of them.
     Umberto Eco

 

The best of seers is he who guesses well.
     Euripides

 

'Tis easy to see, hard to foresee.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Quotations (1975)

 

There are two classes of people who tell that is going to happen in the future: those who don't know, and those who don't know they don't know.
     John Kenneth Galbraith

 

We humans may be the smartest objects that ever came down the pike of life's history on earth, but we are outstandingly inept about certain issues, particularly when our emotional arrogance joins forces with our intellectual ignorance. Our inability to forecast the future lies foremost among these ineptitudes — not, in this case, as a limitation of our brains, but more as a principled consequence of the world's genuine complexity and indeterminism.
     Stephen Jay Gould "Above All, Do No Harm" 
     (Natural History, October 1998, p. 16)

 

Forecast: to observe that which has passed, and guess it will happen again.
     Elbert Hubbard

 

You can only predict things after they've happened.
     Eugene Ionesco

 

Our future is not written, it is not certain: we have awakened from a long sleep, and we have seen that the human condition is incompatible with certainty. No prophet any longer dares to reveal our tomorrow to us, and this, the eclipse of prophets, is a bitter but necessary medicine. We must build our own tomorrow, blindly, gropingly; build it from its roots without giving in to the temptation to recompose the shards of old shattered idols and without constructing new ones.
     Primo Levi, Other People's Trades (1989)
     "Eclipse of the Prophets"

 

Soothsayers make a better living in the world than truthsayers.
     Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms (1799)

 

It is bad enough to know the past; it would be intolerable to know the future.
     W. Somerset Maugham, in Richard Hughes, Foreign Devil (1972)

 

Wise folk may or may not form expectations about what the future holds in store but the foolish can be relied upon to predict with complete confidence that certain things will come about in the future or that others will not.
     Peter Medawar, "Expectation and Prediction" (1982)
     reprinted in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice 
     and Other Classic Essays on Science (1996)

 

The turn of the millennium (2000/2001) will make severe demands upon soothsayers and I expect some readers of this article will be invited to make pronouncements upon, for example, 'air travel / psychiatry / podiatry in the third millennium ad'. I should like to give literally one word of advice to all who are invited to make such predictions: Don't.
     Peter Medawar, "Expectation and Prediction" (1982)
     reprinted in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice 
     and Other Classic Essays on Science (1996)

 

The one thing common to all prophets is their belief in their own infallibility.
     H. L. Mencken, Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (1956)

 

Peter's Nonreciprocal Law of Predictions: Negative predictions yield negative results; positive predictions yield negative results.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

The more unpredictable the world becomes, the more we rely on predictions.
     Steve Rivkin

 

I like also the men who study the Great Pyramid, with a view to deciphering its mystical lore. Many great books have been written on this subject, some of which have been presented to me by their authors. It is a singular fact that the Great Pyramid always predicts the history of the world accurately up to the date of the publication of the book in question, but after that date it becomes less reliable. Generally the author expects, very soon, wars in Egypt, followed by Armageddon and the coming of the Antichrist, but by this time so many people have been recognized as Antichrist that the reader is reluctantly driven to skepticism.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish"

 

A clear prediction in an area undergoing vigorous study permit doctrines to be subject to disproof. The last posture a bureaucratic religion wishes to find itself in is vulnerability to disproof, where an experiment can be performed on which the religion stands or falls. ... Doctrines that make no predictions are less compelling than those which make correct predictions; they are in turn more successful than doctrines that make false predictions.
     Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979)
     "A Sunday Sermon"

 

Predictions of surprising events always prove more accurate if not set down on paper beforehand.
     Carl Sagan, Contact (1985)

 

If you keep saying things are going to be bad, you have a chance of being a prophet.
     Isaac Bashevis Singer

 

The fellow that can only see a week ahead is always the popular fellow, for he is looking with the crowd. But the one that can see years ahead, he has a telescope but he can't make anybody believe he has it.
     Mark Twain

 

The information the ancients didn't have was very voluminous. Even the prophets wrote book after book and epistle after epistle, yet never once hinted at the existence of a great continent on our side of the water; yet they must have known it was there, I should think.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 

There are not books enough on earth to contain the record of the prophecies Indians and other unauthorized parties have made; but one may carry in his overcoat pockets the record of all the prophecies that have been fulfilled.
     Mark Twain, "A Burlesque Biography" (1871)

 

"Yes, a genuine expert can always foretell a thing that is five hundred years away easier than he can a thing that's only five hundred seconds off."
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

 

I have done some indiscreet things in my day, but this thing of playing myself for a prophet was the worst. Still it had its ameliorations. A prophet doesn't have to have any brains. They are good to have, of course, for the ordinary exigencies of life, but they are no use in professional work. It is the restfulest vocation there is. When the spirit of prophecy comes upon you, you merely cake your intellect and lay it off in a cool place for a rest, and unship your jaw and leave it alone; it will work itself: the result is Prophecy.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

 

... prophecies boldly uttered never fall barren on superstitious ears.
     Mark Twain, The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)

 

Now and then, in this world, somebody's prophecy turns up correct, but when you come to look into it there is sure to be considerable room for suspicion that the prophecy was made after the fact.
     Mark Twain, The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)

 

... a man who goes around with a prophecy-gun ought never to get discouraged; if he will keep up his heart and fire at everything he sees, he is bound to hit something by and by.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
     (North American Review, 1906-1907)

 

There is no prophecy in our day but history. But history is a trustworthy prophet. History is always repeating itself, because conditions are always repeating themselves. Out of duplicated conditions history always gets a duplicate product.
     Mark Twain, Christian Science (1907)

 

I cannot believe that the prediction will come true, for the reason that prophecies which promise valuable things, desirable things, good things, worthy things, never come true. Prophecies of this kind are like wars fought in a good cause — they are so rare that they don't count.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

 

Prophecy: Two bull's eyes out of a possible million.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

The wisest prophets make sure of the event first.
     Horace Walpole

 

I didn't know it then, but looking back, in hindsight, I realize that when I was younger I could see into the future. Now I'm getting all my premonitions as flashbacks.
     Steven Wright

 

 

Proverbs and Maxims

 

[Algren] shunts aside all rules, regulations, and dicta, except for three laws that he says a nice little old Negro lady once taught him: Never play cards with any man named "Doc." Never eat at any place called "Mom's." And never, ever, no matter what else you do in your life, never sleep with anyone whose troubles are worse than your own.
     Nelson Algren, from H. E. F. Donohue,
     Conversations with Nelson Algren
(1964)

 

When you are at Rome live in the Roman style; when you are elsewhere live as they live elsewhere.
     Saint Ambrose, advice to Saint Augustine

 

We never understand how little we need in this world until we know the loss of it.
     J. M. Barrie, Margaret Olgivy (1896)

 

Never lick a steak knife.
     Dave Barry

 

Never under any circumstances take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.
     Dave Barry

 

Take out the fortune before you eat the cookie.
     Dave Barry

 

It ain't over till it's over.
     Yogi Berra

 

The quickest way to take the starch out of a man who is always blaming himself is to agree with him.
     Josh Billings

 

The wheel that squeaks the loudest / Is the one that gets the grease.
     Josh Billings, "The Kicker"

 

Look twice before you leap.
     Charlotte Brontë, Shirley (1849)

 

The most reliable sailor is one who never learned to swim.
     A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture: 
     An American Commentary (1991)

 

The right combination of guilt and machismo has sent many a fool out into the jungle when he should have stayed home.
     Jimmy Buffett, Tales From Margaritaville: Fictional 
     Facts and Factual Fictions (1989)
     "Sometimes I Feel Like A Rudderless Child"

 

Trifles make perfection — and perfection is no trifle.
     Michelangelo Buonarroti, attributed

 

Make no little plans, they have no power to stir men's souls.
     Daniel Hudson Burnham, deviser of Lake Front park in Chicago, 
     quoted in Charles Moore, Daniel H. Burnham (1921)

 

Charm is ... a way of getting the answer yes without having asked any clear question.
     Albert Camus, The Fall (1956)

 

You can get more with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone.
     Al Capone

 

If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

 

They keep saying you can't compare apples and oranges. I can. An apple is red and distinctly non-spherical; and orange is orange and nearly spherical. So, what's the big problem?
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

 

Always do whatever's next.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

 

The caterpillar does all the work, but the butterfly gets all the publicity.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)

 

'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'
     Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)

 

The longer one saves something before throwing it away, the sooner it will be needed after it is thrown away.
     James J. Caufield

 

Swallow a toad in the morning if you want to encounter nothing more disgusting the rest of the day.
     Nicolas Chamfort

 

All generalizations are false, including this one.
     Alexander Chase, Perspectives (1966)

 

There is no need to do any housework at all. After the first four years the dirt doesn't get any worse.
     Quentin Crisp

 

I have suffered from being misunderstood, but I would have suffered a hell of a lot more if I had been understood.
     Clarence Darrow

 

What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.
     Benjamin Disraeli

 

"It is grotesque, Watson," Holmes added, as he slowly fastened his notebook, "but, as I have had occasion to remark, there is but one step from the grotesque to the horrible."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
     His Last Bow (1917)
     "The Adventure of Wisteria Lodge"

 

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
     Albert Einstein

 

Rule Number 1 is, don't sweat the small stuff. Rule Number 2 is, it's all small stuff. And if you can't fight and you can't flee, flow.
     Robert S. Eliot

 

Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

In skating over thin ice our safety is in our speed.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: First Series (1841)
     "Prudence"

 

Every man is wanted, and no man is wanted much.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: Second Series (1844)
     "Nominalist and Realist"

 

Never give a sucker an even break.
     W. C. Fields

 

Hide not your talents, they for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?
     Benjamin Franklin

 

Tart words make no friends: a spoonful of honey will catch more flies than a gallon of vinegar.
     Benjamin Franklin

 

We may give advice but we cannot give conduct.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

When you're an anvil, hold you still; when you're a hammer, strike your fill.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

Necessity never made a good bargain.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

An empty bag cannot stand upright.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

When the well's dry, we know the worth of water.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

Little strokes / Fell great oaks.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

A word to the wise is enough, and many words won't fill a bushel.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

A little neglect may breed great mischief: ... for want of a nail the shoe was lost; for want of a shoe the horse was lost; for want of a horse the rider was lost.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac

 

A good example is the best sermon.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Quotations (1975)

He that lies down with Dogs, shall rise up with fleas.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Quotations (1975)

 

The absent are never without fault, nor the present without excuse.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Quotations (1975)

 

Well done is better than well said.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Quotations (1975)

 

Don't ever take a fence down until you know why it was put up.
     Robert Frost

 

Don't die.
     William M. Gaines

 

The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest of navigators.
     Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and 
     Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788)

 

You can lead a horse to water — but before you push him in, just stop and think how a wet horse smells.
     George Gobel

 

Never contend with a man who has nothing to lose.
     Baltasar Gracián, The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)

 

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.
     Edward Everett Hale

 

Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and utterly despised.
     Tony Hendra, The Book of Bad Virtues: 
     A Treasury of Immorality (1994)

 

There are two kinds of worries — those you can do something about and those you can't. Don't spend any time on the latter. (Advice from Duke Ellington)
     Nat Hentoff

 

Sacred cows make the best hamburger.
     Abbie Hoffman

 

It's going to be fun to watch and see how long the meek can keep the earth after they inherit it.
     Kin Hubbard

 

Proverbs are always platitudes until you have personally experienced the truth of them.
     Aldous Huxley, Jesting Pilate (1926)

 

The ends cannot justify the means for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determine the nature of the ends produced.
     Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means (1937)

 

Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.
     Thomas Jefferson

 

Never buy what you do not want, because it is cheap; it will be dear to you.
     Thomas Jefferson, "Decalogue of Canons for Observation 
     in Practical Life" (February 21, 1825)

 

Curiosity is one of the permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous mind.
     Samuel Johnson, The Rambler (1751)

 

Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.
     Samuel Johnson, Rasselas (1759)

 

Sumus quod sumus. We are what we are.
     Motto of Lake Wobegon in Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

 

People always are encouraging about a terrible loss, so that sometimes the loser would like to strangle them.
     Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days (1985)

 

Time's fun when you're having flies.
     Kermit the Frog

 

Who shall doubt "the secret hid
Under Egypt's pyramid"
Was that the contractor did
Cheops out of several millions?
     Rudyard Kipling

 

My pappy told me never to bet my bladder against a brewery or get into an argument with people who buy ink by the barrel.
     Lane Kirkland

 

If the Creator had a purpose in equipping us with a neck, he surely meant for us to stick it out.
     Arthur Koestler, Encounter (May 1970)

 

The measure of choosing well, is, whether a man likes and finds good in what he has chosen.
     Charles Lamb

 

Humility is no substitute for a good personality.
     Fran Lebowitz

 

Generally speaking, it is inhumane to detain a fleeting insight.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Letters"

 

There is no such thing as inner peace. There is only nervousness or death. Any attempt to prove otherwise constitutes unacceptable behavior.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Manners"

 

Nothing succeeds like address.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "The Nail Bank: Not Just Another Clip Joint"

 

Spilling you guts is just exactly as charming as it sounds.
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "People"

 

The only appropriate reply to the question "Can I be frank?" is "Yes, if I can be Barbara."
     Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)
     "People"

 

Never saw off the branch you are on, unless you are being hanged from it.
     Stanislaw Lec

 

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.
     Stanislaw Lec, More Unkempt Thoughts (1968)

 

"Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird."
     Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird (1960)

 

We were contented because that day (we did not know about the next; but what happens tomorrow is not always important) we could do things which we had not done for too long: drink water from a well, stretch out in the sun in the middle of tall robust grass, smell the summer air, light a fire and cook, go into the woods in search of strawberries and mushrooms, smoke a cigarette looking at the high sky swept clean by the wind.
     Primo Levi, The Reawakening (orig. title The Truce) (1963)

 

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
     Abraham Lincoln

 

When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it is best to let him run.
     Abraham Lincoln

 

It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence, to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: "And this, too, shall pass away." How much it expresses! How chastening in the hour of pride! How consoling in the depths of affliction!
     Abraham Lincoln, Address to the Wisconsin State 
     Agricultural Society, Milwaukee (Sept 30, 1859)

 

I have a simple philosophy. Fill what's empty. Empty what's full. Scratch where it itches.
     Alice Roosevelt Longworth

 

The average person thinks he isn't.
     Father Larry Lorenzoni

 

There's always a bigger fish.
     Qui-Gon Jinn (Liam Neeson) in George Lucas, 
     Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999)

 

She plunged into a sea of platitudes, and with the powerful breast stroke of a channel swimmer, made her confident way towards the white cliffs of the obvious.
     W. Somerset Maugham

 

What has posterity ever done for me?
     Groucho Julius Marx

 

McCabe's Law: Nobody has to do anything.
     Charles McCabe

 

Nothing is obvious unless you are overlooking something.
     Tye McQueen

 

There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness is the true method.
     Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851)

 

Less is more.
     Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, obituary in The Times (19 August 1969)

 

Death and taxes and childbirth! There's never any convenient time for any of them.
     Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind (1936)

 

After all is said and done, it usually is.
     Hester Mundis, 101 Ways To Avoid Reincarnation, 
     or, Getting It Right the First Time (1989)

 

The quickest way to unleash powers you didn't know you had is to buy a Doberman.
     Hester Mundis, 101 Ways To Avoid Reincarnation, 
     or, Getting It Right the First Time (1989)

 

Mistrust those in whom the impulse to punish is strong.
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

 

Not every end is a goal. The end of a melody is not its goal; however, if the melody has not reached its end, it would also not have reached its goal. A parable.
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

 

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.
     Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil (1885-1886)

 

Never throw shit at an armed man.
Never stand next to someone who is throwing shit at an armed man.
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

Never fire a laser at a mirror.
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

There is a time and a place for tact. (And there are times when tact is entirely misplaced.)
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

No technique works if it isn't used.
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

Not responsible for advice not taken.
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

Think before you make the coward's choice. Old age is not for sissies.
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
     Old Adage

 

A bad cause will ever be supported by bad means and bad men.
     Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, No. 2 (January 13, 1777)

 

When authors and critics talk of the sublime, they see not how nearly it borders on the ridiculous.
     Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason, pt. II (1793)

 

Wise men make proverbs, but fools repeat them.
     Samuel Palmer

 

Dirt is not dirt, but only matter in the wrong place.
     Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston

 

When people say less is more, I say more is more. Less is less. I want more.
     Dolly Parton

 

We've upped our standards. Up yours.
     Pat Paulsen

 

Peter's Bicycling Law: No matter which direction you go, it's uphill and against the wind.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

Peter's Primary Principle: When two people go to bed together at the same time, the one that snores will fall asleep first.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

Peter's Theory of Relativity: The red light is always longer than the green light.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

The most useful of all social graces is the ability to yawn with your mouth closed.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

Today if you're not confused, you're just not thinking clearly.
     Laurence Johnston Peter

 

Competence, like truth, beauty and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder.
     Laurence Johnston Peter, The Peter Principle (1969)

 

He is a fool who lets slip a bird in the hand for a bird in the bush.
     Plutarch

 

There are three roads to ruin; women, gambling and technicians. The most pleasant is with women, the quickest is with gambling, but the surest is with technicians.
     Georges Pompidou, Sunday Telegraph (26 May 1968)
          [What about gambling with female technicians?]

 

Familiarity breeds.
     Mary Pettibone Poole

 

It is with narrow-souled people as with narrow-necked bottles; the less they have in them the more noise they make in pouring out.
     Alexander Pope, Thoughts on Various Subjects (1727)

 

Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.
    Terry Pratchett, Jingo (1997)

 

A good name will wear out; a bad one may be turned; a nickname lasts forever.
     Proverb

 

A nickname is the heaviest stone the devil can throw at a man.
     Proverb

 

A plucked goose doesn't lay golden eggs.
     Proverb

 

'Tis better that a man's own works, than another man's words should praise him.
     Proverb

 

'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view, and robes the mountain in its azure hue.
     Proverb

 

'Tis not the fairest form that holds the mildest, purest soul within; 'Tis not the richest plant that holds the sweetest fragrance in.
     Proverb

 

Fish or cut bait.
     American Proverb

 

Scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.
     American Proverb

 

All sunshine makes the desert.
     Arabian Proverb

 

Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.
     Arabian Proverb

 

Even this shall pass away.
     Arabian Proverb

 

Speak not about what you have read, but about what you have understood.
     Azerbaijani Proverb

 

Don't run too far, you will have to return the same distance.
     Biblical Proverb

 

Better to light a candle than to curse the darkness
     Chinese Proverb

 

Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend's forehead.
     Chinese Proverb

 

Forget injuries, never forget kindnesses.
     Chinese Proverb

 

If you suspect a man, don't employ him, and if you employ him, don't suspect him.
     Chinese Proverb

 

Keep your broken arm inside your sleeve.
     Chinese Proverb

 

May your every wish be granted. [Ancient Chinese curse]
     Chinese Proverb

 

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
     Chinese Proverb

 

When eating bamboo sprouts, remember the man who planted them.
     Chinese Proverb

 

When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.
     Chinese Proverb

 

The big thieves hang the little ones.
     Czech Proverb

 

After pleasant scratching comes unpleasant itching.
     Danish Proverb

 

A man's first care should be to avoid the reproaches of his own heart, his next to escape the censures of the world.
     English Proverb

 

Do not be in a hurry to tie what you cannot untie.
     English Proverb

 

First deserve, and then desire.
     English Proverb

 

He who despises his own life is soon master of another's.
     English Proverb

 

Take a dog for a companion and a stick in your hand.
     English Proverb

 

The absent are always in the wrong.
     English Proverb

 

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
     English Proverb

 

Everyone thinks his own burden heavy.
     French Proverb

 

Set a thief to catch a thief.
     French Proverb

 

There is no flying without wings.
     French Proverb

 

What was hard to endure is sweet to recall.
     French Proverb

 

When in doubt, Gallop! (Proverb of the French Foreign Legion)
     French Proverb

 

You can't make an omelet without breaking eggs.
     French Proverb

 

Many men know how to flatter, few men know how to praise.
     Greek Proverb

 

If you want your eggs hatched, sit on them yourself.
     Haitian Proverb

 

You've got to do your own growing, no matter how tall your grandfather was.
     Irish Proverb

 

Everyone gives himself credit for more brains than he has and less money.
     Italian Proverb

 

Since the house is on fire let us warm ourselves.
     Italian Proverb

 

Speak of the devil and he appears.
     Italian Proverb

 

Tell not all you know, believe not all you hear, do not do all you can.
     Italian Proverb

 

Those who sleep with dogs will rise with fleas.
     Italian Proverb

 

Who depends on another man's table often dines late.
     Italian Proverb

 

Deceive the rich and powerful if you will, but don't insult them.
     Japanese Proverb

 

Don't stay long when the husband is not at home.
     Japanese Proverb

 

The reverse side also has a reverse side.
     Japanese Proverb

 

The tongue is more to be feared than the sword.
     Japanese Proverb

 

To endure what is unendurable is true endurance.
     Japanese Proverb

 

Vision without action is a daydream. Action with without vision is a nightmare.
     Japanese Proverb

 

Don't be too sweet lest you be eaten up; don't be too bitter lest you be spewed out.
     Jewish Proverb

 

He who puts up with insult invites injury.
     Jewish Proverb

 

Make sure to be in with your equals if you're going to fall out with your superiors.
     Jewish Proverb

 

Never trust the man who tells you all his troubles but keeps from you all his joys.
     Jewish Proverb

 

You may laugh at a friend's roof; don't laugh at his sleeping accommodation.
     Kenyan Proverb

 

When elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.
     Kikuyu Proverb

 

Ancient Roman Advice: Illegitimus non Carborundum (don't let the bastards grind you down).
     Latin Proverb

 

Be on your guard against a silent dog and still water.
     Latin Proverb

 

He fishes well who uses a golden hook.
     Latin Proverb

 

If there is no wind, row.
     Latin Proverb

 

It is easier to pull down than to build up.
     Latin Proverb

 

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
     Native American (Minquass) Proverb

 

Blood cannot be washed out with blood.
     Persian Proverb

 

Better a red face than a black heart.
     Portuguese Proverb

 

Visitors always give you pleasure — if not on their arrival, then their departure.
     Portuguese Proverb

 

Ask a lot, but take what is offered.
     Russian Proverb

 

If you are a host to your guest, be a host to his dog also.
     Russian Proverb

 

The hammer shatters glass but forges steel.
     Russian Proverb

 

It is the great north wind that made the Vikings.
     Scandinavian Proverb

 

The opportunity that God sends does not wake up him who sleeps.
     Senegalese Proverb

 

Do not bathe if there is no water.
     Shan Proverb

 

Dawn comes no sooner for the early riser.
     Spanish Proverb

 

If you want to be respected, you must respect yourself.
     Spanish Proverb

 

Since we cannot get what we like, let us like what we can get.
     Spanish Proverb

 

Don't let your sorrow come higher than your knees.
     Swedish Proverb

 

Fear less, hope more,
eat less, chew more,
whine less, breathe more,
talk less, say more,
hate less, love more,
and all good things will be yours.
     Swedish Proverb

 

When one shuts one eye, one does not hear everything.
     Swedish Proverb

 

When you throw dirt, you lose ground.
     Texan Proverb

 

Measure a thousand times and cut once.
     Turkish Proverb

 

Three things it is best to avoid: a strange dog, a flood, and a man who thinks he is wise.
     Welsh Proverb

 

On someone else, you can see a fly. On yourself, you cannot see a hump.
     Yiddish Proverb

 

Complain to one who can help you.
     Yugoslav Proverb

 

I make lists every day. I get up and I make a list of things I'm supposed to do that day. I sometimes put on that list things I've done already for the sheer pleasure of crossing them out of my list.
     Rick Reynolds, Only The Truth Is Funny: 
     My Family And How I Survived It (1992)

 

Those who become too much concerned with little things usually become incapable of big ones.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)

 

The best way to be taken in is to consider yourself sharper than others.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)

 

In order not to be fooled by the clever, it sometimes suffices to be dense.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)

 

The only good copies are those which make us see what is silly in the bad originals.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)

 

The man who thinks he can do without the world is indeed mistaken; but the man who thinks the world cannot do without him is mistaken even worse.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)

 

Lucky men seldom mend their ways; they always feel in the right when luck supports their bad conduct.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)

 

The best way to make a fire with two sticks is to make sure one of them is a match.
     Will Rogers

 

Most men do not mature, they simply grow taller.
     Leo Rosten

 

To knock a thing down, especially if it is cocked at an arrogant angle, is a deep delight of the blood.
     George Santayana

 

To understand oneself is the classic form of consolation; to elude oneself is the romantic.
     George Santayana

 

Give a man a fish and he has food for a day; teach him how to fish and you can get rid of him of the entire weekend.
     Zenna Schaffer

 

The worst of me is known, and I can say that I am better than my reputation.
     J. C. F. von Schiller, Maria Stuart

 

No rose without a thorn. But many a thorn without a rose.
     Arthur Schopenhauer

 

The breakfast of champions is not cereal, it's the opposition.
     Nick Seitz

 

No one becomes a laughingstock who laughs at himself.
     Seneca the Younger

 

Always let your flattery be seen through, for what really flatters a man is that you think him worth flattering.
     George Bernard Shaw

 

If a great man could make us understand him, we should hang him.
     George Bernard Shaw

 

Martyrdom is the only way in which a man can become famous without ability.
     George Bernard Shaw

 

The golden rule is that there are no golden rules.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)
     "Maxims for Revolutionists"

 

It is the care we bestow on apparently trifling, unattractive detail and very troublesome minutiae which determines the result.
     Theobald Smith

 

Charlie, there are a million things in this universe you can have and there are a million you can't have. It's no fun facing that, but that's the way things are.
     Captain Kirk, "Charlie X"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series

 

There is an old Vulcan proverb: Only Nixon could go to China.
     Spock, STAR TREK VI The Undiscovered Country

 

"I was lucky that thing had knees."
"That was not his knee. Not everybody keeps their genitals in the same place, Captain."
     Kirk and Marta, STAR TREK VI The Undiscovered Country

 

Treason, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
     Garak, "Second Skin"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine

 

There comes a time in every man's life when he must stop thinking and start doing.
     Captain Sisko, quoting his father, "Paradise Lost"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine

 

There in an ancient Klingon proverb — "You cannot loosen a man's tongue with root beer."
     Worf, "Rapture"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine

 

"Harry, just relax."
"Why does everyone say "Relax" when they're about to do something terrible."
     Lasca and Kim, "Non Sequitir"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager

 

My people have a saying: Even the eagle must know when to sleep.
     Chakotay, "Resolutions"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager

 

I like familiarity. In me it does not breed contempt. Only more familiarity.
     Gertrude Stein

 

The minute you or anybody else knows what you are you are not it, you are what you or anybody else knows you are and as everything in living is made up of finding out what you are it is extraordinarily difficult really not to know what you are and yet to be that thing.
     Gertrude Stein, Everybody's Autobiography (1937)

 

The Salinas was only a part-time river. The summer sun drove it underground. It was not a fine river at all, but it was the only one we had and so we boasted about it — how dangerous it was in a wet winter and how dry it was in a dry summer. You can boast about anything if it's all you have. Maybe the less you have, the more you are required to boast.
     John Steinbeck, East of Eden (1952)

 

What a fine persecution — to be kept intrigued without ever quite being enlightened.
     Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (play, 1967)

 

We cross our bridges when we come to them and burn them behind us, with nothing to show for our progress except a memory of the smell of smoke, and a presumption that once our eyes watered.
     Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (play, 1967)

 

Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.
     Jonathan Swift

 

No man will take counsel, but every man will take money; therefore, money is better than counsel.
     Jonathan Swift

 

The stoical scheme of supplying our wants by lopping off our desires is like cutting off our feet when we want shoes.
     Jonathan Swift, Thoughts on Various Subjects (1711)

 

It is sometimes expedient to forget who we are.
     Publius Syrus

 

Some remedies are worse than the disease.
     Publius Syrus

 

Do not destroy what you cannot create.
     Leo Szilard, "Ten Commandments," quoted in 
     Freeman Dyson, From Eros to Gaia (1992)

 

I try to fight my impulses, but they keep asking for rematches.
     Bob Thaves, "Frank and Ernest" (comic strip, Apr 29, 2002)

 

If an emergency strikes, a man should be able to leave his home with nothing more than the clothes on his back without feeling that he has left something behind.
     Henry David Thoreau

 

There is no safety in numbers, or in anything else.
     James Thurber, Fables For Our Time & 
     Famous Poems Illustrated (1940)
     "The Fairly Intelligent Fly"

 

Don't count your boobies until they are hatched.
     James Thurber, Fables For Our Time & 
     Famous Poems Illustrated (1940)
     "The Unicorn in the Garden"

 

There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something (or so Thorin said to the young dwarves). You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after. So it proved on this occasion.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)

 

"Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!" he said to himself, and it became a favourite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.
     J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (1937)

 

"Clothes are but little loss, if you escape from drowning."
     Tom Bombadil in J. R. R. Tolkien, 
     The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)

 

"Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere."
     Elrond in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)

 

"I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil."
     Gandalf in J. R. R. Tolkien, The Return of the King (1956)

 

I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.
     Lily Tomlin, The Search for Intelligent Life 
     in the Universe (with Jane Wagner)

 

Never kick a fresh turd on a hot day.
     Harry S Truman

 

Its not the size of the dog in the fight, its the size of the fight in the dog.
     Mark Twain

 

You ought never to knock your little sister down with a club. It is better to use a cat, which is soft. In doing this you must be careful to take the cat by the tail, in such a manner that she cannot scratch you.
     Mark Twain, "Advice for Good Little Boys" (1865)

 

If your mother tells you to do a thing, it is wrong to reply that you won't. It is better and more becoming to intimate that you will do as she bids you, and then afterwards act quietly in the matter according to the dictates of your better judgment.
     Mark Twain, "Advice for Good Little Girls" (1865)

 

"Rise early. It is the early bird that catches the worm." Don't be fooled by this absurd saw; I once knew a man who tried it. He got up at sunrise and a horse bit him.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1866

 

They knew my liberal way — that I like to give and take — when it is for me to give and other people to take.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 

Necessity knows no law.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)

 

There are some natures which never grow large enough to speak out and say a bad act is a bad act, until they have inquired into the politics or the nationality of the man who did it.
     Mark Twain, "Memoranda" (The Galaxy, May 1870)

 

Martyrdom is the luckiest fate that can befall some people.
     Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)

 

Plain question and plain answer make the shortest road out of most perplexities.
     Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

 

But as soon as one is at rest, in this world, off he goes on something else to worry about.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)

 

A thing long expected takes the shape of the unexpected when at last it comes.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1894

 

Adam and Eve had many advantages, but the principal one was that they escaped teething.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

 

Remark of Dr. Baldwin's, concerning upstarts: We don't care to eat toadstools that think they are truffles.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

 

It is easy to find fault, if one has that disposition. There was once a man who, not being able to find any other fault with coal, complained that there were too many prehistoric toads in it.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

 

Gratitude and treachery are merely the two extremities of the same procession. You have seen all of it that is worth staying for when the band and the gaudy officials have gone by.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

 

In fact, the more things are forbidden, the more popular they become.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1895

 

What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1896

 

... none are so ready to find fault with others as those who do things worthy of blame themselves.
     Mark Twain, The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)

 

Well, well, a good and wholesome thing is a little harmless fun in this world; it tones a body up and keep him human and prevents him from souring.
     Mark Twain, The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc (1896)

 

It is easy to make plans in this world; even a cat can do it; and when one is out in those remote oceans it is noticeable that a cat's plans and a man's are worth about the same. There is much the same shrinkage in both, in the matter of values.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

 

We take a natural interest in novelties, but it is against nature to take an interest in familiar things.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)

 

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

It is your human environment that makes climate.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

The English are mentioned in the Bible: Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

Let us not be too particular. It is better to have old second-hand diamonds than none at all.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

By trying we can easily learn to endure adversity. Another man's, I mean.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

Few of us can stand prosperity. Another man's, I mean.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

There are no people who are quite so vulgar as the over-refined ones.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain-pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

There isn't a Parallel of Latitude but thinks it would have been the Equator if it had had its rights.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     " Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"

 

A round man cannot be expected to fit in a square hole right away. He must have time to modify his shape.
     Mark Twain, More Tramps Abroad (1897)
     [British edition of Following the Equator]
     Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar

 

There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898

 

There is but one first thing to do when a man is wounded and suffering: relieve him. If we have a curiosity to know his nationality, that is a matter of no consequence, and can wait.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898

 

On the whole it is better to deserve honors and not have them than to have them and not deserve them.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1902

 

Only he who has seen better days and lives to see better days again knows their full value.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1902

 

One Fly Makes a Summer.
     Mark Twain, "The Belated Russian Passport" (1902)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"

 

Martyrdom covers a multitude of sins.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1903

 

... the size of a misfortune is not determinable by an outsider's measurement of it, but only by the measurements applied to it by the person specifically affected by it. The king's lost crown is a vast matter to the king, but of no consequence to the child. The lost toy is a great matter to the child, but in the king's eyes it is not a thing to break the heart about.
     Mark Twain, Chapters from My Autobiography 
     (North American Review, 1906-1907)

 

Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is the lightning that does the work.
     Mark Twain, letter to an unknown 
     correspondent (August 28, 1908)

 

There was never a Claimant that couldn't get a hearing, nor one that couldn't accumulate a rapturous following, no matter how flimsy and apparently unauthentic his claim might be.
     Mark Twain, "Is Shakespeare Dead?" (1909)

 

... conspicuousness is the only thing necessary in a person to command our interest and, in a larger or smaller sense, our worship. We recognize that there are no trivial occurrences in life if we get the right focus on them.
     Mark Twain, Albert Bigelow Paine (ed.), 
     Mark Twain's Autobiography (1924)

 

All the talk used to be about doing people good, now it is about doing people.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Balloon: Thing to take meteoric observations and commit suicide with.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Necessity is the mother of "taking chances."
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Slang in a woman's mouth is not obscene, it only sounds so.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

There are many scapegoats for our blunders, but the most popular one is Providence.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

You can straighten a worm, but the crook is in him and only waiting.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)

 

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.
     Mark Twain, G. MacLaren, Morally We Roll Along (1938)

 

In this world the real penalty, the sharp one, the lasting one, never falls otherwise than on the wrong person.
     Mark Twain, Charles Neider (ed.), 
     The Autobiography of Mark Twain (1959)

 

Repartee is something we think of twenty-four hours too late.
     Mark Twain, attributed; in Alex Ayres (ed.), 
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (1987)

 

Don't go around saying the world owes you a living; the world owes you nothing, it was here first.
     Mark Twain, quoted in Jon Winokur (ed.), Friendly Advice (1990)

 

It's a control freak thing. I wouldn't let you understand.
     S. H. Underwood

 

[Invited a second time to an orgy] Ah no, my good friends, once a philosopher, twice a pervert.
     Voltaire

 

The best is the enemy of the good.
     Voltaire, Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764)

 

This is the only story of mine whose moral I know. I don't think it's a marvelous moral; I simply happen to know what it is: We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
     Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night (1961)

 

What goes up must come down. But don't expect it to come down where you can find it. Murphy's Law applied to Newton's.
     Jane Wagner

 

I am impressed by the reluctance of one's worldly goods to go out again into the world.
     E. B. White, "Good-Bye to Forty-Eighth Street" (1957)
     Essays of E. B. White (1977)

 

It is a short step from a careless phrase to a flash of insight.
     Alfred North, Whitehead Process and Reality (Corrected edn)

 

I sound my barbaric yawp from the rooftops of the world.
     Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1892)

 

It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.
     Oscar Wilde

 

Seriousness is the only refuge of the shallow.
     Oscar Wilde

 

Nothing that actually occurs is of the smallest importance.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies 
     for the Use of the Young" (1894)

 

Hindsight is always 20/20.
     Billy Wilder

 

Patience comes to those who wait.
     Tom Wilson

 

It's better to be wanted for murder than not to be wanted at all.
     Marty Winch

 

Nothing risqué, nothing gained.
     Alexander Woollcott

 

I bought some batteries, but they weren't included. So I had to buy them again.
     Steven Wright

 

Cattle who persevere in looking for an easy way out still wind up in the abattoir, but they may enjoy the trip a little more.
     Roger Zelazny, "This Moment of the Storm" (1966)

 

 

Pseudoscience and the Paranormal

 

"It's only astrology. It's harmless. It's not the end of the world."
     Gail Andrews, who couldn't be more wrong, in 
     Douglas Adams, Mostly Harmless (1992)

 

Horoscopes: The book says people born in January are gentle. February people are honest. March people are sincere. April people are trustworthy and so on and so on. Now, what I don't understand is: Where the hell do all the rotten people come from?
     Lou Alexander

 

It is a great deal easier to believe in the existence of parapsychological phenomena, if one is ignorant of, or indifferent to, the nature of scientific evidence.
     Isaac Asimov

 

The wish to believe, even against evidence, fuels all the pseudosciences from astrology to creationism.
     Isaac Asimov

 

To rebel against a powerful political, economic, religious, or social establishment is very dangerous and very few people do it, except, perhaps, as part of a mob. To rebel against the "scientific" establishment, however, is the easiest thing in the world, and anyone can do it and feel enormously brave, without risking as much as a hangnail. Thus, the vast majority, who believe in astrology and think that the planets have nothing better to do than form a code that will tell them whether tomorrow is a good day to close a business deal or not, become all the more excited and enthusiastic about the bilge when a group of astronomers denounces it.
     Isaac Asimov

 

Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to such, a skirt to hold. What have we to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!
     Isaac Asimov, "The Perennial Fringe" (Skeptical Inquirer, Spring 1986)

 

It's not that I don't believe the government would try to hide dead aliens; it's that I don't think the government would succeed, since every time the government tried to do anything secretly, as in the Iran-contra arms deal, it winds up displaying all the finesse and stealth of an exploding cigar at a state funeral. If there really were dead aliens, I figure, there also would be daily leaks about it from High-Level Officials, and huge arguments among influential congresspersons over whose district the multimillion-dollar Federal Dead Alien Storage Facility would be located in.
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up (1994)
     "A Space Odyssey"

 

That is, incidentally, what is wrong with so many pseudoscientific ventures: people try to build on superseded scientific knowledge, not understanding that or how it is superseded, and that their little knowledge has been for them a very dangerous thing.
     Henry H. Bauer, Scientific Literacy and the 
     Myth of the Scientific Method (1992)

 

Quantum mechanics is not Zen Buddhism. Photons do not display manifestations of consciousness. Relativity theory has nothing to do with ethical relativism. Creationism is not a rival scientific theory of the origin of species. Evolution is not a speculation, and so on. If people read popular science with misguided expectations, in the long run this will manifest itself in a loss of popular support for, and interest in, real scientific research. For this reason, among others, I believe that a scientist such as myself who writes for the general public has both an opportunity and a responsibility to call attention to nonsense when he comes across it.
     Jeremy Bernstein, Science Observed

 

Clairvoyant, n. A person, commonly a woman, who has the power of seeing that which is invisible to her patron — namely, that he is a blockhead.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

Phrenology, n. The science of picking the pocket through the scalp. It consists in locating and exploiting the organ that one is a dupe with.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)

 

I believe the stars can affect human lives, particularly by providing employment for thousands of astrologers.
     Ashleigh Brilliant

 

The plural of anecdote is not data.
     Roger Brinner

 

Astrology, n. 1) A convenient means of making a living for those otherwise unemployable, safer than loan sharking or prostitution, though not as prestigious; 2) According to its practitioners, a branch of science to which it is grossly unfair to apply the normal standards of science, especially those related to testing.
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)

 

New Age, adj. (pronounced as one word; rhymes with "sewage") 1) Having to do with money; 2) Pretentious and self-satisfied; 3) Marked by lack of concern for others, especially the less fortunate; 4) Lobotomized; 5) In regard to music, insipid, aimless, and unchallenging — that is, perfectly suited to the spiritual needs of prosperous yuppies. (with thanks to Penn & Teller for publicly supplying the correct pronunciation of this term)
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)

 

Psychic, n. An individual having an uncanny, seemingly supernatural, talent for extracting money from morons.
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic's Dictionary (1992)

 

Magic, it must be remembered, is an art which demands collaboration between the artist and his public.
     E. M. Butler, The Myth of the Magus (1948)

 

The chance of a genuine spaceship evading discovery in this age of multi-billion dollar radar networks, is about the same as that of a dinosaur concealing itself in Manhattan. When our stellar neighbours really do start to arrive, we'll all know about it within five minutes. The idea that any government could — or would — keep such a world-shattering event secret for year after year is utterly ludicrous.
     Arthur C. Clarke, Voices from the Sky: A 
     Preview of the Coming Space Age (1974)
     "The Lunatic Fringe"

 

I don't believe in astrology. The only stars I can blame for my failures are those that walk about the stage.
     Noel Coward

 

Well-written pseudoscience, with its exciting generalizations and lack of mathematics, can always find a bigger audience than can carefully crafted, but necessarily tedious, rebuttals.
     Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science (1993)

 

Probably nothing disturbs nonscientists about science more than its seemingly dogmatic rejection of claims of the paranormal. But science isn't rejecting the claims themselves so much as the evidence used to support them. Scientific evidence, by our definition, must be strong enough to win a consensus. That is an exacting standard. The scientist, like a stage magician, can't cover his hands at a critical part of the demonstration. The audience would boo and throw tomatoes.
     Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science (1993)

 

This inability ["to disprove preposterous claims by means of experimentation"] is inherent in the logic of the empirical method. We can, however, point out the lack of evidence of such claims and demonstrate their logical inconsistency with everything we do know about the world. And about logically inconsistent things for which there is no evidence, we need not be open-minded. After all, there are only so many impossible things one can believe before breakfast.
     Alan Cromer, Uncommon Sense: The Heretical Nature of Science (1993)

 

We should take astrology seriously. No, I don't mean we should believe in it. I am talking about fighting it seriously instead of humouring it as a piece of harmless fun.
     Richard Dawkins, "The Real Romance in the Stars" 
     (Independent, 31 Dec 1995)

 

A far more rapid astronomical shift is the precession of the equinoxes. My birthday (26 March) is listed in the papers as Aries but this is the sun sign which somebody with my birthday would have had when Ptolemy codified all that stuff. Because of the precessional shift of approximately one whole zodiacal sign over the AD era, my sun sign is in fact (if you can call it a fact) Pisces. If astrologers were doing something that had any connection with reality, this presumably ought to make a difference. Since they aren't, it doesn't. Scorpio could go retrograde up Uranus and it wouldn't make any difference.
     Richard Dawkins, "The Real Romance in the Stars" 
     (Independent, 31 Dec 1995)

 

Your birth star will not deign to tell anything about your personality, your future or your sexual compatibilities. The stars have larger agendas, in which the preoccupation's of human pettiness do not figure.
     Richard Dawkins, "The Real Romance in the Stars" 
     (Independent, 31 Dec 1995)

 

Scientific truth is too beautiful to be sacrificed for the sake of light entertainment or money. Astrology is an aesthetic affront. It cheapens astronomy, like using Beethoven for commercial jingles.
     Richard Dawkins, "The Real Romance in the Stars" 
     (Independent, 31 Dec 1995)

 

Why, actually, are professional astrologers not jailed for fraud?
     Richard Dawkins, "The Real Romance in the Stars" 
     (Independent, 31 Dec 1995)

 

Or, it may be said, aren't scientists being arrogant in claiming to have explained everything? Isn't it healthy to have alternative hypotheses laid before us? Yes, of course it is. Scientists certainly do not have an adequate explanation for everything. But "paranormal" claims must be treated with the same rigorous scepticism as scientific hypotheses are.
     Richard Dawkins, "Human gullibility beyond belief" 
     (The Sunday Times, August 25 1996)

 

Paranormal phenomena have a habit of going away whenever they are tested under rigorous conditions.
     Richard Dawkins, "Human gullibility beyond belief" 
     (The Sunday Times, August 25 1996)

 

It's been suggested that if the supernaturalists really had the powers they claim, they'd win the lottery every week. I prefer to point out that they could also win a Nobel Prize for discovering fundamental physical forces hitherto unknown to science. Either way, why are they wasting their talents doing party turns on television?
     Richard Dawkins "Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder" 
     (Richard Dimbleby Lecture, BBC1, November 12th, 1996)

 

Yes, there been occasions when authoritative sceptics have come away with egg on their pontificating faces. But a far greater number of magical claims have been made and never vindicated. A few things that would surprise us today will come true in the future. But lots and lots of things will not come true in the future. History suggests that the very surprising things that do come true are in a minority. The trick is to sort them out from the rubbish — from claims that will forever remain in the realm of fiction and magic.
     Richard Dawkins, "Science And Sensibility" (speech, 24th March 1998)

 

"This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply."
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
     The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes (1927)
     "The Adventure of the Sussex Vampire"

 

"I started studying physics as a way of answering my questions in philosophy, he [Andrei Linde] recalled in a 1993 interview. "When I was in high school, I developed a nice theory of how extrasensory perception might work. But then I learned that it violated the special theory of relativity. I realized that unless I learn physics I may come up with all sorts of ideas that will sound nice, but always I will be talking nonsense."
     Timothy Ferris, The Whole Shebang: 
     A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report (1997)

 

I believe that we should demand that people try in their own minds to obtain for themselves a more consistent picture of their own world; that they not permit themselves the luxury of having their brain cut in four pieces or two pieces even, and on one side they believe this and on the other side they believe that, but never try to compare the two points of view. Because we have learned that, by trying to put the points of view that we have in our head together and comparing one to the other, we make some progress in understanding and in appreciating where we are and what we are.
     Richard Feynman, "What Is and What Should Be the Role of Scientific 
     Culture in Modern Society" (Galileo Symposium, Italy, 1964)
     reprinted in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short 
     Works of Richard P. Feynman
(Jeffrey Robbins, ed., 1999)

 

Because of the success of science, there is, I think, a kind of pseudoscience. Social science is an example of a science which is not a science; they don't do [things] scientifically, they follow the forms — or you gather data, you do so-and-so and so forth but they don't get any laws, they haven't found out anything. ... You see, I have the advantage of having found out how hard it is to get to really know something, how careful you have to be about checking the experiments, how easy it is to make mistakes and fool yourself. I know what it means to know something, and therefore I see how they get their information and I can't believe that they know it, they haven't done the work necessary, haven't done the checks necessary, haven't done the care necessary. I have a great suspicion that they don't know, that this stuff is [wrong] and they're intimidating people. I think so. I don't know the world very well but that's what I think.
     Richard Feynman, "The Pleasure of Finding Things Out" 
     (interview, BBC, Horizon, 1981; shown in US on Nova)
     reprinted in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short 
     Works of Richard P. Feynman
(Jeffrey Robbins, ed., 1999)

 

Although such research [into the paranormal] has yet to produce anything in the way of a repeatable controlled experiment, its practitioners argue that its revolutionary potentialities justify its continuation. My own feeling is that after a century of total failure it has become a bloody bore.
     Dennis Flanagan, Flanagan's View: A Spectator's Guide 
     to Science on the Eve of the 21st Century (1988)

 

In writing and in face-to-face debates with pseudoscientists, be prepared to confront them with examples of their errors. This must be done with precision and by explicit citation. In a debate have at hand photocopies of relevant documents. There is nothing like this to block a pseucoscientist's evasions (as I found in my encounter with Velikovsky). A colleague who has debated with prominent creation scientists tells of his success with similar tactics. In olden days holding up a cross was sufficient to stop the devil; today photocopies can be effective exorcisers.
     Michael W. Friedlander, At The Fringes Of Science (1995)

 

Psychics, like temperamental Rock stars, often do not perform in the presence of bad vibes.
     Thomas Gilovich, How We Know What Isn't So: The 
     Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life (1991)

 

"I have argued flying saucers with lots of people," Feynman once said. "I was interested in this: they keep arguing that it is possible. And that's true. It is possible. They do not appreciate that the problem is not to demonstrate whether it's possible or not but whether it's going on or not."
     James Gleick, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman (1992)

 

A belief in the powers of certain delusive arts, particularly astrology, has greatly retarded the progress of knowledge, by engrossing the attention of many of the finest geniuses the world has ever produced.
     Olinthus G. Gregory

 

The supernatural is the natural not yet understood.
     Elbert Hubbard

 

To me, [it's] extremely interesting that men, perfectly honest, enthusiastic over their work, can so completely fool themselves.
     Irving Langmuir, "Pathological Science" (lecture, December 18, 1953)

 

[Definition of "pathological science":] These are cases where there is no dishonesty involved but where people are tricked into false results by a lack of understanding about what human beings can do to themselves in the way of being led astray by subjective effects, wishful thinking or threshold interactions.
     Irving Langmuir, "Pathological Science" (lecture, December 18, 1953)

 

Now here are the characteristic rules [for pathological science]: The maximum effect that is observed is produced by a causative agent of barely detectable intensity. ... In other words, the effect is independent of the intensity of the cause. ... Another characteristic thing about them all is that these observations are near the threshold of visibility of the eyes. ... There are claims of great accuracy. ... Fantastic theories contrary to experience. ... Criticisms are met by ad hoc excuses thought up on the spur of the moment. They always had an answer — always. The ratio of the supporters to the critics rises up somewhere near 50% and then falls gradually to oblivion. The critics couldn't reproduce the effects. Only the supporters could do that. In the end, nothing was salvaged. Why should there be? There isn't anything there. There never was. That's characteristic of the effect.
     Irving Langmuir, "Pathological Science" (lecture, December 18, 1953)

 

There has been a spate of books over the past several years — The Tao of Physics is another example [with The Dancing Wu Li Masters] — that attempt to explain modern physics in terms of Eastern religion and mysticism. The authors are apt to conclude rapturously that we are all part of the cosmos and the cosmos is part of us. We are all one! (Though, inexplicably, American Express bills us separately.)
     Leon Lederman, The God Particle: If the Universe is the 
     Answer, What is the Question?
(with Dick Teresi, 1993)

 

The only person who is a worse liar than a faith healer is his patient.
     Abraham Lincoln

 

Just as compulsory primary education created a market catered for by cheap dailies and weeklies, so the spread of secondary and latterly of tertiary education has created a large population of people, often with well-developed literary and scholarly tastes, who have been educated far beyond their capacity to undertake analytical thought.
     Peter Medawar, "The Phenomenon of Man" (Mind, 1961, 70)
     reprinted in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice 
     and Other Classic Essays on Science
(1996)

 

It [The Phenomenon of Man] is written in all but totally unintelligible style, and this is construed as prima-facie evidence of profundity.
     Peter Medawar, "The Phenomenon of Man" (Mind, 1961, 70)
     reprinted in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice 
     and Other Classic Essays on Science
(1996)

 

The Predicament of Man is all the rage now that people have sufficient leisure and are sufficiently well fed to contemplate it, and many a tidy literary reputation has been built upon exploiting it; anybody nowadays who dared to suggest that the plight of man might not be wholly desperate would get a sharp rap over the knuckles in any literary weekly. Teilhard not only diagnoses in everyone the fashionable disease but propounds a remedy for it — yet a remedy so obscure and so remote from the possibility of application that it is not likely to deprive any practitioner of a living.
     Peter Medawar, "The Phenomenon of Man" (Mind, 1961, 70)
     reprinted in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice 
     and Other Classic Essays on Science
(1996)

 

If it were an innocent, passive gullibility it would be excusable; but all too clearly, alas, it is an active willingness to be deceived.
     Peter Medawar, "The Phenomenon of Man" (Mind, 1961, 70)
     reprinted in The Strange Case of the Spotted Mice 
     and Other Classic Essays on Science
(1996)

 

In fact, one thing I have noticed . . . is that all of these conspiracy theories depend on the perpetrators being endlessly clever. I think you'll find the facts also work if you assume everyone is endlessly stupid.
     Brian E. Moore

 

Babylonian astrology, Greek mythology, Aristotle's crystalline spheres — the stars had occasioned more pure bullshit than the rest of reality combined.
     James Morrow, Only Begotten Daughter (1990)

 

Telepathy is just minding someone else's business.
     Hester Mundis, 101 Ways To Avoid Reincarnation, 
     or, Getting It Right the First Time (1989)

 

Psi and/or magical powers, if real, are nearly useless. Over the lifetime of the human species we would otherwise have done something with them.
     Larry Niven, N-Space (1990)
     "Niven's Laws"

 

Two hundred years ago, educated people imagined that the greatest contribution of science would be to free the world from superstition and humbug. It has not happened. Ancient beliefs in demons and magic still sweep across the modern landscape, but they are now dressed in the language and symbols of science ...
     Robert L. Park, Voodoo Science: The Road 
     from Foolishness to Fraud (2000)

 

It was amazing, this mystic business. You tell them a lie, and then when you don't need it anymore you tell them another lie and tell them they're progressing along the road to wisdom. Then instead of laughing they follow you even more, hoping that at the heart of all the lies they'll find the truth. And bit by bit they accept the unacceptable. Amazing.
     Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards! (1989)

 

Discworld constellations changed frequently as the world moved through the void, which meant that astrology was cutting-edge research rather than, as elsewhere, a clever way of avoiding a proper job.  It was amazing how human traits and affairs could so reliably and continuously be guided by a succession of big balls of plasma billions of miles away, most of whom have never even heard of humanity.
    Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent (1998)

 

It is a mark of pseudo-science to think that being on the right track scientifically means never having to change your mind about anything.
     Daisie and Michael Radner

 

Pseudoscientists delight in irrefutable hypothesis. The reason for this is obvious. If no possible state of affairs is allowed to count against what they say, they need have no fear of the facts ever proving them wrong. But their guarantee against error is purchased at the expense of not saying anything at all about the world. If one cannot be wrong about something, then it makes no sense to speak of being right about it, either.
     Daisie Radner and Michael Radner, Science and Unreason (1982)

 

The New Age? It's just the old age stuck in a microwave oven for fifteen seconds.
     James Randi, Observer (London, 14 April 1991)

 

I called the Psychic Friends Network. They said, "Why are you calling?" I said, "You tell me."
     Broderick Rice

 

The best defense against the unreal is reality. The curve of knowledge is surging upward at a dizzying pace. Physicists are learning more about the nature of matter and energy, biologists more about the nature of life. The more we know about reality, the less room there is for pseudoscience. Unfortunately, real knowledge is resisted by a public that reads more about pseudoscience and the occult than about real science. The thrill of the esoteric is more seductive than the hard labor of knowledge.
     Milton A. Rothman, A Physicist's Guide to Skepticism (1988)

 

More cranks take up unfashionable errors than unfashionable truths.
     Bertrand Russell

 

[On the "ancient-astronaut" writings of von Daniken] Our ancestors were no dummies. They may have lacked high technology, but they were as smart as we, and they sometimes combined dedication, intelligence and hard work to produce results that impress even us.
     Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979)
     “Night Walkers and Mystery Mongers: Sense 
     and Nonsense at the Edge of Science”

 

Where skeptical observation and discussion are suppressed, the truth is hidden. The proponents of such borderline beliefs, when criticized, often point to geniuses of the past who were ridiculed. 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 Clown.
     Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979)
     “Night Walkers and Mystery Mongers: Sense 
     and Nonsense at the Edge of Science”

 

The best antidote for pseudoscience, I firmly believe, is science.
     Carl Sagan, Broca's Brain: Reflections on the Romance of Science (1979)
     “Night Walkers and Mystery Mongers: Sense 
     and Nonsense at the Edge of Science”

 

I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true.
     Carl Sagan, "The Burden Of Skepticism" (speech, 1987; reprinted in Kendrick Frazier, 
     ed., The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal, 1991)

 

Baloney, bamboozles, careless thinking, flimflam, and wishes disguised as facts are not restricted to parlor magic and ambiguous advice on matters of the heart. Unfortunately, they ripple through mainstream political, social, religious, and economic issues in every nation.
     Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: 
     Science As A Candle in the Dark
(1995)

 

Science arouses a soaring sense of wonder. But so does pseudoscience. Sparse and poor popularizations of science abandon ecological niches that pseudoscience promptly fills. If it were widely understood that claims to knowledge require adequate evidence before they can be accepted, there would be no room for pseudoscience. But a kind of Gresham's Law prevails in popular culture by which bad science drives out good.
     Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: 
     Science As A Candle in the Dark
(1995)

 

We've arranged a global civilization in which most crucial elements — transportation, communications, and all other industries; agriculture, medicine, education, entertainment, protecting the environment; and even the key democratic institution of voting — profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
     Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: 
     Science As A Candle in the Dark
(1995)

 

Discoveries like this are what scientists live for. Their absence must tell us something.
     Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: 
     Science As A Candle in the Dark
(1995)

 

Paradoxically, many New Agers, having demonstrated to their satisfaction that objective truth is the unattainable bugaboo of thick-headed rationalists, often become extremely dogmatic about the minutiae of their own favorite belief systems. After all, if what is "true for you" isn't necessarily "true for me," should I really worry about the exact dates and locations of the upcoming geological upheavals predicted by Ramtha or the coming of the "space brothers" in 2012 predicted by Jose Arguellas?
     Ted Schultz, "A Personal Odyssey Through the New Age," 
     Not Necessarily the New Age (1988)

 

I spend money with reckless abandon. Last month I blew five thousand dollars at a reincarnation seminar. I got to thinking, what the hell, you only live once.
     Ronnie Shakes

 

This is the excellent foppery of the world, that when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeit of our own behaviour — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars: as if we were villains by necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion; knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance; drunkards, liars, and adudlterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence; and all that we are evil in, by a divine thrusting on.
     William Shakespeare, King Lear

 

The mistaken belief that a handful of unexplained anomalies can undermine a well-established theory lies at the heart of all conspiratorial thinking (as well as creationism, Holocaust denial, and the various crank theories of physics).
     Michael Shermer

 

For those of us in the business of debunking bunk and explaining the unexplained, that is what I call the Hard Question: Why do smart people believe weird things? My Easy Answer will seem somewhat paradoxical at first: Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.
     That is to say, most of us most of the time come to our beliefs for a variety of reasons having little to do with empirical evidence and logical reasoning (that, presumably, smart people are better at employing). Rather, such variables as genetic predispositions, parental predilections, sibling influences, peer pressures, educational experiences, and life impressions all shape the personality preferences and emotional inclinations that, in conjunction with numerous social and cultural influences, lead us to make certain belief choices. Rarely do any of us sit down before a table of facts, weigh them pro and con, and choose the most logical and rational belief, regardless of what we previously believed. Instead, the facts of the world come to us through the colored filters of the theories, hypotheses, hunches, biases, and prejudices we have accumulated through our lifetime. We then sort through the body of data and select those most confirming what already believe, and ignore or rationalize away those that are disconfirming.
     All of us do this, of course, but smart people are better at it through both talent and training. Some beliefs really are more logical, rational, and supported by the evidence than others, of course, but it is not my purpose here to judge the validity of beliefs; rather, I am interested in the question of how we came to them in the first place, and how we hold on to them in the face of either no evidence or contradictory evidence.
     Michael Shermer, Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience,
     Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time
(1997, 2002)

 

We can't claim to fully understand what science is until we know what it is not. The science / pseudoscience interface can help us understand both the strengths and the self-imposed constraints of science. Science is a self-correcting processes, continually striving to weed out errors of thought and errors of methodology, thereby narrowing the region where truth may reside. While science claims no absolute truths, it has accumulated a larger body of reliable and testable understanding of nature than any other method of inquiry.
     Donald Simanek

 

I read my horoscope. The first line said, "Ignore bad advice." Fine. I stopped reading my horoscope.
     Dan Spencer

 

Holistic philosophy is the perfect self-delusion for the spoiled brat of any age, all decked out in the latest fashion, who loves to talk about solving the problems of the world but has no intention of sweating a drop in achieving this noble goal.
     Victor J. Stenger, "New Age Physics: Has Science Found 
     the Path to the Ultimate?" (Free Inquiry, Summer 1996)

 

Reductionist classical physics did not make people egoists. People were egoists long before reductionist classical physics. In fact, classical physics has nothing to say about humans except that they are material objects like rocks and trees, made of nothing more than the same atoms — just more cleverly arranged by the impersonal forces of self-organization and evolution. This is hardly a philosophical basis for narcissism.
     Victor J. Stenger, "New Age Physics: Has Science Found 
     the Path to the Ultimate?" (Free Inquiry, Summer 1996)

 

Mystical physics is a grossly misapplied version of ancient Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, which were based on the notion that only by the complete rejection of self can one find inner peace in this world of suffering and hopelessness. Capra and his colleagues say they are putting a modern face on ancient Eastern philosophy. I say they are covering a noble edifice with graffiti.
     Victor J. Stenger, "New Age Physics: Has Science Found 
     the Path to the Ultimate?" (Free Inquiry, Summer 1996)

 

The best explanation for wacko behavior is that a person really is a wacko.
     Victor J. Stenger, Physics and Psychics: The 
     Search for a World Beyond the Senses
(1990)

 

The TM [Transcendental Meditation] state, according to the Maharishi, opens a channel to "cosmic consciousness." Of course, not just any mantra will suffice; rather, one must be specially assigned by a certified TM instructor. However, the fee for sufficient TM training sessions to achieve "adequate meditation skills" and a personal mantra can make a significant dent in the pocketbook. This seems to be the strongest physical effect of TM.
     Victor J. Stenger, Physics and Psychics: The 
     Search for a World Beyond the Senses
(1990)

 

The idea that we make our own reality is a major component of New Age thinking. Like everything else in the New Age, it is nothing new.
     Victor J. Stenger, Physics and Psychics: The 
     Search for a World Beyond the Senses
(1990)

 

One sure mark of pseudoscience is that investigators whose work is criticized make personal attacks on their critics in place of answering the specific criticisms. I guess pseudoscientists think if they can convince the public that skeptics are terrible people, then their delusions will somehow become true.
     Victor J. Stenger, Physics and Psychics: The 
     Search for a World Beyond the Senses
(1990)

 

Any successful laboratory demonstration of a parapsychological event is indistinguishable from a carefully rigged hoax.
     Kelvin Throop III

 

And when such claims are extraordinary, that is, revolutionary in their implications for established scientific generalizations already accumulated and verified, we must demand extraordinary proof. [Often abbreviated to "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof".]
     Marcello Truzzi, editorial in The Zetetic (Fall/Winter 1976, p 3-6)

 

Levitation and telepathy may exist; the Queen may be a Russian spy; but both would require remarkable evidence to persuade us to give up our beliefs to the contrary. One cannot but have sympathy with Michael Faraday, who, when asked once too often to witness some new paranormal phenomenon, replied, 'I will leave the spirits to find out for themselves how they can move my attention. I am tired of them.'
     Lewis Wolpert, The Unnatural Nature of Science (1993)