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Exploring Strange New Worlds


(Mostly Harmless)


Original entry for "Earth" in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Harmless.
Revised entry after Ford Prefect's fifteen years of painstaking research: Mostly harmless.
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (1979)


We live on a blue planet, and seem more or less determined to disguise the fact. Our maps — North America and Asia stretching out to one another like Michelangelo's divine fingers in an attempt to bridge eastern and western landmasses — give no clue that, seen from some angles, the globe is nearly all sea. Standard cartographic projections appear designed to maximize land area at the expense of the waters, to hide away the awesome glaze of the Pacific Ocean. Over two-thirds of the planet's surface is covered by liquid water, and over one-twentieth by ice. We call our home Earth — but Water would be more apt.
     This is only human nature. Living in London, New York, Tokyo, or even Peoria, one forgets that other places are not the same. Wherever we are, we all too easily assume that our environment is representative. If extraterrestrial beings were to drop by on Earth to collect a random sample of its wildlife, we would tend to imagine them hovering over the plains of Texas, plucking up cowboys and housewives. But it is more likely that they would collect a tank of algae from the Pacific.
     Philip Ball, Life's Matrix: A Biography of Water (2000)


Earth: the lunatic asylum of the solar system.
     Samuel Parks Cadman


Earth, n. A piece of lint in the navel of the universe.
     Victor L. Cahn


There's a planet named Pluto, but we don't have one named Goofy. Goofy would be a good name for this planet. It certainly qualifies.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


Some of us still get all weepy when we think about the Gaia Hypothesis, the idea that the earth is a big furry goddess-creature who resembles everybody's mom in that she shows what's best for us. But if you look at the historical record — Krakatoa, Mt. Vesuvius, Hurricane Charley, poison ivy, and so forth down the ages — you have to ask yourself: Whose side is she on, anyway? And even if you love your mom, does that mean you have to live with her forever?
     Barbara Ehrenreich, The Worst Years of Our Lives (1990)
     "The Great Syringe Tide" (1988)


[The Voyager spacecraft was instructed to photograph of all of the planets as seen from the edge of the solar system. The Earth appears as a single pixel — a tiny, pale blue dot.] Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. ... It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.
     Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994)


When you examine the Earth at about 100-meter resolution ... you would conclude only that the dominant life-forms have a simultaneous passion for territoriality and Euclidean geometry.
     Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space (1994)


Current [1968] Earth crises would fill a tape bank, Captain.
     Spock, "Assignment: Earth"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


Judging from the pollution content in the atmosphere, I believe we have arrived at the latter half of the twentieth century.
     Spock, STAR TREK IV The Voyage Home


I want you all to be very careful. This is terra incognita. Many of their customs will doubtless take us by surprise. ... This is an extremely primitive and paranoid culture.
     Admiral Kirk, STAR TREK IV The Voyage Home


It's a miracle these people ever got out of the 20th century.
     Dr. McCoy, STAR TREK IV The Voyage Home


A thousand years ago [Earth] had character — Crusades, Spanish Inquisition, Watergate. Now it's just mind-numbingly dull.
     Q, "Q-Less"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


I guess it's true what they say: "There's no place like home, no matter what color the water is."
     Dr. Bashir, "Part Tense, Part I"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine



Dollars and Non-Cents)


My criticism of communism is that under communism it isn't allowed.
     Alex Ayres, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (editor, 1987)


How ironic that the fatal flaw of communism would turn out to be that there is no money in it.
     A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture: 
     An American Commentary


The Bolsheviks had a good theory. They figures if you took the financial incentive out of exploiting the masses, no one would bother. How were they to know people would exploit each other just for the fun of it?
     A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture: 
     An American Commentary


The capitalist system is the best, 'cause we can go somewhere else. Communism is like one big phone company.
     Lenny Bruce


That's the great thing about capitalism. If there is loose change lying around, somebody will figure out a way to get it.
     Jimmy Buffett, A Pirate Looks At Fifty (1998)


Laissez-faire, n. An economic doctrine which states that no act can be evil if it earns a profit.
     Victor L. Cahn


An economist is a surgeon with an excellent scalpel and a rough-edged lancet, who operates beautifully on the dead and tortures the living.
     Nicolas Chamfort


The problem with socialism is socialism. The problem with capitalism is capitalists.
     Sir Winston Churchill


In all recorded history there has not been one economist who has had to worry about where the next meal would come from.
     Peter F. Drucker


In considering economic behavior, humor is especially important for, needless to say, much of that behavior is infinitely ridiculous.
     John Kenneth Galbraith


Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
     Sydney J. Harris


An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.
     Alfred A. Knopf


It is my understanding that Communism requires of its adherents that they arise early and participate in a strenuous round of calisthenics. To someone who wishes that cigarettes came already lit the thought of such exertion at any hour when decent people are just nodding off is thoroughly abhorrent.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Better Read Than Dead: A Revised Opinion"


My political position is based largely on my aversion to large groups, and if there's one thing I know about Communism it's that large groups are definitely in the picture. I do not work well with others and I do not wish to learn to do so. I do not even dance well with others if there are too many of them, and I have no doubt but that Communist discothèques are hideously overcrowded.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "Better Read Than Dead: A Revised Opinion"


Communism is the opiate of the intellectuals.
     Clare Booth Luce


Today, however, in their anxiety to propitiate GNP, the tribal god of the Western world, whose name (like that of JHVH) the very pious may refer to by consonants only without an irreverent vocalization of the intervening vowels, people are tending again to sneer at pure learning and are beginning to ask themselves if a university or any other agency should subsidize research upon the lesser-known laundry bills of D. H. Lawrence or on the nature of the black spots that sometimes appear on some eggs of some sea-urchins.
     Peter Medawar, "The Pure Science" (New York Times, 24 June 1973)


Students of Soviet affairs know how difficult it is to foretell the Soviet past.
     George Paloczi-Horvath, Khrushchev (1960)


An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn't happen today.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


Economic forecasters exist to make astrologers look good.
     Robert B. Reich


"Anyway, that's a large part of what economics is — people arbitrarily, or as a matter of taste, assigning numerical values to non-numerical things. And then pretending that they haven't just made the numbers up, which they have. Economics is like astrology in that sense, except that economics serves to justify the current power structure, and so it has a lot of fervent believers among the powerful."
     Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars (1993)


Their guess [economists'] is as good as anybody else's.
     Will Rogers


Economists are about as useful as astrologers in predicting the future (and, like astrologers, they never let failure on one occasion diminish certitude on the next).
     Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.


If all economists were laid end to end, they would not reach a conclusion.
     George Bernard Shaw


Horngren's Observation: Among economists, the real world is often a special case.


Usually when people talk about the trickle-down theory, it has to do with economics. The richer people at the top of a society become, supposedly, the more wealth there is to trickle down to the people below. It never really works out that way, of course, because if there are 2 things people at the top can't stand, they have to be leakage and overflow.
     Kurt Vonnegut, Hocus Pocus (1990)


The trouble with the profit system has always been that it was highly unprofitable to most people.
     E. B. White, "One Man's Meat," Harper's (1942)





Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.
     Abigail Adams


The chief wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned in it, teachers and taught.
     Henry Adams


Nothing in education is so astonishing as the amount of ignorance it accumulates in the form of inert facts.
     Henry Brooks Adams


Education is the only business in which people will accept much less than what they pay for.


It is not even knowing that really adds a joy to life, but the ability and eagerness to learn. ... To learn is to broaden, to experience more, to snatch new aspects of life for yourself.
     Isaac Asimov, “Essay 400 — A Way of Thinking”
     (The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, December 1994)


The whole proper point of education is to help people learn to think for themselves; and the actions of free people who think for themselves are disparate and unpredictable.
     Henry H. Bauer, Scientific Literacy and the
     Myth of the Scientific Method


My degree was a kind of inoculation. I got just enough education to make me immune from it for the rest of my life.
     Alan Bennett


As I look back upon my education in chemistry and physics, I see that each year I learned that the stuff I learned the previous year was either a special case of a more general theory, an approximation, or, on occasion, an outright lie! Nonetheless, I needed those lower order approximations to be able to make sense of more general and conceptually more difficult formulations.
     Don A. Berkowitz


And furthermore, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.
     Bible, Ecclesiastes 12:12


All this has its “lesson to parents”:  stop this senseless and purposeless cultivation of your children’s “moral natures,” developing their intellects instead.  Repress their emotional tendencies and teach them to think.  Only the person who has been trained to think can be trusted to feel.
     Ambrose Bierce, “Prosperous Penitents” (Wasp, 1882)


Education, n.  That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)


Learning, n.  The kind of ignorance distinguishing the studious.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)


The most that learning can do for us is to teach us how little we know.
     Josh Billings


If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
     Derek Bok


Education is learning what you didn't even know you didn't know.
     Daniel J. Boorstin


Being dead is one way to experience nothing — another is to attend some classes at my school.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


I was educated once, and it took me years to get over it.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


There’s so much to learn and so much of it not worth learning.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Education makes a people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern but impossible to enslave.
     Henry Peter Brougham, Speech to the
     House of Commons (29 January 1828)


Part of the American myth is that people who are handed the skin of a dead sheep at graduating time think that it will keep their minds alive forever.
     John Mason Brown


[Education] ... One of the few things a person is willing to pay for and not get.
     William Lowe Bryan


You keep hearing that society’s greatest tasks are educating people and getting them jobs.  That’s great.  Two things people hate to do:  go to school and go to work.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


'And how many hours a day did you do lessons?' said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject.
     'Ten hours the first day,' said the Mock Turtle: 'nine the next, and so on.'
     'What a curious plan!' exclaimed Alice.
     'That's the reason they're called lessons,' the Gryphon remarked: 'because they lessen from day to day.'
          Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865)


He is to be educated because he is a man, and not because he is to make shoes, nails, and pins.
     William Ellery Channing


I have always had a curious nature; I enjoy learning, but I dislike being taught.
     Sir Winston Churchill


… no matter what the size the aquarium of one’s learning,
another colored pebble can always be dropped in.
     Billy Collins, Picnic, Lightning (1998)
     “What I Learned Today”


Just as eating against one’s will is injurious to health, so study without a liking for it spoils the memory, and it retains nothing it takes in.
     Leonardo da Vinci, Notebooks (c. 1500)


It is disconcerting to reflect on the number of students we have flunked in chemistry for not knowing what we later found to be untrue.
     Deming, attributed by B. R. Bertramson
     (quoted in Robert L. Weber (ed.), Science With A Smile, 1992)


The result of the educative process is capacity for further education.
     John Dewey


Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself.
     John Dewey, attributed


The trouble with being educated is that it takes a long time; it uses up the better part of your life and when you are finished what you know is that you would have benefited more by going into banking.
     Philip K. Dick, The Transmigration of Timothy Archer (1982)


Vether it’s worth goin’ through so much, to learn so little, as the charity-boy said ven he got to the end of the alphabet, is a matter o’ taste.
     Mr. Weller in Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers (1837)


The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but the transference of bones from one graveyard to another.
     Frank J. Dobie


“Education never ends, Watson.  It is a series of lessons with the greatest for the last.”
     Sherlock Holmes in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, His Last Bow (1917)
     “The Adventure of the Red Circle”


How is it that little children are so intelligent and men so stupid? It must be education that does it.
     Alexandre Dumas fils


You can lade a man up to th’ university, but ye can’t make him think.
     Finley Peter Dunne


Education is a progressive discovery of our ignorance.
     Will Durant


Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.
     Arnold Edinborough


It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.
     Albert Einstein


It is the attitude of mind developed in the student as he proceeds with his studies, and not primarily the information he acquires, which determine the character and extent of his education.
     Luther Eisenhardt


The things taught in colleges and schools are not an education, but the means of education.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson


The best university that can be recommended to a man of ideas is the gauntlet of the mobs.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Society and Solitude (1870)


We must not believe the many, who say that only free people ought to be educated, but we should rather believe the philosophers who say that only the educated are free.
     Epictetus, Discourses (ca. 110 AD)


What is education, in fact, but a means for changing human nature?
     Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense (1945, 1958)


There is a great danger in the present day lest science-teaching should degenerate into the accumulation of disconnected facts and unexplained formulae, which burden the memory without cultivating the understanding.
     J. D. Everett, preface to his 1873 English translation of 
     Elementary Treatise on Natural Philosophy
by A Privat Deschanel


Education: Being able to differentiate between what you do know and what you don’t. It’s knowing where to go to find out what you need to know; and it’s knowing how to use the information once you get it.
     William Feather


Never underestimate the joy people derive from hearing something they already know.
     Enrico Fermi


Education is a strong force, but for either good or evil.
     Richard Feynman, “The Value of Science” (speech at NAS meeting, 1955)


Education seems to be in America the only commodity of which the customer tries to get as little he can for his money.
     Max Forman


Perhaps, like many amateurs’ problems, it is no problem, but one of those solemn mystifications which are erected by ignorance, and which would disappear under proper instruction.
     E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)


Creative minds have always been known to survive any kind of bad training.
     Anna Freud


Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.
     Robert Frost


You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself.
     Galileo Galilei


The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous.
     Edward Gibbon


The only real education comes from what goes counter to you.
     André Gide


The advantage of a classical education is that it enables you to despise the wealth which it prevents you from achieving.
     Russell Green


Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.
     Sir William Haley


The primary purpose of a liberal education is to make one's mind a pleasant place in which to spend one's time.
     Sidney J. Harris


That which one has been long learning unwillingly, he unlearns with proportional eagerness and haste.
     William Hazlitt


I had discovered that learning something, no matter how complex, wasn’t hard when I had a reason to want to know it.
     Homer H. Hickam, Jr., Rocket Boys (1998, republished as October Sky)


Some watch others to learn what to do, and some watch to learn what not to do.
     Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954)


It's what we learn after we think we know it all that counts.
     Kin Hubbard


Common sense is in spite of, not as the result of education.
     Victor Hugo


To behold is not necessary to observe, and the power of comparing and combining is only to be obtained by education. It is much to be regretted that habits of exact observation are not cultivated in our schools; to this deficiency may be traced much of the fallacious reasoning, the false philosophy which prevails.
     Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt


Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson that ought to be learned; and however early a man's training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.
     Thomas Henry [T. H.] Huxley


Whoever ceases to be a student has never been a student.
     George Iles


Education is the most radical thing in the world. To teach the alphabet is to inaugurate a revolution. To build a schoolhouse is to construct a fort. Every library is an arsenal filled with the weapons and ammunition of Progress, and every fact is a monitor with sides of iron and a turret of steel.
     Robert Ingersoll, On the Gods and Other Essays (Paul Kurtz, ed., 1990)


You have got to stretch your mind, further and further. The alternative is letting it congeal, harden, and contract. You must be able to see more and understand more than most folks or you're never going to be able to explain what you do see to most folks.
     Molly Ivins, Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? (1991)


They (academics) commit their pupils to the theatre of the world, with just taste enough of learning to be alienated from industrious pursuits, and not enough to do service in the ranks of science.
     Thomas Jefferson


Enough for theory. Admittedly, it's complicated stuff. But we'll return to it later, and a firm pedagogical principle acquired from forty or so years of facing students — freshmen to postdocs — says that even if the first pass is 97 percent incomprehensible, the next time you see it, it will be, somehow, hauntingly familiar.
     Leon Lederman, The God Particle: If the Universe is the
     Answer, What is the Question?
(with Dick Teresi, 1993)


Almost like the drunk clutching the lamp post, scientists clutch education as a long-term solution to the problem. People have long placed faith in education — from Thales of Miletus to Richard Feynman of Brighton Beach, from the ancient prophets of biblical times to the profits of McGraw Hill, from King Solomon, who was the education king, to George Bush, the education president. Education is my approach, too. (It is now known as “.edu”.) This almost unreasoned belief in education is our article of faith. Of course, there are a depressing number of examples to tell us that education does not inevitably produce ethical, virtuous, or even wise human beings.
     Leon Lederman, “A Strategy for Saving Science”
     (Skeptical Inquirer, Nov/Dec 1996)


Beware of analogies: for millennia they corrupted medicine, and it may be their fault that today's pedagogical systems are so numerous, and after three thousand years of argument we still don't actually know which is best.
     Primo Levi, The Monkey's Wrench (1978)


"The fact is that in real life things are never that simple. Only the problems they make you do in school are simple."
     Primo Levi, The Monkey's Wrench (1978)


It is tiresome to hear education discussed, tiresome to educate, and tiresome to be educated. [Lord Melbourne was political tutor to Queen Victoria.]
     William Lamb, second Viscount Melbourne


Most people do not care to be taught what they do not already know; it makes them feel ignorant.
     Mary McCarthy


Parents getting kids out of the house in the morning have little time for writing notes that they know will wind up in the school garbage anyway. They're so harried they'll say, Oh, you need an excuse note for yesterday, honey? Write it yourself and I'll sign it. They sign it without even looking at it and the sad part is they don't know what they're missing. If they could read those notes they'd discover their kids are capable of the finest American prose: fluent, imaginative, clear, dramatic, fantastic, focused, persuasive, useful.
     Frank McCourt, Teacher Man (2005)


You read the poem. Something happened, something moved in your head in your body, in your lunch box. Or nothing happened. You’re not required to respond to every stimulus in the universe. You’re not weather vanes.
     Mr. McCourt, what are you talking about?
     I’m saying you don’t have to respond to everything a teacher or anyone else sets before you.
          Frank McCourt, Teacher Man (2005)


School days, I believe, are the unhappiest in the whole span of human existence. They are full of dull, unintelligible tasks, new and unpleasant ordinances, brutal violations of common sense and common decency.
     H. L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun (1928)


I think it speaks volumes about how little we value basic education in America that only one out of the three R's actually begins with the letter "R".
     Dennis Miller, Dennis Miller Live (April 28, 2000)


What is the use of learning, if understanding is absent?
     Michel de Montaigne


The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.
     Ellen Parr


Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


The principal goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done.
     Jean Piaget


The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.


Some people never learn anything because they understand everything too soon.
     Alexander Pope


Once you have learned how to ask questions — relevant and appropriate and substantial questions — you have learned how to learn and no one can keep you from learning whatever you want or need to know.
     Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, 
     Teaching as a Subversive Activity


Real education must ultimately be limited to men who insist on knowing — the rest is mere sheep-herding.
     Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (1934)


Getting an education was a bit like a communicable sexual disease.  It made you unsuitable for a lot of jobs and then you had the urge to pass it on.
     Terry Pratchett, Hogfather (1996)


Learning in old age is writing on sand but learning in youth is engraving on stone.
     Arabian Proverb


A single conversation with a wise man is better than ten years of study.
     Chinese Proverb


Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.
     Chinese Proverb


The man who does not learn is dark, like one walking in the night.
     Chinese Proverb


Learning makes the wise wiser and the fool more foolish.
     John Ray


The State of California has no business subsidizing intellectual curiosity.
     Ronald Reagan


There is nothing so stupid as the educated man if you get off the thing he was educated in.
     Will Rogers


A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education he may steal the whole railroad.
     Theodore Roosevelt


YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: Don't memorize, understand.
     Tony Rothman, Instant Physics: From Aristotle to Einstein, and Beyond (1995)


YOU MUST REMEMBER THIS: If you ask a stupid question, you may feel stupid; if you don't ask a stupid question, you remain stupid.
     Tony Rothman, Instant Physics: From Aristotle to Einstein, and Beyond (1995)


Education does not mean teaching people to know what they do not know; it means teaching them to behave as they do not behave.
     John Ruskin


Children are made to learn bits of Shakespeare by heart, with the result that ever after they associate him with pedantic boredom. If they could meet him in the flesh, full of jollity and ale, they would be astonished, and if they had never heard of him before they might be led by his jollity to see what he had written. But if at school they had been inoculated against him, they will never be able to enjoy him. The same sort of thing applies to music lessons. Human beings have certain capacities for spontaneous enjoyment, but moralists and pedants possess themselves of the apparatus of these enjoyments, and having extracted what they consider the poison of pleasure they leave them dreary and dismal and devoid of everything that gives them value. Shakespeare did not write with a view to boring school-children; he wrote with a view to delighting his audiences. If he does not give you delight, you had better ignore him.
     Bertrand Russell


Education, which was at first made universal in order that all might be able to read and write, has been found capable of serving quite other purposes. By instilling nonsense it unifies populations and generates collective enthusiasm.
     Bertrand Russell


Men are born ignorant, not stupid; they are made stupid by education.
     Bertrand Russell


We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.
     Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays (1928)


Science teaching. There are just too many cases where the science teacher merely hands down, as if from Mount Sinai, the findings of science without giving any idea of the method by which that information was acquired. So when someone else comes along and hands down, as if from Mount Sinai, a result from pseudoscience, it sounds just the same. Wouldn't it be great if science textbooks spent some time on erroneous past understanding that everybody believed, that the church and the state and the scientists and the philosophers and the schools all taught, and turned out to be completely wrong? Isn't that a very useful lesson to teach our children?
     Carl Sagan, Interview with Stephen Budiansky, U.S. News Online (1996)


Our civilization will break down if the schools fail to teach the incoming generation that there are some things that are not done.
     Gaetano Salvemini


Education is what remains when we have forgotten all that we have been taught.
     George Savile


True education makes for inequality; the inequality of individuality, the inequality of success, the glorious inequality of talent, of genius.
     Felix E. Schelling


I know the answer! The answer lies within the heart of all mankind! The answer is twelve? I think I'm in the wrong building.
     Peppermint Patty in Charles M. Schulz, "Peanuts"


Do you know the difference between education and experience? Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don't.
     Pete Seeger


I respect no study and deem no study good, which results in money-making.
     Seneca, Epistolae ad Lucilium


[Education] ... A succession of eye-openers each involving the repudiation of some previously held belief.
     George Bernard Shaw


"Their periodic table has 250 elements."
"Our school boards cut us back to sixteen — all of them lanthanides."
     Lisa Simpson and Principal Skinner in The Simpsons (2/17/2002)


Education is what survives when what has been learnt has been forgotten.
     Burrhus Frederic Skinner, New Scientist (21 May 1964)


[Education] ... The inculcation of the incomprehensible into the ignorant by the incompetent.
     Josiah Stamp


Open your mind to the past — art, history, philosophy — and all this may mean something.
     Jean-Luc Picard, "Samaritan Snare"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Nothing solidifies one's knowledge of a field or shows where the gaps in one's knowledge are like trying to explain the subject to someone else. Experienced teachers do not exaggerate when they say you never really understand a subject until you've taught it.
     James Trefil, Reading the Mind of God: In Search
     of the Principle of Universality


Education . . . has produced a vast population able to read but unable to distinguish what is worth reading, an easy prey to sensations and cheap appeals.
     George Macaulay Trevelyan, English Social History (1942)


Soap and education are not a sudden as a massacre but they are more deadly in the long run ...
     Mark Twain, "Facts Concerning the Recent Resignation" (1867)


Schoolboy days are no happier than the days of after life, but we look back upon them regretfully because we have forgotten our punishments at school, and how we grieved when our marbles were lost and our kites destroyed — because we have forgotten all the sorrows and privations of that canonized epoch and remember only its orchard robberies, its wooden sword pageants, and its fishing holidays.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)


A man who cannot learn stands in his own light.
     Mark Twain, "An Entertaining Article" (1870)


Monday morning found Tom Sawyer miserable. Monday morning always found him so — because it began another week's slow suffering in school. He generally began that day with wishing he had had no intervening holiday, it made the going into captivity and fetters again so much more odious.
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)


... a full belly is little worth where the mind is starved, and the heart. ... learning sofeneth the heart and breedeth gentleness and charity.
     Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper (1882)


Well, three or four months run along and it was well into the winter now. I had been to school most all the time and could spell and read and write just a little, and could say the multiplication table up to six times seven is thirty-five, and I don't reckon I could ever get any further than that if I was to live forever. I don't take no stock in mathematics, anyway.
     Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)


Knowledge has to be acquired by hard work; none of it is flung at our heads gratis.
     Mark Twain, "Papers of the Adam Family: 
     Extract from Eve's Autobiography" (1890?)


Apparently — like our public-school boy — his "education" consists in learning things, not the meaning of them; he is fed upon the husks, not the corn.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898


I don't suppose that I am called here as an expert on education, for that would show a lack of foresight on your part and a deliberate intention to remind me of my shortcomings.
     Mark Twain, "Public Education Association" (speech, November 23, 1900)


We believe that out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation. ... I believe it is better to support schools than jails.
     Mark Twain, "Public Education Association" (speech, November 23, 1900)


It is not on account of his education that I love him — no, it is not that. He is self-educated, and does really know a multitude of things, but they are not so.
     Mark Twain, "Eve's Diary" (1905)


He [Admiral Stormfield] was never at school; such education as he had, he had picked up by odds and ends, and it was rather a junk-shop than a treasury; though that was not his idea of it. He had very decided opinions upon most matters, and he had architected them himself. Sometimes they were not sound, but what they lacked in soundness they generally made up in originality.
     Mark Twain, "The Refuge of the Derelicts" (1905)


It is noble to teach oneself, but still nobler to teach others — and less trouble.
     Mark Twain, "Doctor Van Dyke" (speech, 1906)


Everything has its limit — iron ore cannot be educated into gold.
     Mark Twain, “What Is Man?” (1906)


Learning began with talk and is therefore older than books. Our opinions do not really blossom into fruition until we have expressed them to someone else.
     Mark Twain, Opie Read, Mark Twain and I (1940)


I never let my schooling interfere with my education.
     Mark Twain, attributed; in Alex Ayres (ed.), 
     The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain


Education is the only business where the consumer is more interested in the receipt than in the product.


He who dares to teach must never cease to learn.


Learning makes a man fit company for himself.


I am convinced that it is of primordial importance to learn more every year than the year before. After all, what is education but a process by which a person begins to learn how to learn.
     Peter Ustinov, Dear Me (1977)


The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.
     Mark van Doren


The modern child, when asked what he learned today, replies, "Nothing, but I gained some meaningful insights."
     Bill Vaughan


Virtue, study, and gaity are three sisters who should not be separated.
     Voltaire, letter to Frederick the Great (1737)


High School is closer to the core of the American experience than anything else I can think of.
     Kurt Vonnegut, Our Time is Now (J. Birmingham, ed., 1970)


This entirely fictitious count [Dracula], she knew, was a far more significant person to most of her students than George Washington, for instance, who was merely the founder of their country.
     Kurt Vonnegut, Galápagos (1985)


All school is is learning how to read and write.
     Kurt Vonnegut, "How To Get A Job Like Mine" 
     (Lecture, Austin, March 26 1993)


The way to capture a student's attention is with a demonstration where there is a possibility the teacher may die.
     Jearl Walker, Cleveland State University


As Enrico Fermi once said, one should never underestimate the pleasure we feel from hearing something we already know.
     Steven Weinberg, Dreams of a Final Theory: The Scientist's 
     Search for the Ultimate Laws of Nature


Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.
     Herbert George [H. G.] Wells, The Outline of History (1920)


How can anyone learn anything new who does not find it a shock?
     John Archibald Wheeler, A Journey into Gravity and Spacetime (1990)


[Education] ... [A process] which makes one rogue cleverer than another.
     Oscar Wilde


Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
     Oscar Wilde, "A Few Maxims for the Instruction of the Over-Educated"


The only way to atone for being occasionally a little over-dressed is by being always absolutely over-educated.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" ( 1894)


An educated man is one who can entertain a new idea, entertain another person and entertain himself.
     Sydney Wood


In school, every period ends with a bell. Every sentence ends with a period. Every crime ends with a sentence.
     Steven Wright


Every fact that is learned becomes a key to other facts.
     Edward Livingston Youmans



My college education was no haphazard affair. My courses were all selected with a very definite aim in view, with a serious purpose in mind — no classes before eleven in the morning or after two-thirty in the afternoon, and nothing on Saturday at all — on that rock was my education built.
     Robert Benchley, quoted in Robert E.
     Drennan (ed.), The Algonquin Wits (1985)


Academe, n.  An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
Academy, n.  (from academe).  A modern school where football is taught.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)


University, n.  In the United States, an institution uncompromisingly committed to the pursuit of excellence in football and, occasionally, other academic disciplines.
     Chaz Bufe, The American Heretic’s Dictionary (1992)


The only answer lies in education, and even that is merely a palliative, not a panacea, for a college degree is no guarantee of wisdom, as anyone who has ever been near a campus will testify. There are many people in the world who have been educated beyond their intelligence, but there are far, far more who have not been educated to within hailing distance of it.
     Arthur C. Clarke, Voices from the Sky: 
     A Preview of the Coming Space Age
     “The Lunatic Fringe”


People will frighten you about a graduation. ... They use words you don’t hear often. ... “And we wish you Godspeed.” It is a warning, Godpeed. It means you are no longer welcome here at these prices.
     Bill Cosby, Southern Methodist University Graduation (speech, 1995)


We are shut up in schools and college recitation rooms for ten or fifteen years, and come out at last with a bellyful of words and do not know a thing.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson


About a century ago, Americans set out to experience the higher learning, but after a brief trial, they found they didn’t like it. ... An acquaintance with the principles of logic and evidence was found an actual impediment to enthusiasm and good fellowship, and skeptical studies in the history of popular error and the domination of societies by superstition and mobs seemed undemocratic, indeed “elitist.”
     Paul Fussell, BAD, or, The Dumbing of America (1991)


A college degree does not lessen the length of your ears; it only conceals it.
     Elbert Hubbard


Everyone has a right to a university degree in America, even if it's in Hamburger Technology.
     Clive James


Among the financially gifted parents of academically challenged students along the Eastern Seaboard, the college is known as St. Jude's, after the patron saint of hopeless causes, a place where you can pack off your SPASM child (Simply Pray And Send Money) and feel that, barring a felony conviction, he or she will get to wear a black gown and attend graduation and receive a sheepskin with the St. James crest ("Omnibus Omnia") on it. Tuition at St. James is equivalent to that at Harvard or Yale, on the theory that charity should not come cheap.
     Garrison Keillor, Wobegon Boy (1997)


The purpose of a university is to make students safe for ideas — not ideas safe for students.
     Clark Kerr, President of the University of California


I'm still waiting for some college to come up with a march protesting student ignorance.
     Paul Larmer, Chicago Tribune


"Have we got a stadium?"
"Have we got a college?"
"Well, we can’t support both.  Tomorrow we start tearing down the college."
"But, Professor, where will the students sleep?"
"Where they always sleep: in the classroom."
     Professor Wagstaff (Groucho Marx) and the Professors in
          The Marx Brothers, Horse Feathers (movie, 1932)


Hamlet is the tragedy of tackling a family problem too soon after college.
     Tom Masson


At some time in the recent past someone had decided to brighten the ancient corridors of the University by painting them, having some vague notion that Learning Should Be Fun. It hadn’t worked. It’s a fact known throughout the universes that no matter how carefully the colors are chosen, institutional decor ends up as either vomit green, unmentionable brown, nicotine yellow or surgical appliance pink. By some little-understood process of sympathetic resonance, corridors painted in those colors always smell slightly of boiled cabbage — even if no cabbage is ever cooked in the vicinity.
     Terry Pratchett, Equal Rites (1987)


Many things went on at Unseen University and, regrettably, teaching had to be one of them.  The faculty had long ago confronted this fact and had perfected various devices for avoiding it.  But this was perfectly all right because, to be fair, so had the students.
     The system worked quite well and, as happens in such cases, had taken on the status of a tradition.  Lectures clearly took place, because they were down there on the timetable in black and white.  The fact that no one attended was an irrelevant detail.  It was occasionally maintained that this meant that the lectures did not in fact happen at all, but no one ever attended them to find out if this was true.  Anyway, it was argued (by the Reader in Wooly Thinking [which is like Fuzzy Logic, only less so]) that lectures had taken place in essence, so that was all right, too.
     And therefore education at the University mostly worked by the age-old method of putting a lot of young people in the vicinity of a lot of books and hoping that something would pass from one to the other, while the actual young people put themselves in the vicinity of inns and taverns for exactly the same reason.
     Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times (1994)


“What sort of people would we be if we didn’t go into the Library?” [said Ridcully]
     “Students,” said the Senior Wrangler morosely.
          Terry Pratchett, The Last Continent (1998)


A fool's brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
     George Bernard Shaw


Some men are graduated from college cum laude, some are graduated summa cum laude, and some are graduated mirabile dictu.
     William Howard Taft


American college students are like American colleges — each has half-dulled faculties.
     James Thurber


All schools, all colleges, have two great functions: to confer, and to conceal, valuable knowledge. The theological knowledge which they conceal cannot justly be regarded as less valuable than that which they reveal. That is, when a man is buying a basket of strawberries it can profit him to know that the bottom half of it is rotten.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (Merle Johnson, ed., 1927)



"How was your first day as a substitute school teacher?"
"Imagine feeling completely powerless . . . like a marble statue . . ."
"Gosh . . . that sounds pretty bad."
"Now imagine the biggest flock of pigeons you ever saw . . ."
     Dilbert and Dogbert, Scott Adams, Shave the Whales (“Dilbert,” 1994)


Those who can’t do, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach gym. And of course, those who couldn’t do anything, I think, were assigned to our school.
     Woody Allen, Annie Hall (with Marshall Brickman, movie, 1977)


The truly successful teacher is the one you will never need again.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


You see, in education, as in everything, you get what you pay for, and these kids probably do as well on any competency tests as their teachers, which is a tribute to those teachers, considering they’re paid almost as well as the prison guards whose functions they have largely assumed.  But let’s not feel sorry for our teachers.  Money isn’t everything.  What we don’t pay them in cash is more than made up for by the prestige of the position.
     A. Whitney Brown, The Big Picture: An American Commentary (1991)


Some people talk in their sleep. Lecturers talk while other people sleep.
     Albert Camus


Don’t try to fix the students, fix ourselves first. The good teacher makes the poor student good and the good student superior. When our students fail, we, as teachers too, have failed.
     Marva Collins


I’ve just decided to switch our Friday schedule to Monday, which means that the test we take each Friday on what we learned during the week will now take place on Monday before we’ve learned it. But since today is Tuesday, it doesn’t matter in the slightest.
     Mr. Turkentine (David Battley) in Roald Dahl, David Seltzer (uncredited),
          Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory


Of course you don’t know. You don’t know because only I know. If you knew and I didn’t know, then you’d be teaching me instead of me teaching you — and for a student to be teaching his teacher is presumptuous and rude. Do I make myself clear?
     Mr. Turkentine (David Battley) in Roald Dahl, David Seltzer (uncredited),
          Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory


Discipline and freedom are, like the position and momentum of an electron, complementary aspects of education that are both essential. Somehow or other, teachers have to supply both. That is the true vocation of a teacher, to start all the children learning with an equal dose of discipline, and then to know when it is time for discipline to stop and freedom to begin. That is a difficult, almost an impossible, vocation. That is why teachers deserve our deep respect.
     Freeman Dyson, From Eros to Gaia (1992)


Most ideas about teaching are not new, but not everyone knows the old ideas.
     Euclid, c. 300 BC


The lecturer should give the audience full reason to believe that all his powers have been exerted for their pleasure and instruction.
     Michael Faraday


... I find that teaching and the students keep life going, and I would never accept any position in which somebody has invented a happy situation for me where I don’t have to teach. Never.
     Richard Feynman


Teachers are people who start things they never see finished, and for which then never get thanks until it is too late.
     Max Forman


Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things.  Awaken people’s curiosity.  It is enough to open minds; do not overload them.
     Anatole France


The whole art of teaching is simply the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.
     Anatole France, The Crime of Sylvestre Bonnard (1881)


Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre.
     Gail Godwin


Part of the art of teaching is not to tell the truth completely.
     Kurt Gottfried


There is no clearer manifestation of pure evil than teachers giving assignments over holiday breaks.
     James Halloran


Any good teacher will tell you that aiming at the lowest common denominator is poor practice. In communicating anything, you do better if you aim slightly above the heads of your audience. If you make them stretch a little, they respond better. 
     Molly Ivins, Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? (1991)


Lectures were once useful; but now, when all can read, and books are so numerous, lectures are unnecessary. If your attention fails, and you miss a part of a lecture, it is lost; you cannot go back as you do upon a book. . . . People have nowadays got a strange opinion that everything should be taught by lectures. Now, I cannot see that lectures can do as much good as reading the books from which the lectures are taken. I know nothing that can be best taught by lectures, except where experiments are to be shown. You may teach chymistry by lectures. You might teach making shoes by lectures!
     Samuel Johnson, Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791)


To teach is to learn twice.
     Joseph Joubert


Education is too important to be left solely to educators.
     Francis Keppel


Most people tire of a lecture in ten minutes; clever people can do it in five. Sensible people never go to lectures at all.
     Stephen Leacock


A man who knows a subject thoroughly, a man so soaked in it that he eats it, sleeps it, dreams it — this man can always teach it with success, no matter how little he knows of technical pedagogy.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series (1917)


In teaching it is the method and not the content that is the message . . . the drawing out, not the pumping in.
     Ashley Montague


The teacher's life is painfull and therefore would be pityed: it wrestles with unthankfulnesse above all measure... Our calling creepes low and hath pain for companion.
     Richard Mulcaster, Positions


I am inclined to think that one's education has been in vain if one fails to learn that most schoolmasters are idiots.
     Hesketh Pearson


"It would seem that you have no useful skill or talent whatsoever," he [Mr. Keeble, a job broker] said [to Death]. "Have you thought of going into teaching?"
     Terry Pratchett, Mort (1987)


“I didn’t start out a barbarian.  I used to be a school teacher. ... But I decided to give it up and make a living by the sword.” [said Mr. Saveloy]
     “After being a teacher all your life?” [said Rincewind]
     “It did mean a change of perspective, yes.”
     “But . . . well . . . surely . . . the privation, the terrible hazards, the daily risk of death . . .”
     Mr. Saveloy brightened up.  “Oh, you’ve been a teacher, have you?”
          Terry Pratchett, Interesting Times (1994)


Successful teachers are effective in spite of the psychological theories they suffer under.
     Educational Proverb


Tell me and I'll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I'll understand.
     Native American Proverb


The vanity of teaching doth oft tempt a man to forget that he is a blockhead.
     George Savile


It is when the gods hate a man with uncommon abhorrence that they drive him into the profession of a school-master.


He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
     George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903)
     "Maxims for Revolutionists"


When teaching, light a fire, don't fill a bucket.
     Dan Snow


One must spend time in gathering knowledge to give it out richly.
     Edward C. Steadman


The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
     William Arthur Ward


Perhaps there is something innate that in the first place disposes a man to become a University teacher or specialist. He is, I suspect, more often than not by nature and instinctively afraid of the insecure uproar of things. Visit him in college and you will see that he does not so much live there as lurk.
     Herbert George [H. G.] Wells, The World of William Clissold



SAT tests are designed by huge panels of experts in education and psychology who work for years to design tests in which not one single question measures any bit of knowledge that anyone might actually need in the real world. We should applaud kids for getting lower scores.
     Dave Barry


I believe that American schoolchildren should be given standardized national educational tests, and I will tell you exactly why: Because I am not a schoolchild. I am strongly in favor of things that I, personally, do not have to do. Childbirth is another example.
     Dave Barry, “Dave Barry in 2004” (2001)


I wrote my name at the top of the page.  I wrote down the number of the question “1”.  After much reflection I put a bracket round it thus “(1)”.  But thereafter I could not think of anything connected with it that was either relevant or true.
     Sir Winston Churchill, My Early Life (1930)


One had to cram all this stuff into one’s mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect on me that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year.
     Albert Einstein


In an examination those who do not wish to know ask questions of those who cannot tell.
     Sir Walter Alexander Raleigh, Some Thoughts on Examinations


Analytic problems are ones formulated by other people, clearly defined, that come accompanied by all the information required to solve them, have only one right answer, are disembedded from ordinary experience and have no intrinsic interest: a school exam, in short.
     Matt Ridley, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters (1999)


On one occasion a student burst into his office. “Professor Stigler, I don’t believe I deserve this F you’ve given me.” To which Stigler replied, “I agree, but unfortunately it is the lowest grade the University will allow me to award.”


In a survey taken several years ago, all incoming freshman at MIT were asked if they expected to graduate in the top half of their class. Ninety-seven percent responded that they did.


In examinations the foolish ask question that the wise cannot answer.
     Oscar Wilde, "Phrases and Philosophies for the Use of the Young" (1894)





Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.
     Ambrose Bierce


When anger rises, think of the consequences.


It is by no means self-evident that human beings are most real when most violently excited; violent physical passions do not in themselves differentiate men from each other, but rather tend to reduce them to the same state.
     T. S. Eliot, "After Strange Gods" (1934)


Anger blows out the lamp of the mind.
     Robert Ingersoll


When angry, count ten before you speak; if very angry, an hundred.
     Thomas Jefferson, "Decalogue of Canons for Observation 
     in Practical Life" (February 21, 1825)


Indignation is the seducer of thought. No man can think clearly when his fists are clenched.
     George Jean Nathan, The World in Falseface (1923)


The heart has its reasons that reason does not know.
     Blaise Pascal, Pensées (1670)


Never write a letter while you are angry.
     Chinese Proverb


Passion often turns the cleverest man into an idiot, and makes the stupidest men clever.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


"The release of emotions, Mr. Spock, is what keeps us healthy — emotionally healthy, that is."
"That may be, Doctor. However, I have noted that the healthy release of emotion is frequently very unhealthy for those closest to you."
     McCoy and Spock, "Plato's Stepchildren"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


... pain and guilt can't be taken away with a wave of a magic wand. They're the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them we lose ourselves. I don't want my pain taken away! I need my pain!
     Captain Kirk, STAR TREK V The Final Frontier


"I never realized I had such dark impulses."
"Without the darkness, how would we recognize the light? Do not fear your negative thoughts. They are a part of you. They are a part of every living being — even Vulcans."
"The Vulcan heart was forged out of barbarism and violence. We learned to control it, but it is still part of us. To pretend it does not exist is to create an opportunity for it to escape."
     Kes and Tuvok, "Cold Fire"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager


You can't reason with your heart; it has its own laws, and thumps about things which the intellect scorns.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)


It takes me a long time to lose my temper, but once lost I could not find it with a dog.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1894


When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.
     Mark Twain, Notebook, 1898


The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray.
     Oscar Wilde


Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.
          The Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan)
          Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf,
          The Wizard of Oz (movie, 1939)


A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others.
          The Wizard of Oz/Professor Marvel (Frank Morgan)
          Noel Langley, Florence Ryerson, and Edgar Allan Woolf,
          The Wizard of Oz (movie, 1939)





One should forgive one's enemies, but not before they are hanged.
     Heinrich Heine


Friends may come and go, but enemies accumulate.
     Thomas Jones


Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us.
     Walt Kelly, The Pogo Papers (1953)


Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
     John Fitzgerald Kennedy


It is better for my enemy to see good in me than for me to see evil in him.


When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.
     African Proverb


Observe your enemies, for they first find your faults.
     Greek Proverb


Use your enemy's hand to catch a snake.
     Persian Proverb


If your enemy turns to flee, give him a silver bridge.
     Spanish Proverb


Be thine enemy an ant, see in him an elephant.
     Turkish Proverb


We generally lack the courage to say that we have no faults and our enemies no virtues, but we actually are not far from thinking it.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Our enemies come nearer the truth in their opinion of us than we do in our opinion of ourselves.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


We love those who hate our enemies, and if we had no enemies, there would be very few people whom we should love.
     Bertrand Russell


There's an old saying on Cardassia: "Enemies make dangerous friends."
     'Garak', "The Search, Part II"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


Always forgive your enemies — nothing annoys them so much.
     Oscar Wilde


A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
     Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)



Engineering and Technology


I've come up with a set of rules that describe our reactions to technologies:
     1. Anything that is in the world when you're born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works.
     2. Anything that's invented between when you're fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.
     3. Anything invented after you're thirty-five is against the natural order of things.
          Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt: Hitchhiking
          the Galaxy One Last Time


Some people fear that technology will become more engaging than live human interactions. That's silly; technology is already way more interesting than other people.
     Scott Adams


Somewhere between desire and engineering lies stupidity.
     Dogbert in Scott Adams, Fugitive from
     the Cubicle Police
("Dilbert," 1996)


"I've got my 3-D stereo for life-like sound . . . I've got high-definition television for life-like video . . ."
"Do you have a life yet?"
"No, but I'm darn close."
     Dilbert and Dogbert in Scott Adams, Fugitive 
     from the Cubicle Police
("Dilbert," 1996)


Let's say that someday technology will allow anybody to find out every possible thing about my life. I can compensate by being to uninteresting that nobody could survive the process of snooping on me without lapsing into a coma.
     Scott Adams, The Dilbert Future: Thriving 
     on Stupidity in the 21st Century


Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics:
A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey orders given to it by a human being except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.
     Isaac Asimov


Science can amuse and fascinate us all, but it is engineering that changes the world.
     Isaac Asimov


On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament!], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
     Charles Babbage, "grandfather" of the modern computer


The goal of all inanimate objects is to resist man and ultimately defeat him.
     Russell Baker


Inanimate objects are classified scientifically into three major categories — those that don't work, those that break down and those that get lost.
     Russell Baker, New York Times (June 18, 1968)


A man showed a supposedly unbreakable watch to [Robert] Benchley and Dorothy Parker in a speakeasy. They promptly shook it, slammed it on the bar, and stamped on it. The dismayed owner picked it up, put it to his ear and exclaimed, "It stopped." "Maybe you wound it too tight," said Benchley.
     Robert Benchley


Phonograph, n. An irritating toy that restores life to dead noises.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


We humans seem to have a genetic trapping for grandiosity, and one has only to conjure up a few key words like Titanic, Hindenburg, and Spruce Goose to know that big things do break. Our misguided superiority complex creates an illusion of domination over our creations, but eventually they all turn around and bite us on the ass, just to remind us that we aren't as smart as we think we are.
     Jimmy Buffett, A Pirate Looks At Fifty (1998)


Everything beeps now.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


We will never be an advanced civilization as long as rain showers can delay the launching of a space rocket.
     George Carlin, Napalm & Silly Putty (2001)


Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
     Arthur C. Clarke, Profiles of the Future (1962; rev. 1973)


The history of the [space] shuttle is a typical example of a generic problem that occurs frequently in the development of science and technology, the problem of premature choice. Premature choice means betting all your money on one horse before you have found out whether she is lame. Politicians and administrators responsible for large project are often obsessed with avoiding waste. To avoid waste they find it reasonable to choose one design as soon as possible and shut down the support of alternatives. ... The evolution of science and technology is a Darwinian process of the survival of the fittest. In science and technology, as in biological evolution, waste is the secret of efficiency. Without waste you cannot find out which horse is the fittest. This is a hard lesson for politicians and administrators to learn.
     Freeman Dyson, From Eros to Gaia (1992)
     "Sixty Years of Space Science, 1958-2018" (1988)


In ancient days two aviators procured to themselves wings. Daedalus flew safely through the middle air and was duly honored on his landing. Icarus soared upwards to the sun till the wax melted which bound his wings and his flight ended in fiasco. In weighing their achievements, there is something to be said for Icarus. The classical authorities tell us that he was only "doing a stunt," but I prefer to think of him as the man who brought to light a serious constructional defect in the flying machines of his day.
     Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington


The first rule of intelligent tinkering is to save all the parts.
     Paul Ralph Ehrlich, Saturday Review (5 June 1971)


The fallacy of gadget-gloom is that it assumes that a complex device is complicated to manipulate; whereas the reverse is nearer the truth. An alarm clock, for all its cogs and wheels, is easier to read than a sun dial. A harness is a simple device compared with an electric starter, but hitching a horse is more difficult than stepping on a starter. A gyrocompass, once installed, is easier to operate than a tiller.
     Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense (1945, 1958)


It is not necessary to understand the way birds flap their wings and how the feathers are designed in order to make a flying machine. It is not necessary to understand the lever system in the legs of a cheetah — an animal that runs fast — in order to make an automobile with wheels that goes very fast. It is therefore not necessary to imitate the behavior of Nature in detail in order to engineer a device which can in many respects surpass Nature's abilities.
     Richard Feynman, "Computing Machines in the Future" 
     (lecture, Japan, August 1985); reprinted in The Pleasure 
     of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard 
     P. Feynman
(Jeffrey Robbins, ed., 1999)


For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
     Richard Feynman, "What Do You Care What Other People 
     Think?": Further Adventures of a Curious Character
     "Appendix F: Personal Observations on the Reliability of the Shuttle"


Technology [is] the knack of so arranging the world that we don't have to experience it.
     Max Frisch, Homo Faber (1957)


... showy technology can't redeem such human constant as stupidity and ineptitude. ...
     Paul Fussell, BAD, or, The Dumbing of America (1991)


Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
     Darth Vader (David Prowse, voice of James Earl Jones) in George Lucas,
          Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
(movie, 1977)


You know, the trouble with machinery is that charm doesn't work on it.
     Hawkeye (Alan Alda) in "Look Me Over"
     M*A*S*H (TV series, CBS, 1972-1983)


I guess I was always a child of the 24th century.
     Captain Janeway, "Resolutions"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager


Men have become fools with their tools.
     Thomas Elisha Stewart


That clock's wrong again. That clock hardly ever knows what time it is; and when it does know, it lies about it — which amounts to the same thing.
     Mark Twain, "The Loves of Alonzo Fitz 
     Clarence and Rosannah Ethelton" (1878)


When your watch gets out of order you have choice of two things to do: throw it in the fire or take it to the watch-tinker. The former is the quickest.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


When you think how well basic appliances work, it's hard to believe anyone ever gets on an airplane.
     Calvin in Bill Watterson, The Days Are Just Packed 
     ("Calvin and Hobbes," 1993)


Much of modern technology is based on science, but this recent association obscures crucial differences and the failure to distinguish between science and technology has played a major role in obscuring the nature of science. To put it briefly, science produces ideas whereas technology results in the production of usable objects. Technology — by which I mean the practical arts — is very much older than science. Unaided by science, technology gave rise to the crafts of primitive man, such as agriculture and metalworking, the Chinese triumphs of engineering, Renaissance cathedrals, and even the steam engine. Not until the nineteenth century did science have an impact on technology. In human evolution the ability to make tools, and so control the environment, was a great advantage, but the ability to do science was almost entirely irrelevant.
     Lewis Wolpert, The Unnatural Nature of Science (1993)


How to calculate correctly the forces acting on a structure became clear in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, but this knowledge began to be applied to building structures only in the nineteenth century: None of the buildings constructed before that time made use of any scientific principles that are used in modern engineering. They probably did make use of what may be thought of as 'The Five Minutes Theorem': if a structure was built and remained standing for five minutes after the supports had been removed, it was assumed it would stand up forever.
     Lewis Wolpert, The Unnatural Nature of Science (1993)


I invented the cordless extension cord.
     Steven Wright


I spent all my money on a FAX machine. Now I can only FAX collect.
     Steven Wright


I Xeroxed a mirror. Now I have an extra Xerox machine.
     Steven Wright



Entertainment, Fun, and Vacations


And yet here — he [Ford Prefect] activated the Guide again — was his own entry on how you would set about having a good time in Bournemouth, Dorset, England, which he had always prided himself on as being one of the most baroque pieces of invention he had ever delivered.
     Douglas Adams, So Long And Thanks For All The Fish (1985)


I have done some sailing myself, and let me tell you: There’s nothing quite like getting out on the open sea, where you can forget about the hassles and worries of life on land, and concentrate on the hassles and worries of life on the sea, such as death by squid.
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits (1988)
     “Snots at Sea”


Entertainment, n. Any kind of amusement whose inroads stop short of death by dejection.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Forty-five million people go to national parks each year. To get away from the other two hundred million.
     George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)


Chess is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency.
     Raymond Chandler


Instant gratification takes too long.
     Carrie Fisher


The problem with taking a vacation is that it's you that you have to take, and when you really need a vacation, a lot of time it's not that much fun to be yourself.
     Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion
     "News from Lake Wobegon" (February 6, 1993)


Partying is such sweet sorrow.
     Jean Kerr


"Lucy, I'm glad to find you here."
"I was hoping you'd find me in Bermuda."
     Jerry (Jason Bernard) and Lucy (Sandra Bullock) in 
     Daniel G. Sullivan & Frederic Lebow,
     While You Were Sleeping (movie, 1995)


I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.
     Groucho Julius Marx


Fun is a good thing but only when it spoils nothing better.
     George Santayana, The Sense of Beauty (1896)


Chess is a foolish expedient for making idle people believe they are doing something very clever when they are only wasting their time.
     George Bernard Shaw


Those who try to make life one long holiday find that they need a holiday from that too.
     George Bernard Shaw


After what this ship has been through in the last three months, where's not a crewman aboard who is not in need of a rest. Myself excepted, of course.
     Spock, "Shore Leave"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


On my planet, to rest is to rest — to cease using energy. To me it is quite illogical to run up and down on green grass using energy instead of saving it.
     Spock, "Shore Leave"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.
     James T. Kirk, "Shore Leave"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


If winning is not important, then Commander, why keep score?
     Worf, "11001001"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


You sleep a full third of your rotation. You rest and relax while you are awake. Alpha Quadrant has far too much "down time."
     Tosk, "Captive Pursuit"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


"With all these humans coming now, a true entrepreneur knows how to sniff the wind. ... Family entertainment: that's the future, Odo. There's a fortune to be made. Little holo-creatures running around, rides and games for the kiddies, Ferengis standing in every doorway selling useless souveneirs. ..."
"You're still disgusting."
"'Till the day I die."
     Quark and Odo, "If Wishes Were Horses"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


There's nothing so depressing as a winning streak that won't stop streaking.
     Quark, "Cardassians"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


If we had one of these on Enterprise, I'd never ask for shore leave.
     Tucker, on encountering his first alien holodeck, "Unexpected"


... it is worthwhile to get tired out, because one so enjoys resting afterward.
     Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad (1869)


It does us all good to unbend sometimes.
     Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper (1882)


Whenever I am rested and feeling good I can't help being frivolous.
     Mark Twain, "The Begum of Bengal" (speech, 1907)


Too much of a good thing is wonderful.
     Mae West


It was one of the great livery-stableman's most masterly intuitions to have discovered that Americans want to get away from amusement even more quickly than they want to get to it.
     Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence (1920)


I saw a sign: "Rest Area 25 Miles". That's pretty big. Some people must be really tired.
     Steven Wright


There aren't enough days in the weekend.
     Steven Wright



Envy and Jealousy


Envy is the most stupid of vices, for there is no single advantage to be gained from it.
     Honoré de Balzac, La Peau de Chagrin (1831)


The dullard's envy of brilliant men is always assuaged by the suspicion that they will come to a bad end.
     Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson (1911)


Hatred, n. A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Envy is the tax which all distinctions must pay.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals


Nothing sharpens sight like envy.
     Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732)


The envious die not once, but as often as the envied win applause.
     Baltasar Gracián, The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)


Jealousy is the theory that some other fellow has just as little taste.
     H. L. Mencken, A Mencken Chrestomathy (1949)
     "Sententiæ — Masculum et Feminam Creavit Eos"


Whenever I encounter envy I always try to provoke it: before an envious man I always praise those who make him turn pale.
     Baron de la Brède et de Montesquieu 
     (Charles-Louis de Secondat), Pensées (1750)


Jealousy feeds on doubts and either turns to fury or stops altogether, as soon as we exchange doubt for certainty.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims
(translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Envy is more implacable than hate.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims
(translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Jealousy is always born with love, but does not always die with it.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims
(translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Envy . . . is one form of a vice, partly moral, partly intellectual, which consists in seeing things never in themselves but only in their relations.
     Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness (1930)


Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.
     Herbert George [H. G.] Wells, The Wife of Sir Isaac Harman (1914)





Real equality is going to come not when a female Einstein is recognized as quickly as a male Einstein, but when a female schlemiel is promoted as quickly as a male schlemiel.
     Bella Abzug


The doctrine of human equality reposes on this: that there is no man really clever who has not found that he is stupid.
     G. K. Chesterton


The trouble with treating people as equals is that the first thing you know they may be doing the same thing to you.
     Peter De Vries


Some people talk to themselves. Some people sing to themselves. Is one group better than the other? Did not God create all people equal? Yes, God created all people equal. Only to some he have the ability to make up their own words.
     Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)
     "The Sound of Music: Enough Already"


"When my own status as a living being was in question, you fought to protect my rights, and for that I will always be grateful. The exocomps had no such advocate. If I had not acted on their behalf, they would have been destroyed. I could not allow that to happen, sir."
"Of course you couldn’t. It was the most human decision you’ve ever made."
     Data and Picard, "The Quality of Life"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult.
     Charlotte Whitton





No error is so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men.
     Lord Acton, letter to Mary Gladstone (April 24, 1881)


An error is the more dangerous in proportion to the degree of truth it contains.
     Henri Frederic Amiel, Journal Intime (1882)


Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes.
     Antisthenes, in Diogenes Laertius, Lives


A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.
     Isaac Asimov


Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all.
     Charles Babbage


If I had to live my life again, I'd make the same mistakes, only sooner.
     Tallulah Bankhead


I have made mistakes but I have never made the mistake of claiming that I have never made one.
     James Gordon Bennett


It is not enough to say: I made a mistake. You must explain how.
     Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the 
     Study of Experimental Medicine


Positive, adj. Mistaken at the top of one's voice.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


It's amazing how much research has gone into making some of the worst decisions.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


It's human to make mistakes — and some of us are much more human than others.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


The more sure you are, the more wrong you can be.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Watch out! It's quite possible that some of my best mistakes haven't yet been made.
     Ashleigh Brilliant


Why aren't you more grateful when I prove how wrong you've been?
     Ashleigh Brilliant


From a worldly point of view there is no mistake so great as that of being always right.
     Samuel Butler, Note-Books (1912)


There is something to be said for every error, but whatever may be said for it, the most important thing to be said about it is that it is erroneous.
     G. K. Chesterton


There are mistakes — and mistakes. There are true, copper-bottom mistakes like spelling the word "rabbit" with three Ms; wearing a black bra under a white shirt; or, to take a more masculine example, starting a land war in Asia.
     John Cleese


A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it, is committing a second mistake.


The cautious seldom err.


To go beyond is as wrong as to fall short.
     Confucius, Analects (6th century BC)


I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.
     Oliver Cromwell, letter to the General Assembly 
     of the Church of Scotland (August 3, 1650)


Every decision you make is a mistake.
     Edward Dahlberg


False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often endure long; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, for every one takes delight in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path toward error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.
     Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)


Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
     Albert Einstein


Looking back . . . over the long and labyrinthine path which finally led to the discovery [of the quantum theory], I am vividly reminded of Goethe's saying that men will always be making mistakes as long as they are striving after something.
     Albert Einstein


No error is harmless. "Men rest not in false apprehensions without absurd and inconsequent deductions." Some of the deductions seem inconsequential as well as inconsequent, but in their larger aspects they are not. It cannot do much harm to believe that hair turns white over night, or that birds live a happy family life, or that orientals have slanting eyes; but it can do a great deal of harm to be ignorant of physiology or zoology or anthropology, and the harm that may result from forming an opinion without evidence, or from distorting evidence to support an opinion, is incalculable.
     Bergen Evans, The Natural History of Nonsense (1945, 1958)


Theorem: There are many more wrong answers than right ones, and they are easier to find.
     Michael W. Friedlander, At The Fringes Of Science (1995)


A man's errors are what make him amiable.
     Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


"I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, think that ye may be mistaken." I should like to have that written over the portals of every church, every school, and every courthouse, and, may I say, of every legislative body in the United States. I should like to have every court begin, "I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, think that we may be mistaken."
     Learned Hand, Morals in Public Life (1951)


To make mistakes is human, but to profit by them is divine.
     Elbert Hubbard


The fellow that says, "I may be wrong, but —," does not believe there can be any such possibility.
     Kin Hubbard


Great blunders are often made, like large ropes, of a multitude of fibers.
     Victor Hugo, Les Misérables (1862)


There is the greatest practical benefit in making a few failures early in life.
     Thomas Henry [T. H.] Huxley, "On Medical Education" (1870)


Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
     Thomas Henry [T. H.] Huxley, "The Coming of 
     Age of The Origin of Species" (1880)


It is impossible for a man to be respectable enough to make a mistake respectable.
     Robert Ingersoll


Thought control is a copyright of totalitarianism, and we have no claim to it. It is not the function of our government to keep the citizen from falling in error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.
     Robert Houghwout Jackson, American 
     Communications Assn. v. Douds


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
     Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1781-1785)


It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinions to coercion. Whom will you make your inquisitors? Fallible men; men governed by bad passions, by private as well as public reasons. And why subject it to coercion? To produce uniformity. But is uniformity desirable? No more than of face and stature. Introduce the bed of Procrustes then, and as there is a danger that the large men may beat the small, make us all of a size, by lopping the former and stretching the latter.
     Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1781-1785)


And, finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself: that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them.
     Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Act for Religious Freedom (1786)


Delay is preferable to error.
     Thomas Jefferson, letter to George Washington (May 16, 1792)


To err is human, but when the eraser wears out ahead of the pencil, you're overdoing it.
     J. Jenkins


It is only those who do nothing who make no mistakes.
     Prince Pëtr Alekseevich Kropotkin


I was quite aware of the risk I was running, but I knew that the license to make mistakes becomes more limited with the passing of the years, so he who wants to take advantage of it must not wait too long. On the other hand, one must not wait too long to realize that a mistake is a mistake ...
     Primo Levi, The Periodic Table (1975)


Next to the promulgation of the truth, the best thing I can conceive that man can do is the public recantation of an error.
     Joseph Lister


“You’re so sure you’re right it doesn’t matter to you whether people talk to you at all.  I’m glad I’ve been wrong enough to keep in practice.”
     “Why would you want to keep in practice being wrong?” Call asked.  “I’d think it would be something you’d try to avoid.”
     “You can’t avoid it, you’ve got to learn to handle it,” Augustus said.  “If you only come face to face with your own mistakes once or twice in your life it’s bound to be extra painful.  I face mine every day — that way they ain’t usually much worse than a dry shave.”
     Larry McMurtry, Lonesome Dove (1985)


Nine times out of ten, in the arts as in life, there is actually no truth to be discovered; there is only error to be exposed.
     H. L. Mencken, Prejudices: Third Series (1917)


It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.
     Thomas Paine


Give me a fruitful error any time, full of seeds, bursting with its own corrections. You can keep your sterile truth for yourself.
     Vilfredo Pareto


The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.
     Edward John Phelps


A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
     Alexander Pope, Thoughts on Various Subjects (1727)


He did not publish his book until he was on his deathbed. He knew how dangerous it is to be right when the rest of the world is wrong. [Speaking of the Polish astronomer Copernicus in 1855.]
     Thomas B. Reed


They are most often wrong who cannot bear to be.
     François, Duc de La Rochefoucauld, 
     The Maxims (translated by Louis Kronenberger, 1936)


Belief in a Divine mission is one of the many forms of certainty that have afflicted the human race. I think perhaps one of the wisest things ever said was when Cromwell said to the Scotch before the battle of Dunbar: "I beseech you in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken." But the Scotch did not, and so he had to defeat them in battle. It is a pity that Cromwell never addressed the same remark to himself.
     Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950)
     "Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind" (1946)


To modern educated people, it seems obvious that matters of fact are to be ascertained by observation, not by consulting ancient authorities. But this is an entirely modern conception, which hardly existed before the seventeenth century. Aristotle maintained that women have fewer teeth than men; although he was twice married, it never occurred to him to verify this statement by examining his wives' mouths. ... He states that a man bitten by a mad dog will not go mad, but any other animal will; that the bite of the shrewmouse is dangerous to horses, especially if the mouse is pregnant; that elephants suffering from insomnia can be cured by rubbing their shoulders with salt, olive oil, and warm water; and so on and so on. Nevertheless, classical dons, who have never observed any animal except the cat and the dog, continue to praise Aristotle for his fidelity to observation.
     Bertrand Russell, Impact of Science on Society (1952)


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"


A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
     George Bernard Shaw


"I fail to understand why it always gives you pleasure to see me proven wrong."
"An emotional Earth weakness of mine."
     Spock and Kirk, "Space Seed"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


Man does not live by words alone, despite the fact that sometimes he has to eat them.
     Adlai Ewing Stevenson


Love truth, but pardon error.
     Voltaire, Sept Discours en Vers sur l'Homme (1738)


Sometimes, I have looked back at my behavior and learned not to make the same mistake twice. Other times, I have merely learned to make it again with more style.
     Marilyn vos Savant, "Ask Marilyn" (Parade, April 1, 2001)





Student of Etiquette — Asks: "If I step upon one end of a narrow bridge just at the moment that a mad bull rushes upon the other, which of us is entitled to precedence — which should give way and yield the road to the other?"
     I decline to answer — leave it to the bull to decide. I am shrouded in doubts upon the subject, but the bull's mind will probably be perfectly clear. ... If I were in a sarcastic vein, though, I might decide that it was Smith's privilege to butt the bull off the bridge — if he could.
     Mark Twain, "Answers to Correspondents" (1865)


Partiality, in the matter of rescue [from a fire], to be shows to: 1. Fiancées. 2. Persons toward whom the operator feels a tender sentiment, but has not yet declared himself. 3. Sisters. 4. Stepsisters. 5. Nieces. 6. First cousins. 7. Cripples. 8. Second cousins. 9. Invalids. 10. Young-lady relations by marriage. 11. Thirds cousins, and young-lady friends of the family. 12. The Unclassified. ...
Other material in boarding house is to be rescued in the following order: 13. Babies. 14. Children under 10 years of age. 15. Young widows. 16. Young married females. 17. Elderly married ditto. 18. Elderly widows. 19. Clergymen. 20. Boarders in general. 21. Female domestics. 22. Male ditto. 23. Landlady. 24. Landlord. 25. Firemen. 26. Furniture. 27. Mothers-in-law.
     Mark Twain, "From an Unfinished Burlesque 
     of Books on Etiquette: At A Fire" (1881)


Form of Offer of Marriage from Young Gentleman to a No. 2, during Process of Extracting Her from Boarding House on Fire, and Conveying Her out of the Same in His Arms. "Ah, I supplicate, I beseech, I implore thee, dearest [here insert given name of party only], to have compassion upon thy poor kneeling henchman [do not attempt to kneel - this is but a figure of speech] and deign to be his! Deign to engender into bonds of tenderness those bonds of chill conventionality which enfold us in their silken tie, and he will ever bless the day thou didst accept the refuge of his arms in fleeing the fiery doom which now, with crimson wing, o'ershadows us.
     Mark Twain, "From an Unfinished Burlesque 
     of Books on Etiquette: At A Fire" (1881)


Form of Tender of Rescue from Strange Young Gentleman to Strange Young Lady at a Fire. "Although through the fiat of a cruel fate, I have been debarred the gracious privilege of your acquaintance, permit me, Miss [here insert name, if known], the inestimable honor of offering you the aid of a true and loyal arm against the fiery doom which now o'ershadows you with its crimson wing. [This form to be memorized, and practiced in private.]"
     Mark Twain, "From an Unfinished Burlesque 
     of Books on Etiquette: At A Fire" (1881)


At the Funeral:

     Mark Twain, "From an Unfinished Burlesque 
     of Books on Etiquette: At A Fire" (1881)


It is a mistake that there is no bath that will cure people's manners. But drowning would help.
     Mark Twain, "Marienbad — A Health Factory" (1891)



and other Experiences in Futility


I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.
     Neil Armstrong


The word aerobics comes from two Greek words: aero, meaning "ability to," and bics, meaning "withstand tremendous boredom."
     Dave Barry, Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead (1985)


... “aerobic,” a term health experts use to describe how dull an activity is.
     Dave Barry, Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits (1988)
     “Slope Flake”


I get my exercise acting as a pallbearer to my friends who exercise.
     Chauncey Depew


The second day of a diet is always easier than the first. By the second day, you’re off it.
     Jackie Gleason


When I feel like exercising I just lie down until the feeling goes away.
     Robert M. Hutchins


I'm not into working out. My philosophy: No pain, no pain.
     Carol Leifer


We work out entirely too much. We waste time. A friend of mine runs marathons. He always talks about this "runner's high." But he has to go twenty-six miles for it. That's why I smoke and drink. I get the same feeling from a flight of stairs.
     Larry Miller


Walk till the blood appears on the cheek, but not the sweat on the brow.
     Spanish Proverb


I’ve been doing leg lifts faithfully for about fifteen years. The only thing that’s gotten thinner is the carpet where I’ve been doing the leg lifts.
     Rita Rudner


I think that's the attraction of fitness. In a world where so little goes right, at least you can repeat a motion umpteen times and see a muscle pop up where flab used to be. The problem is, you have to repeat a motion umpteen times. This is mind-numbingly boring and why you find very few geniuses in a gym.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


If morning joggers knew how tempting they looked to morning motorists, they would stay home and do situps.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


It takes six months to get into shape and two weeks to get out of shape. Once you know this you can stop being angry about other things in life and only be angry about this.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes: 
     Tales of a Revealing Nature


The need of exercise is a modern superstition, invented by people who ate too much and had nothing to think about. Athletics don't make anybody either long-lived or useful.
     George Santayana


Now the true charm of pedestrianism does not lie in the walking, or in the scenery, but in the talking. ... It is no matter whether one talks wisdom or nonsense, the case is the same; the bulk of the enjoyment lies in the wagging of the gladsome jaw and the flapping of the sympathetic ear.
     Mark Twain, A Tramp Abroad (1880)


I have never taken any exercise except sleeping and resting, and I never intend to take any. Exercise is loathsome. And it cannot be any benefit when you are tired. And I was always tired. But let another person try my way, and see whence he will come out.
     Mark Twain, "Seventieth Birthday Dinner Speech" (speech, 1905)


I get plenty of exercise — jumping to conclusions, pushing my luck and dodging deadlines.


I have to exercise early in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm doing.


The advantage of exercising every day is that you die healthier.


If it wasn't for wrestling with my conscience, I'd get no exercise at all.
     Tom Wilson





What you don't know can't hurt you — unless you're still alive.
     Alex Ayres, The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain (editor, 1987)


Enthusiasm, n. A distemper of youth, curable by small doses of repentance in connection with outward applications of experience.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Experience, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


Experience is the mother of science.
     Henry George Bohn


The surest way to learn is by doing it — but often, the lesson is: Don't do it!
     Ashleigh Brilliant


"Well," said our engineer [Victor Hatherley] ruefully as we took our seats to return once more to London, "it has been a pretty business for me! I have lost my thumb and I have lost a fifty-guinea fee, and what have I gained?"
     "Experience," said Holmes, laughing. "Indirectly it may be of value, you know; you have only to put it into words to gain the reputation of being excellent company for the remainder of your existence."
     Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (1892)
     "The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb"


None of us excels in remembering our mistakes. We keep making them over and over, like brute beasts, somewhichway in this area dumber than the lowest paramecium that, if burned, will shy away from fire for the rest of its brief life.
     Harlan Ellison, The Harlan Ellison Hornbook (1990)


The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.
     Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essays: Second Series (1844)


I do something dumb on the job, I chalk it up to experience. I screw up a perfectly good relationship, I chalk it up to experience. I make promises I can't keep and get people mad at me, I chalk it up to experience. "Experience" is the recognition when you're about to do something stupid — that you've done it before and you'll do it again.
     Jules Feiffer


The willing suspension of experience is possible, it is possible to become like a child who says 'Oh!' each time the ball bounces, although he has seen it bounce before and knows it must bounce.
     E. M. Forster, Two Cheers for Democracy (1951)
     "The Raison d'Être of Criticism in the Arts" (1947)


Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.
     Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanac


I think that to attempt to learn how to do anything out of a book, except maybe how to plane with a plank or wash dishes or build a house, is misguided. You don't learn things that are really worth learning out of a book. You learn them by keeping your eyes open and watching real people and real life. You learn from your own terrible experiences.
     Paul Fussell


When a situation is so unprecedented that no amount of knowledge or experience is adequate to master it, then the ignorant and inexperienced are more fit to deal with it that the learned and experienced. The unknown and untried give as it were a special fitness to the unfit.
     Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (1954)


Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.
     F. P. Jones


Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson after.
     Vernon Law


Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
     Barry LePatner


Everyone is perfectly willing to learn from unpleasant experience — if only the damage of the first lesson could be repaired.
     Georg Christoph Lichtenberg


The only thing experience teaches us is that experience teaches us nothing.
     André Maurois


It took me years to understand that words are often as important as experience, because words make experiences last.
     Willie Morris


We are constantly misled by the ease with which our minds fall into the ruts of one or two experiences.
     Sir William Osler


Experience is a comb which nature gives us when we are bald.
     Chinese Proverb


Do not fall into the error of the artisan who boasts of twenty years experience in his craft while in fact he has had only one year of experience — twenty times.
     Japanese Proverb


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; In practice, there is.
     Chuck Reid


I hate learning through experience. Just once I'd like to learn something because someone was nice enough to tell me it in advance.
     Rita Rudner, Naked Beneath My Clothes (1992)


As the basis for a claim — whether about UFOs, ghosts, witches, or the curative power of vitamin C — personal experience is frequently shakier than we realize.
     Theodore Schick, Jr. & Lewis Vaughn, How to Think About 
     Weird Things: Critical Thinking for a New Age


We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.
     George Bernard Shaw


One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try.
     Sophocles, Trachiniae


I always hope for the best. Experience, unfortunately, has taught me to expect the worst.
     Garak, "Favor the Bold"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


Never try to learn from an experience more than there is in it. There are some vivid and painful experiences that have little to teach us.
     D. Sutten


"No, the burned hand teaches best. After that advice about fire goes to the heart."
     Gandalf, J. R. R. Tolkien, The Two Towers (1955)


Never learn to do anything: if you don't learn, you'll always find someone else to do it for you.
     Mark Twain


The self-taught man seldom knows anything accurately, and he does not know a tenth as much as he could have known if he had worked under teachers; and besides, he brags, and is the means of fooling other thoughtless people into going and doing as he himself has done. There are those who imagine that the unlucky accidents of life — life's "experiences" — are in some way useful to us. I wish I could find out how. I never knew one of them to happen twice. They always change off and swap around and catch you on your inexperienced side.
     Mark Twain, "Taming the Bicycle" (1886)


The mere knowledge of a fact is pale; but when you come to realize your fact, it takes on color. It is all the difference between hearing of a man being stabbed to the heart, and seeing it done.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)


But don’t you know, there are some things that can beat smartness and foresight. Awkwardness and stupidity can. The best swordsman in the world doesn't need to fear the second best swordsman in the world; no, the person for him to be afraid of is some ignorant antagonist who has never had a sword in his hand before; he doesn't do the thing he ought to do, and so the expert isn't prepared for him; he does the thing he ought not to do; and often it catches the expert out and ends him on the spot.
     Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889)


... leaving further experiment of a missionary sort to other young people needing the chastening and quelling persuasions of experience, the only logic sure to convince a diseased imagination and restore it to rugged health.
     Mark Twain, The American Claimant (1892)


Training is everything. The peach was once a bitter almond; cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.
     Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson (1894)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar"


"There's lots of such things, and they educate a person, that's what Uncle Abner always said; but there are forty million lots of the other kind — the kind that don't happen the same way twice — and they ain't no real use, they ain't no more instructive than the small-pox. ... But, on the other hand, Uncle Abner said that the person that had took a bull by the tail once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn't, and said a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn't ever going to grow dim or doubtful."
     Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)


And he said that he spoke not merely from common knowledge, but from exasperating personal experience.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


... we are not afraid of dynamite until we get acquainted with it.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)


We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.
     Mark Twain, Following the Equator (1897)
     "Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar"


We live to learn; and fortunate are we when we are wise enough to profit by it.
     Mark Twain, "3,000 Years Among the Microbes" (1905)


Now let that teach you a lesson — I don't know just what it is.
     Mark Twain, "Memories" (speech, 1906)


The burnt child shuns the fire. Until next day.
     Mark Twain, More Maxims of Mark (1927)


Forsan et haec olim meminisse iuvabit.
Perhaps someday it will be pleasant to remember even this.
     Virgil, Aeneid, I, 203


Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
     Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)


Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.


Experience teaches you to recognize a mistake when you've made it again.


Learn from the mistakes of others — you can never live long enough to make them all yourself.


Is there anyone so wise as to learn by the experience of others?


How can something seem so plausible at the time and so idiotic in retrospect?
     Calvin in Bill Watterson, It's A Magical World 
("Calvin and Hobbes," 1996)


We should live and learn, but by the time we've learned, it's too late to live.
     Carolyn Wells


Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
     Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan (1892)


Experience is what happens to you while you're waiting for something else to happen to you.
     Tom Wilson


Idealism is what precedes experience; cynicism is what follows.
     David T. Wolf





Connoisseur, n. A specialist who knows everything about something and nothing about anything else.
     Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary (1911)


An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes, which can be made, in a very narrow field.
     Niels Bohr


The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. And one of the games which it is most attached is called, "Keep tomorrow dark," and which is also named (by the rustics in Shropshire, I have no doubt) "Cheat the Prophet." The players listen very carefully and respectfully to all that the clever men have to say about what is to happen in the next generation. The players then wait until all the clever men are dead, and bury them nicely. Then they go and do something else. That is all. For a race of simple tastes, however, it is great fun.
     G. K. Chesterton


Learn from science that you must doubt the experts. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts. ... The experts who are leading you may be wrong.
     Richard Feynman, "What is Science?" (speech, 
     reprinted in The Physics Teacher, 1966)


None of our men are "experts." We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert — because no one ever considers himself expert if he really knows his job. A man who knows a job sees so much more to be done than he has done, that he is always pressing forward and never gives up an instant of thought to how good and how efficient he is. Thinking always ahead, thinking always of trying to do more, brings a state of mind in which nothing is impossible. The moment one gets into the "expert" state of mind a great number of things become impossible.
     Henry Ford, My Life and Work (1922)


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


Always listen to experts. They'll tell you what can't be done and why. Then do it.
     Robert A. Heinlein


An expert is someone who knows some of the worst mistakes that can be made in his subject, and how to avoid them.
     Werner Heisenberg, in R. N. Anshen (ed.), Physics and Beyond (1971)


Any damn fool can predict the past. Military men are notorious for this, and certain writers too.
     Larry Niven, "Niven's Laws" in N-Space (1990)


Make three correct guesses consecutively and you will establish a reputation as an expert.
     Laurence Johnston Peter


A pundit is an expert on nothing but an authority on everything.
     William Safire


An expert is a person who avoids small error as he sweeps on to the grand fallacy.
     Benjamin Stolberg


Expert: someone who knows practically everything about next to nothing.
     Jerry Tucker


I confess that in 1901 I said to my brother Orville that man would not fly for fifty years. Two years later we ourselves made flights. This demonstration of my impotence as a prophet gave me such a shock that ever since I have distrusted myself and avoided all predictions.
     Wilbur Wright, speech to the Aero Club of France (Nov 5, 1908)


Experts on Business and Commerce

The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C', the idea must be feasible.
     A Yale University management professor in response to
     student Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight
     delivery service. Smith went on to found Federal Express.


Experts on Computers

640K ought to be enough for anybody.
     Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft (1981)


There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
     Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation (1977)


I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
     Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM (1943)


Experts on Engineering and Technology

Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances.
     Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer


While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.
     Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer


They will never try to steal the phonograph because it has no "commercial value."
     Thomas Edison


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


Correction: It is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum. The 'Times' regrets the error.
     New York Times editorial (July 1969)


Well informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.
     Anonymous, editorial in the Boston Post (1865)


There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.
     Albert Einstein (1932)


Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
     William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (ca. 1897)


Radio has no future.
     William Thomson, Lord Kelvin (ca. 1897)


The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.
     Ernest Rutherford


In my own time there have been inventions of this sort, transparent windows, tubes for diffusing warmth equally through all parts of a building, short-hand which has been carried to such a pitch of perfection that a writer can keep pace with the most rapid speaker. But the inventing of such things is drudgery for the lowest slaves; philosophy lies deeper.
     Lucius Annaeus Seneca


[On “talking” pictures:] Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?
     H. M. Warner, president of Warner Brothers (1927)


[W]hen the Paris Exhibition closes electric light will close with it and no more be heard of.
     Erasmus Wilson, professor at Oxford University (1878)


Experts on Medicine and Biology

The uncertain, unsettled condition of this science of Cetology is in the very vestibule attested by the fact, that in some quarters it still remains a moot point whether a whale be a fish. In his System of Nature, A. D. 1776, Linnaeus declares, 'I hereby separate the whales from the fish.' But of my own knowledge, I know that down to the year 1850, sharks and shad, alewives and herring, against Linnaeus's express edict, were still found dividing the possession of the same seas with the Leviathan. … Be it known that, waiving all argument, I take the good old fashioned ground that the whale is a fish, and call upon holy Jonah to back me. … To be short, then, a whale is a spouting fish with a horizontal tail. There you have him.
     Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or, The Whale (1851)


The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it. . . . Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient.
     Alfred Velpeau, French surgeon (1839)


Experts on Science

It is difficult to deal with an author whose mind is filled with a medium of so fickle and vibratory a nature; ... We now dismiss ... the feeble lucubrations of this author, in which we have searched without success for some traces of learning, acuteness, and ingenuity, that might compensate his evident deficiency in the powers of solid thinking.
     Henry Brougham, criticizing Thomas Young's wave theory of light


Animals, which move, have limbs and muscles. The earth does not have limbs and muscles; therefore it does not move.
     Scipio Chiaramonti, arguing against the Heliocentric system


Mathematics is inadequate to describe the universe, since mathematics is an abstraction from natural phenomena. Also, mathematics may predict things which don't exist, or are impossible in nature.
     Ludovico delle Colombe, criticizing Galileo


Every attempt to employ mathematical methods in the study of chemical questions must be considered profoundly irrational and contrary to the spirit of chemistry. . . . if mathematical analysis should ever hold a prominent place in chemistry — an aberration which is happily almost impossible — it would occasion a rapid and widespread degeneration of that science.
     Auguste Comte, Cours de philosophie positive (1830)


On the subject of stars, all investigations which are not ultimately reducible to simple visual observations are . . . necessarily denied to us. . . . We shall never be able by any means to study their chemical composition. . . . I regard any notion concerning the true mean temperature of the various stars as forever denied to us.
     Auguste Comte, 1835


People give ear to an upstart astrologer [Copernicus] who strove to show that the earth revolves not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon... Whoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system, which of all systems is of course the very best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but the sacred scripture tells us [Joshua 10:13] that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, not the earth.
     Martin Luther


The more important fundamental laws of physical science have all been discovered, and these are now so firmly established that the possibility of their ever being supplanted by new discoveries is exceedingly remote. Our future discoveries must be looked for in the sixth place of decimals.
     Albert Michelson


When astronomers tell me that a star is so far off that its light takes a thousand years to reach us, the magnitude of the lie seems to me inartistic.
     George Bernard Shaw


Just as in the microcosm there are seven ‘windows’ in the head (two nostrils, two eyes, two ears, and a mouth), so in the macrocosm God has placed two beneficent stars (Jupiter, Venus), two maleficent stars (Mars, Saturn), two luminaries (sun and moon), and one indifferent star (Mercury). The seven days of the week follow from these. Finally, since ancient times the alchemists had made each of the seven metals correspond to one of the planets; gold to the sun, silver to the moon, copper to Venus, quicksilver to Mercury, iron to Mars, tin to Jupiter, lead to Saturn.
     From these and many other similar phenomena of nature such as the seven metals, etc., which it were tedious to enumerate, we gather that the number of planets is necessarily seven. ... Besides, the Jews and other ancient nations as well as modern Europeans, have adopted the division of the week into seven days, and have named them from the seven planets; now if we increase the number of planets, this whole system falls to the ground ... Moreover, the satellites are invisible to the naked eye and therefore can have no influence on the earth, and therefore would be useless, and therefore do not exist.
     Francesco Sizzi, arguing against Galileo's discovery of four moons of Jupiter


The world was created on 22nd October, 4004 B.C. at 6 o'clock in the evening.
     James Ussher, Chronologia Sacra (1660)


Experts on Society and Culture

Since I do not foresee that atomic energy is to be a great boon for a long time, I have to say that for the present it is a menace. Perhaps it is well that is should be. It may intimidate the human race into bringing order into its international affairs, which, without the pressure of fear, it would not do.
     Albert Einstein, Atlantic Monthly (November 1945)


Perhaps my dynamite plants will put an end to war sooner than your [pacifist] congresses. On the day two army corps can annihilate each other in one second all civilized nations will recoil from war in horror.
     Alfred Nobel, at a pacifist congress in Switzerland (1892)



Exploring Strange New Worlds


Everyone is an explorer. How could you possibly live your life looking at a door and not open it?
     Robert D. Ballard


If you don't know where you're going, when you get there you'll be lost.
     Yogi Berra


You got to be careful if you don't know where you're going, because you might not get there.
     Yogi Berra


I can't say I've ever been lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.
     Daniel Boone, attributed


We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
     T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets. Little Gidding (1940), V
     [This quotation was used in a Paramount advertisement for the final
     episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “All Good Things . . .”]


What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don't believe in taking foolish chances, but nothing can be accomplished without taking any chance at all.
     Charles A. Lindbergh


I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.
     Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or, The Whale (1851)


Queequeg was a native of Kokovoko, an island far away to the West and South. It is not down in any map; true places never are.
     Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, or, The Whale (1851)


As every student of exploration knows, the prize goes not the explorer who first sets foot upon the virgin soil but to the one who gets that foot home first. If it is still attached to his leg, this is a bonus.
     Terry Pratchett, Jingo (1997)


The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
     Marcel Proust


Risk is our business. That's what this starship is all about. That's why we're aboard her.
     Captain Kirk, "Return To Tomorrow"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


The very reason for the existence of our starships is contact with other life. Although the method is beyond our comprehension, we have been offered contact.
     Captain Kirk, "The Savage Curtain"
     STAR TREK:  The Original Series


The Human Adventure is Just Beginning
     STAR TREK The Motion Picture


"Just hoping this isn't the usual way our missions will go, sir."
"Oh, no, Number One. I'm sure most will be much more interesting. Let's see what's out there . . . Engage!"
     Riker and Picard, "Encounter At Farpoint"
     STAR TREK:  The Next Generation


It is the unknown that defines our existence. We are constantly searching — not just for answers to our questions, but for new questions. We are explorers. We explore our lives, day by day, and we explore the galaxy, trying to expand the boundaries of our knowledge. And that is why I am here. Not to conquer you with weapons or with ideas, but to coexist, and to learn.
     Commander Sisko to the Prophets, "Emissary"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


"Who knows what they could teach us? A few years from now, mankind could have rocket ships of our own. We could travel the galaxy, exploring new worlds and new civilizations."
"Always the dreamer."
     Nurse Garland and the Professor, "Little Green Men"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


QUARK: Thanks for your help. You may be humans, but you're OK by me.
NURSE GARLAND: You don't have to thank us. I only hope that one day mankind will travel to the stars and take its place in a vast alliance of planets.
ROM: Federation of planets.
QUARK: Don't pay any attention to him; he's an idiot. Trust me, the galaxy's a pretty rough place. You people are better off staying right here on Earth. ...
     "Little Green Men"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


"All right, we'll make a quick survey. But if all we detect is some fungus, we're not beaming down."
"What if it's a smart fungus?"
     Sisko and Dax, "Children of Time"
     STAR TREK:  Deep Space Nine


"These people are natural-born explorers, Neelix."
"These people are natural-born idiots, if you ask me. Thy don't appreciate what they have here. This ship is the match of any vessel within a hundred light-years, and what do they do with it? 'Uh, well, let's see if we can find some space anomaly today that might rip it apart!'"
     Kes and Neelix, "The Cloud"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager


"When the risks outweigh the potential gains, exploration is illogical."
"We can't predict what we might find here, Seven. One must allow for the unexpected discovery."
     Seven and Tuvok, "One Small Step"
     STAR TREK:  Voyager


Imagine it: thousands of inhabited planets at our fingertips. And we'll be able to explore those strange new worlds, and seek out new life and new civilizations. This engine will let us go boldly where no man has gone before.
     Zephram Cochrane, recording from the dedication 
     of the Warp 5 research facility, "Broken Bow"


Where's the exploration in goin' places people have already been?
     Tucker, "The Andorian Incident"


Starfleet could've sent a probe out here to make maps and take pictures, but they didn't. They sent us, so that we could explore with our own senses.
     Captain Archer, "Civilization"


     "Wow, it really snowed last night! Isn't it wonderful?"
     "Everything familiar has disappeared! The world looks brand-new!"
     "A new year . . . a fresh, clean start!"
     "It's like having a big white sheet of paper to draw on!"
     "A day full of possibilities! It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy . . . let's go exploring!"
          Calvin and Hobbes in Bill Watterson, It's A Magical World 
("Calvin and Hobbes," last strip, 1996)