Home > Quotes used in The Millenium Project - 251-
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Not to be absolutely certain is, I think, one of the essential things in rationality.
So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence.
Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind.
The good life is one inspired by love and guided by knowledge.
It is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatsoever for supposing it is true.
Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
I should wish to see a world in which education aimed at mental freedom rather than imprisoning the minds of the young in rigid armor of dogma calculated to protect them through life against the shafts of impartial evidence.
Fear is the main source of superstition & one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is beginning of wisdom.
The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
Almost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attibutable to science.
One of the most painful circumstances of recent advances in science is that each one makes us know less than we thought we did
In the final tolling it often turns out that the facts are more comforting than the fantasy.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
The hard but just rule is that if the ideas don't work, you must throw them away. Don't waste any neurons on what doesn't work. Devote those neurons to new ideas that better explain the data. Valid criticism is doing you a favor.
But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
Who is more humble? The scientist who looks at the universe with an open mind and accepts whatever the universe has to teach us, or somebody who says "Everything in this book must be considered the literal truth and never mind the fallibility of all the human beings involved in the writing of this book."?
Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep insights can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable.
We all have a thirst for wonder. It's a deeply human quality. Science and religion are both bound up with it. What I'm saying is, you don't have to make stories up, you don't have to exaggerate. There's wonder and awe enough in the real world. Nature's a lot better at inventing wonders than we are.
The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true.
People are not stupid. They believe things for reasons. The last way for skeptics to get the attention of bright, curious, intelligent people is to belittle or condescend or to show arrogance toward their beliefs.
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth.
I maintain there is much more wonder in science than in pseudoscience. And in addition, to whatever measure this term has any meaning, science has the additional virtue, and it is not an inconsiderable one, of being true.
Religions are the great fairy tales of conscience.
My atheism, like that of Spinoza, is true piety towards the universe and denies only gods fashioned by men in their own image, to be servants of their human interests.
Against stupidity the very gods themselves contend in vain.
Books are like a mirror. If an ass looks in, you can't expect an angel to look out.
The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice
There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
Education is when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get if you don't.
Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.
The orthodox doctor treats what you have, and the alternative practitioner says you have what she treats.
Those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw
No man ever believes that the Bible means what IT says; he is always convinced that it says what HE means.
George Bernard Shaw
The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.
George Bernard Shaw
It is vain philosophy that supposes more causes than are exactly adequate to explain the phenomena of things.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Design must be proved before a designer can be inferred.
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Humans are pattern-seeking story-telling animals, and we are quite adept at telling stories about patterns, whether they exist or not.
Believe me, the library is the temple of God. Education is the most sacred religion of all.
A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
Paul Simon (in "The Boxer")
It is hard to get a man to understand something, if his living depends on him not understanding it.
I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it.
Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.
I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief.
Skepticism is the father of freedom. It is like the pry that holds open the door for truth to slip in.
Science is organized knowledge.
Anyone who seeks for the true causes of miracles, and strives to understand natural phenomena as an intelligent being, and not to gaze at them like a fool, is set down and denounced as an impious heretic by those, whom the masses adore as the interpreters of nature and the gods. Such persons know that, with the removal of ignorance, the wonder which forms their only available means for proving and preserving their authority would vanish also.
Benedict da Spinoza
The prayers of the millions. How they must fight and destroy each other on the way to the throne of God.