Over the years I’ve collected quotes from people who are.I always like quotes, because they are atoms of knowledge, quick and dirty ways to understand the world we only have one life to explore. To some extent, they axioms of life in that they are true and never require an explanation (otherwise they wouldn’t be quotations.)Here’s a bunch of quotes that I found particularly interesting, starting with my absolute favorite quote comes from the great Paul Valery:
The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us. – Paul Valery
On research — trial and error
Basic research is like shooting an arrow into the air and, where it lands, painting a target.
-Homer Burton Adkins
– Friedrich Nietzsche
Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.
– Thomas A. EdisonMany of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.
– Thomas EdisonScience, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth
– Jules VerneI have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
– Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931)An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.
– Niels BohrYou must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.
– Sam LevensonGood judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement.
– Jim HorningA couple of months in the laboratory can frequently save a couple of hours in the library.
– Frank WestheimerThe average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another.
– J. Frank DobieNothing can be so amusingly arrogant as a young man who has just discovered an old idea and thinks it is his own.
– Sidney J. HarrisOne doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
– Andre GideIf you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.
– Yogi BerraWhatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
On logic and reason
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
– Francis Scott FitzgeraldSaying what we think gives us a wider conversational range than saying what we know.
– Cullen HightowerAnything worth doing, is worth doing right
– Hunter S ThompsonAnything not worth doing is worth not doing well. Think about it.
– Elias SchwartzThe first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool.
– Richard FeynmanIrrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.
– Thomas H. HuxleyEssentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful
– George BoxIf you could reason with religious people, there would be no religious people
– David MitchellThe worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank.
– Dante Gabriel RossettiNothing has an uglier look to us than reason, when it is not on our side.
– HalifaxI like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.
— Dr. Seuss
There are two ways to slide easily through life; to believe everything or to doubt everything. Both ways save us from thinking.
– Alfred Korzybski
– Frank HerbertI have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.
– Poul AndersonAsking the right questions is more important than answering them
– CantorAsking the right questions is as important as answering them
– Benoit MandelbrotThe greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.
– Bertrand RussellThe skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.
– Edwin SchlossbergNever confuse movement with action.
– Ernest HemingwayThe plural of anecdotes is not data
– Ben GoldacreEverything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise.
– Bertrand RussellScience is facts; just as houses are made of stones, so is science made of facts; but a pile of stones is not a house and a collection of facts is not necessarily science.
– Henri PoincareAs far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
– Albert EinsteinThere is nobody so irritating as somebody with less intelligence and more sense than we have.
– Don Herold
On human relations
Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.
– Bertrand RussellNothing succeeds like the appearance of success.
– Christopher LaschIt pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.
– Isaac AsimovNothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.
– Georg Christoph LichtenbergA sense of duty is useful in work, but offensive in personal relations. People wish to be liked, not be endured with patient resignation.
– Bertrand RussellCharm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question.
-Albert CamusCharm is the quality in others that makes us more satisfied with ourselves.
– Henri-Frédéric AmielIt is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
– Harry S TrumanWhenever two people meet, there are really six people present. There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other person sees him, and each man as he really is.
– William JamesA compromise is the art of dividing a cake in such a way that everyone believes he has the biggest piece.
– Ludwig ErhardThe art of medicine consists in amusing the patient while nature cures the disease.
I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.
– George Burns
– Isaac AsimovToo many people are thinking of security instead of opportunity. They seem more afraid of life than death.
– James F. ByrnesThe world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to the idealised past.
– Robertson DaviesAlmost everything that distinguishes the modern world from earlier centuries is attributable to science.
– Betrand RussellTo do just the opposite is also a form of imitation.
– Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Eccentricity is not, as dull people would have us believe, a form of madness. It is often a kind of innocent pride, and the man of genius and the aristocrat are frequently regarded as eccentrics because genius and aristocrat are entirely unafraid of and uninfluenced by the opinions and vagaries of the crowd.
– Edith Sitwell
– Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970)The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
– George Bernard ShawIt is not worth an intelligent man’s time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that.
– G. H. HardyWhen a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.
– Jonathan SwiftI’ll be more enthusiastic about encouraging thinking outside the box when there’s evidence of any thinking going on inside it.
– Terry PratchettThe visionary lies to himself, the liar only to others.
– Friedrich NietzscheThe follies which a man regrets most, in his life, are those which he didn’t commit when he had the opportunity.
– Helen RowlandIt is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought.
– John Kenneth GalbraithMost people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
– Oscar WildeNobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
– Albert CamusThere’s no secret about success. Did you ever know a successful man who didn’t tell you about it?
– Kin HubbardMost people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
– Oscar WildeIt is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.
Progress is made by lazy men looking for easier ways to do things.
– Robert A. Heinlein
– Arthur KoestlerEach problem that I solved became a rule which served afterwards to solve other problems.
– Rene DescartesAnother flaw in the human character is that everybody wants to build and nobody wants to do maintenance.
– Kurt VonnegutThe important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.
– George EliotTalent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
– Arthur SchopenhauerEducation’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one.
– Malcolm ForbesPerfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The only reason some people get lost in thought is because it’s unfamiliar territory.
– Paul Fix
– Victor HugoThe time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
– Bertrand RussellDoing nothing is very hard to do … you never know when you’re finished.
– Leslie Nielsen
I think that one possible definition of our modern culture is that it is one in which nine-tenths of our intellectuals can’t read any poetry.
– Randall Jarrell
– Aimé CésaireMy life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?
– Charles M. SchulzPeople say that what we are seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think this is what we’re really seeking. I think what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.
– Joseph Campbell (The power of myth)When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
– Eric HofferI have discovered that all human evil comes from this, man’s being unable to sit still in a room.
– Blaise PascalThere are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.
– Franz KafkaLe vice fondamental, celui de la paresse deguisee en integrite.
– Hank HarrissonAn idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
– H. L. MenckenIt has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
– Abraham LincolnThe world only goes round by misunderstanding.
– Charles BaudelaireThe most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.
– H. P. Lovecraft