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Meditation 484
Quotations XXXVIII

"I hate quotations, tell me what you know." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

But as some people do like quotations and think they can be useful in succinctly communicating an opinion, we will publish a selection occasionally, mostly but not entirely relevant to agnosticism, rationalism, and free thought. This is the thirty-eighth in an apparently unending series. Quotations are now indexed by name and by opening words to assist anyone trying to locate a specific one.

  1. From men motivated by moral certitude, history teaches, no lasting good ever comes. Joseph Heller

  2. It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. Carl Sagan

  3. The cross everywhere is a dagger in the heart of liberty. Lemuel K Washburn

  4. There is nothing so absurd that it cannot be believed as truth if repeated often enough. William James

  5. Our predicament is not the difficulty of attaining happiness, but the difficult of avoiding the misery to which the pursuit of happiness exposes us. Michael Oakeshott

  6. Co-operation, like other difficult things, can be learned only by practice: and to be capable of it in great things, a people must be gradually trained to it in small. Now the whole course of advancing civilization is a series of such training. John Stuart Mill

  7. Age doesn't always bring wisdom, but it certainly makes it easier to fake.
    Matthew McLachlan

  8. It is not altogether true that persuasion is one thing and force is another. Many forms of persuasion, even many of which everybody approves, are really a kind of force. Consider what we do to our children. We do not say to them: Some people think the earth is round, and others think it flat; when you grow up, you can, if you like, examine the evidence and form your own conclusion. Instead of this we say: The earth is round. By the time our children are old enough to examine the evidence, our propaganda has closed their minds, and the most persuasive arguments of the Flat Earth Society make no impression. The same applies to the moral precepts that we consider really important, such as don't pick your nose or don't eat peas with a knife., There may, for ought I know, be admirable reasons for eating peas with a knife, but the hypnotic effect of early persuasion has made me completely incapable of appreciating them. Bertrand Russell

  9. History has shown us that we have good people who do good things, and we have evil people who do evil things, but to get a good person to do evil things takes religion.
    Tony Matthews

  10. We all do no end of feeling and we mistake it for thinking. And out of it we get an aggregation which we consider a boon. Its name is public opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God. Mark Twain

  11. Orgel's Second Rule: Evolution is cleverer than you are. Francis Crick

  12. The Creator, if He exists, has an inordinate fondness for beetles. JBS Haldane

  13. As 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 Einstein

  14. For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled. Richard P. Feynman

  15. He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever. Chinese Proverb

  16. There lives more faith in honest doubt, believe me, than in half the creeds.Alfred Tennyson

  17. Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought. Albert Szent-Gyoergi

  18. The world is continuous flux and is impermanent. Buddha

  19. Man's greatest asset is the unsettled mind. Isaac Asimov

  20. A cult is a religion with no political power. Thomas Jefferson