MAXIMS, Quotations, Proverbs, and Epigrams  (

The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are. (Marcus Aurelius)

The narcisist lives in a state of perpetual rage because they can't compel others to take themselves at their own valuation (JK Rowling  2/7/24, paraphrased)

George Orwell observed in 1945 that one of the marks of anti-Semitism  is "an ability to believe stories that could not possibly be true."

Thou have accomplished everything I have done [Isiah 26:12]

God ... has afforded us only the twilight of probability; suitable, I presume to the state of mediocrity and probationership he has been please to place us in here... (John Locke 1690)

Le grand docteur sophiste (Illustration mocking causistry, 1886)

Dans le doute abstiens-toi (When in doubt, leave it out. If you are unsure what to do, it is best to do nothing at all.) [Proverb]

The best lack all conviction, while the worst; Are full of passionate intensity. (Yeats, The Second Coming)

An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody will see it. (Mahatma Gandhi)

Evil is everywhere waiting around the corner, advocating for itself as a moral convenience that will make you a better person. (Shelby Steele)

In the elder days of art
Builders wrought with greatest care
Each minute and unseen part,
For the Gods are everywhere.

Be not so stern, O moralist (jumbled quotation of a poem by Afansy Fet (1820 - 1892) found in Anna Karenena Book 4 Ch 7)

When we run over libraries persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? (David Hume in Of the Academical or Sceptical  Philosophy)

If you have always believed that everyone should play by the same rules and be judged by the same standards, that would have gotten you labeled a radical 60 years ago, a liberal 30 years ago and a racist today. (Thomas Sowell)

To thrive and live well, each human soul must appoint a wise captain for itself. (Ship of Fools metaphor based on Book Six of Plato's Republic)

The man who wishes his work to stand must make sure of its foundations. He cannot afford to rest satisfied, as too often the politician and social worker do, with wild and ill-informed generations where more exact knowledge is possible (D. Caradog Jones, A First Course in Statistics, G. Bell, 1921, p. v)

Projections change the world into the replica of one's own unknown face. (C.G. Jung)

Stupid people can create problems, but it often takes brilliant people to create a real catastrophe. (Thomas Sowell)

Are You Sure? Truth, Certainty and Politics [video link]

Let every man judge by himself, by what he has himself read, not by what others tell him. (Albert Einstein, 1931, On Academic Freedom)

Three questions (1) Compared to what? (2) At what cost? (3) What is the evidence? (Sowell)

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts. (Bertrand Russell)

Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one. (Voltaire)

Their faith was boundless, and their resistance to disconfirmation sublime. (Leon Festinger, When Prophecy Fails, 1956)

The scientific enterprise is embedded in the broader Judeo-Christian narrative.

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one. (Charles Mackay)

Be wise as serpents but innocent as doves.  (Mathew 10:16)

Hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue. (La Rochefoucauld)

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. (Sun Tzu, The Art of War)

There may be pleasure in the memory; of even these events one day (Virgil, Aeneid I:203)

When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear. (Thomas Sowell)

Better to be alone than poorly accompanied. (Rules of Civility and Decent Behaviour, George Washington)

You can put those arguments on the head of a pin and still have room for angels to dance. (Anon)

Be regular at your work, keep a journal, remember that life is short, study Plato and Seneca, love your wife, and disregard the world's opinions. (Erasmus writing to Peter Gilles)

There are always going to be people who are happy to be factually inaccurate if it will make them socially divisive. (David Brooks, 3/3/22)

People cannot be knowledgeable about everything, but they can be knowledgeable about the extent of their own ignorance. (Thomas Sowell)

Don't you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible because there will be no words in which to express it. (Syme to Winston, characters in Orwell's 1984)

Bellum omnium contra omnes. (See  Hobbs, Leviathan, 1651. According to Hobbs, the main function of a strong central government is to otherwise prevent the inevitable "
war of all against all")

The meaning of "reasonably probabile" has changed over time from its medieval sense of opinion warrented by authority, to a degree of assent proportional to the evidence at hand (Locke 1690), to the empirical analysis of hazards (e.g., Jakob Bernoulli 1713, Leibniz 1705), to current and often absurd over-generalizations about lived experience. (Original)

Confidence is what you have before you understand the problem. (Woody Allen)

The university is the place where young people should be challenged every day, where everything they know should be put into question, so that they can think and learn and grow up. And the idea that they should be protected from ideas that they might not like is the opposite of what a university should be. (Salman Rushdie, 2015)

Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency? (Joseph Welch)

I will not discuss this further with you. . . . If there is a God in heaven, it will do neither you nor your cause any good. (Joseph Welch)

Stigler's law - no scientific discovery is named after its original discoverer.

"...the argument that it makes students unsafe is risible" (Robert P. George, NYT 10/20/21)

Dunning-Kruger effect - a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their competence

Contrary to popular belief, the brain is not designed for thinking. (Daniel Willingham, 2012).

Thinking is difficult, so people would rather jump to conclusions than think something out. (anon)

I am firm, you are stubborn, they are pig-headed. (Example of a Russell conjugation)

They do not see that any attack on intellectual liberty, and on the concept of objective truth, threatens in the long run every department of thought. (George Orwell, The Prevention of Literature)

Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers-over all wrongs. (Proverbs 10:2)

A theory that explains everything explains nothing. (Karl Popper)

Cargo cult science (Feynmann 1974)

Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to the passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself. (Zosima in the novel The Brothers Karamazov)

People close their eyes on encroachments committed by that party to which they are attached in the delusive hope that power in such hands will always be wielded against their adversaries and never against themselves. (Chief Justice John Marshall, paraphrased)

Bennett's replacement at the NYT wasted no time in telling colleagues that snitch culture would be institutionalized under her watch. (Andrew Sullivan)

The anti-racism movement is now more akin to a performative religion, presenting garment-rending adherents with concepts analogous to original sin (whiteness) and excommunication (cancelation). America and its white inhabitants are presented as having permanently cursed souls, a defect that can be addressed only through elaborate rites of penance. (Glenn Lourey June 7, 2020)

The problem isn't that Johnny can't read. The problem isn't even that Johnny can't think. The problem is that Johnny doesn't know what thinking is; he confuses it with feeling. (Thomas Sowell)

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (George Santayana)

Use your common sense and avoid the rhetoric of leaders. (Based on the Socratic method)

Don't look back. Something may be gaining on you. (Satchel Paige)

Let's do it the dumbest way possible because it is easier for you. (Scott Adams)

[The human mind] has a great propensity to spread itself on external objects [and mistake its own activities for features of reality] (David Hume)

It is pleasanter to be thrilled than to be depressed, and not merely pleasanter but better for all one's activities. (Frank Ramsey)

In Nature's infinite book of secrecy, a little we can read. (the soothsayer in Antony and Cleopatra)

Building things of value is hard and takes time, while destroying them is easy and often accomplished in a flash. (Sir Roger Scruton)

... a highly sensationalistic, reductionistic, and tendentious way with the cumulative result resemblining agitprop (Damon Linker)

To believe that words are meaningless is to give up on the truth.  (Jill Lapore 10/21/19)

...displaced social workers...a rabblement of lemmings (Harold Bloom)

...[do] not make politics as the crow flies. (Michael Oakeshott) 

The trick to writing is accepting that you're not a genius. (Ali Wong)

He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. (John Stewart Mills)

It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future. (Danish Proverb)

At some point, a difference in degree becomes a difference in kind. (Anon)

Socratic maxims:
    Wisdom begins in wonder.
    Better to do a little well than a great deal badly.
    Know thyself.
    We are what we repeatedly do. 
    Excellence is a habit.
    Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.
    It is the greatest good for an individual to discuss virtue every day...for the unexamined life is not worth living.
    I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.

Be quick, but don't hurry -- John Wooden  John Wooden's Pyramid of Success

Are the accusers always holy now? (The character John Proctor in The Crucible)

We do not need flawless evidence to take action. (Greenland 1991)

The faintest of all human passions is the love of truth. (A. E. Houseman)

I have no faith in anything short of actual measurement and the rule of three. (Charles Darwin)

Believe half of what you see and nothing of what you hear. (Old adage).

...there is no folly of the beasts of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men. (from "Moby Dick")

How's that working for you? (Dr. Phil)

Policy based solely on flawed research findings has a long history (Atkins in Pollack 2006)

A small thing often makes a greater revelation than battles where thousands die. (Plutarch)

If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him. (Zen koan)

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. (Daniel Moynihan) 

Advocates are often the most biased, least informed, and most certain in their ignorance. (Robert Trivers, The Folly of Fools)

We dance around in a ring and suppose, but the Secret sits in the middle and knows. (Robert Frost)

If you do get through the hardships and rise above them and end up in a different place--if there is a transformation--that's a hero's journey.  You don't want the anti-hero's journey. (Marc Maron, episode 936)

While working on a chicken farm in upstate NY (circa 1970), I spotted this cartoon above the kitchen sink. It changed my life. 

Science earns its reputation for objectivity by treating the perils of subjectivity with the greatest respect. (K. C. Cole via Berger & Berry 1988) 

The relativists' stance is extremely condescending: it treats a complex society as a monolith. (Alan Sokal Sokal's explanation)  

[Virchow's quote] medicine is a social science, and politics nothing but medicine at a larger scale" provides no clues about what he meant when he wrote it. (Morabia 2009).

Push not off from that isle, thou canst never return! (Moby Dick, Chapter 58)

What used to be called judgement is now called prejudice, and what used to be called prejudice is now called the null hypothesis. ... [This] is dangerous nonsense (dressed up as 'the scientific method'), and will cause much trouble before it is widely appreciated as such. (A.W.F. Edwards, Likelihood,  Cambridge University Press, 1972, p. 180)

There is no shame in not knowing. The problem arises when irrational thought and attendant behavior fill the vacuum left by ignorance. (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

Good data analysis rarely follows the formal paradigm of hypothesis testing . . .  Hypotheses often do not precede the data. (Velleman & Wilkinson, 1993)

Sort yourself out Bucko. (Jordan Peterson)

The latter seems to me to be nearly valueless in itself. (William Sealy Gosset speaking of significance testing, in a letter to Egon Pearson, May 11, 1926--reprinted in  Pearson 1939)

Just as a group of lions is called a pride of lions, so any group of statisticians physically gathered together should be called  "an argument of statisticians" (John W. Tukey. J Am Stat Assoc 1960;52:80-91.)

Tyranny is the deliberate removal of nuance. (Albert Maysles)

The days of hyper-moral sons of national-socialist fathers are coming to an end. (Peter Sloterdijk)

Everyone has an Antarctic.  (Thomas Pynchon, referring to placse where people seek to find answers about themselves)

[w]hen a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure -- Goodhart's law (Solari 2017)

The sun rises on the evil and the good, and it rains on the just and the unjust.  (paraphrasing Mathew 5:45)

There's not a black America and white Ameria and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America (Obama, 2004)

There's no reasoning with a reptile. (Source unknown)

But when a man suspects any wrong, it sometimes happens that if he be already involved in the matter, he insensibly strives to cover up his suspiciouns even from himself. (Herman Melville in Moby Dick)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. (Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride)

..[humans are] an organism equipped with an affective and hormonal system not much different from that of [a lab] rat (Danny  Kahneman)

The theft of time is a crime like any other. (Nathan Englander, NY Times 8/16/17)

You can't just go by the numbers. (Bob Bennett, NY Times 8/24/17) 

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

Think Yiddish, write British. (Rosnow & Rosenthal 1989) 

There is a certain type of mind � that is attracted to radical doctrines. The more opposed it is to common sense, the more that proves its truth. (New Yorker, July 10 & 17, 2017, p. 86).

Freudian defense mechanisms: denial, repression, regression, displacement, projection, reaction formation, intellectualization,  rationalization, sublimation. 

Lull to repose the bitter force of your black wave of anger. (Athena in  Aeschylus' Eumenides)

The exposure and castigation of error does not propel science forward, though it may clear a number of obstacles from its path. (Medawar 1969)

The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts. (John Locke)

Love is the master-key that opens the gates of happiness, of hatred, of jealousy, and, most easily of all, the gate of fear. How terrible is the one fact of beauty!" (Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.)

If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can't it get us out? (Will Rogers)

I have not winced nor cried aloud. 
Under the bludgeonings of chance 
My head is bloody, but unbowed
I am the master of my fate:  
I am the captain of my soul.
(Invictus by William Ernest)

Men may construe things after their fashion / clean from the purpose of the things themselves.  (Cicero / Shakespeare)

Men at some time are masters of their fates.  (Cassius / Shakespeare)

I'm never going to do social media [because] it makes it seem like every one of these people's opinions is important (Charles Barkley)

There is no complete and generally accepted methodology for causal inference from observational data. (Greenland 2000)

The squirming facts exceed the squamous mind.  (Wallace Stevens)

I used to be offended, but now I try to be amused  (Elvis Costello)

We face danger whenever information growth outpaces our understanding of how to process it.  (Nat Silver)

The precision that computers are capable of is no substitute for predictive accuracy. (Nat Silver)

Murphy's Laws:
Nothing is as simple as it seems.  
Everything takes longer than you think. 
If anything can go wrong, it eventually will.

Like many other incorrect beliefs, it satisfies a pressing societal need. (Greenland & Robins, Jurimetrics, Spring 2000, p. 333)

The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him. (Leo Tolstoy)

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.  (from the movie The Big Short; falsely attributed to Mark Twain)

Truth is like poetry / And most people fucking hate poetry (from the movie The Big Short)

Suffering is caused by behavioral patterns of one's own cravings. (Buddhist tenent of dharma) 

Primum non nocere. (First, do no harm.)

The Illusion of Probabilistic Proof by Contradiction: If a person is an American, then he is probably not a member of Congress. / This person is a member of Congress. / Therefore, he is probably not an American. (Cohen 1994)

This is the excellent foppery of the world that when we are sick in fortune--often the surfeit of our own behavior--we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars  (King Lear. Act 1, Scene 2).   

Much that passes as idealism is [the] disguised love of power  (Bertrand Russell)

I don't tolerate fools, and they don't tolerate me.  (Maggie Smith)

Narcissism is the bacterium infecting all bad writing.  (Mary Karr)

Truthiness (definition):  The idea that it was more important for a thing to feel true than to actually be true.  (Stephen Colbert)

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decided to be.  (Emerson)

Probability theory is nothing but common sense reduced to calculation.  (Laplace)

The scarcest resource of the 21st century is human attention.  (Les Hinton)

Epidemiology has never been a field for amateurs.  (Hugh Tilson, 1989)

It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it. (Upton Sinclair)

He who speaks the truth must have one foot in the stirrup.  (American proverb)

Wisdom begins with an awareness of our own ignorance.   (Socrates)

The future is already here--it's just not very evenly distributed.  (William Gibson)

The limbic system is alive and well.  (Keegan-Michael Key)

The whole purpose of life is to see how much you can get your teeth kicked in and see if you can keep going.  (Melissa Etheridge

Sociologists love subjects who tell truth to mainstream power.  / [However,] they grow uncomfortable when these subjects tell mainstream truths to sociologists.  (Orlando Patterson)

The best lies are built on truth, and contain both fear and hope. (unknown source)

I've been out in the fields helping the sprouts grow explained the farmer,  whereupon his worried sons rushed out to see a bunch of shriveled sprouts that he�d yanked to death. (Mencius parable, A Meditation on the Art of Not Trying)

Human beings were put on earth to experience the beauty of the ordinary.  (Rainer Maria Rilke)

They call it the resilience of the duped.  (James Randi)

Be so strong that nothing can disturb the peace of your mind.  (Grand Master Carlos Gracie Sr.

The soft bigotry of low expectations. (Michael Gerson)

Every moment is a new moment to find yourself on a new path.  (Anon)

There are some times you get into a situation that is so awful, that you've made some many mistakes, that is becomes very difficult for truth to rescue you. You've already warped your charter to such a decgree that you are off the radar, nothing short of a miracle will save you.  (Jordan B. Pederson)

Truth reduces complexity. Deceptions grow,  like Hydras. (Jordan B. Pederson, "Religion, Myth, Science, Truth" lecture)

Writing is good, thinking is better.  (Herman Hess in Siddhartha)

Cleverness is good, patience is better.  (Herman Hess in Siddhartha)

Success is not final, failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts.  (Winston Churchill)

Sanity is not statistical.  (Winston Smith, 1984)

Campbell's Law:  The greater the value placed on a quantitative measure of a complex social phenomenon, the more likely it is that the people using it and the process it measures will be corrupted. (The New Yorker, July 21, 2014, p. 63).

Policy makers use mathematics to intimidate and preempt debate.  (John Ewing).

It is what we fear that happens to us.  (Oscar Wilde)

Isn't it the case that wildly vitriolic reviews of hate usually have their waterlogged roots in personal rebuff--now and forever?  (Morrissey)

Busyness has acquired social status. . . Keeping up with the Joneses now means trying to out-schedule them.  (The New Yorker, May 26, 2014, p. 70).

That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.  (Christopher Hitchens) 

No catalogue of techniques can convey a willingness to look for what can be seen, whether or not anticipated.  (John Tukey)

The combination of some data and an aching desire for an answer does not ensure that a reasonable answer can be extracted from a given body of data. (John Tukey)

. . . writers and journalists and artists were being accused of blasphemy, heresy, apostasy, and their modern-day associates insult and offense. (Salman Rushdie)

Deconstruction started to run into sand when it got used to interpret texts in conformance with the political views of the interpreter, a type of self-fulfilling prophecy that afflicts many schools of criticism. (Louis Menand)

Deconstructionism is not a train you can get off of at the most convenient station. (Louis Menand)  

Pop postmodernist cliches have about as much relation to De Man as social Darwinism has to Darwin. (Menand)

Hierba mala nunca muere.  (Old Spanish saying meaning "weeds never die.")

It is disregard of intellect that has brought our school system to its present ridiculous paralysis. (Jacque Barzun)

In matters of science the authority of thousands is not worth the humble reasoning of one single person. (Galileo)

Rigidity is always the opposite of the search for truth. (Nadya Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot

Pharmaceutical companies are very skilled at selling stories.

No fear, no envy, no meanness. (Liam Clancy)

Hurry to lose, slow down to win. (Old baseball saying.)

Long on PR, but short on substance. 


The way to get over the hump is to build yourself up, not bring yourself down. 

Repetition is insistence. (Gertrude Stein)

There is something to be said for doing one thing right. (Treme, Season 3, Episode 9)

John Wooden's Pyramid of Success 

The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win. (Anon)

The captains of global industry will soon decide that the old curriculum, founded on the traditional "three Rs," has little relation to the emerging needs of 21st-century business. Reading and 'riting take too much time, and 'rithmetic is much better done by machines. As for history, literature, and the classical disciplines of art and music, these subjects have little value as mass entertainment and therefore no business in education. Thus, the three Rs will in time be replaced by the "three Ms": Multi-Tasking, Materialistics, and Mind Management.  (Edward Miller, 1997)

No written word, no spoken plea, Can teach our youth what they should be, Nor all the books on all the shelves. It's what the teachers are themselves. (John Wooden's favorite poems; author unknown.)

You don't have to be Freud to know that Hitler thought of himself as a wonderful guy. (Vince Gilligan)  

Far better an approximate answer to the right question, which is often vague, than an exact answer to the wrong question, which can always be made precise. (John Tukey 1962)

People want consistency. Make sure your words match your actions. (Herm Edwards)

He was hardly neutral, but his first allegiance was to truth. (The New Yorker, June 3, 2013, page 71)

I do not think it's safe to be conservative or even moderate on [the] university campus. Too many faculty espouse their personal political views as gospel in classrooms where their views have no relevance. (Anonymous professor)

Have you no sense of decency, sir? (Joseph N. Welch, Chief Investigator of the McCarthyism hearings)

You define what is important to you by the way you spend your time. (Ben Afflect)

If you get on a soapbox with a dictator you've already lost. Your best approach is ridicule. (Mel Brooks)

Intolerance: 1, 234, 5, 6,

There is no confusion like the confusion of a simple mind.  (F Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby)

The degradation of education, especially higher education, started when the academics relinquished the reigns of academia to the administrators and business people.

To our natural and human reason I say that these terms largesmallimmenseminute, etc. are not absolute but relative; the same thing in comparison with various others may be called at one time immense and at another imperceptible. (Galileo)

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become...
habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character.
And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny!
What we think we become.  
(Frank Outlaw; this quote has also be attributed to Margaret Thatcher, probably falsely)

I'm not as good as I thought I was, but I'm better than I've ever been. (Craig Ferguson

The worst thing in life is coming to believe your own propaganda. (Peter Bergen, May 1, 2012)

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2   

..the field has become increasingly politicized, and the disorders remained a black box . . . (The New Yorker, Jan 14,  2013, page 43)

Remember, never take no cut-offs, and hurry along as fast as you can. (Virginia Reed, surviving member of the Donner Party)

The decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes. (George Orwell, Politics and the English Language)

The Basic Laws of  Human Stupidity (Carlo M. Cipolla)

Be mindful of your sources. 

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. (Thomas Mann)

They demanded that he apologize for their ignorance. (Tony Snow)

The right thing to do is often hard but seldom surprising. (Camus)

One must imagine Sisyphus happy. (Camus)

It's called politics. It's one of the scrubbiest games in town. (Keith Richards)

Statistics are like a bikini. What they present is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital. (Aaron Levenstein)

Blessed be science which has armed man with knowledge and resolution to meet these forms of human distress. (Charles Sumner)

Pseudo-precision (definition): a spurious appearance of precision, as for example, when an inaccurate figure is given too very many decimal places; the reliance on precision where it is neither useful nor necessary.

An excellent plumber is infinitely more admirable than an incompetent philosopher. The society that scorns excellence in plumbing because plumbing is a humble activity and tolerates in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy. Neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.  (Gardner)

Integrity has no need of rule. (Albert Camus)

Everything faded away into a shadow-world in which, finally, even the date of the year had become uncertain. (Winston Smith)

The problem is that many researchers continue to use statistics imitatively, without thinking about the issues involved. (John Ubersax)  

Straight ahead. Strive for tone. (Antoine Batiste, a character in Treme)

She has a tendency to lift words from their natural context and repurpose them to suit her needs.

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. (C. S. Lewis)

Probability does not exist.  (De Finetti)

I'm man enough to tell you that I can't put my finger on exactly what my philosophy is now. (Malcolm X)

I am not concerned . . . with offering any facile solution for so complex a problem (T. S. Eliot)

He who understands baboon will do more toward metaphysics than Locke. (Charles Darwin)

Our decent then, is the origin of our evil passions!! ... The Devil under form of Baboon is our grandfather!" Charles Darwin, The New Yorker, Oct 23, 2006, p. 57) matters not what you think, but how you think; and that politics are relatively unimportant, while principles have a way of enduring, as do the few irreducible individuals who maintain allegiance to them. (Hitchens on Orwell, p. 211).

To the future or to the past, to time when thought is free, when men are different from one another and do not live alone � to a time when truth exists and what is done cannot be undone: From the age of uniformity, from the age of solitude, from the age of Big Brother, from the age of doublethink � greetings! (Winston Smith)

Life is not as dramatic as your ego imagines it to be. (The Dalai Lama)

What he liked, and respected, in a phrase, was the real thing. (Hitchens on Orwell)

...The 'rule of thumb' story is an example of revisionist history that feminists happily fell into believing. It reinforces their perspective on society, and they tell it as a way of winning converts to their angry creed. (The rule of thumb hoax)

To kill an error is as good a service as, and sometimes even better than, the establishing of a new truth or fact. (Charles Darwin 1879 [2008], p. 229)

... the simplest hypothesis proposed as an explanation of phenomena is more likely to be the true one than is any other available hypothesis, that its predictions are more likely to be true than those of any other available hypothesis, and that it is an ultimate a priori epistemic principle that simplicity is evidence for truth" (Swinburne 1997)

Humans cause evil by wanting to triumph over evil and [in their] quest for immortality. (Ernest Becker, Flight from Death

All models are wrong but some models are useful. (George Box)

Epidemiology is the practice of criticizing other epidemiologists. (Schneiderman)

It is my job to do a good job and tell the truth, not be popular or care what people think. (Ricky Gerais)

Types of fools: plain fools, damn fools, bloody fools, fucking fools.  (Anon)

The other paradox is that the very multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity that made us rich is now one of the disguises for a uniculturalism based on moral relativism and moral blackmail  (Christopher Hitchens)

Mutato nomine et de te fabula narrator. (Latin for "Change only the name and this story is about you.")

I have consulted my patients' safety and my own reputation most effectually by doing nothing at all. (Syndham)

We are all very good at self-persuasion and I strive to be alert to its traps, but a version of Hegel called "the cunning of history" is a parallel commentary that I fight to keep alive in my mind. (Hitchens, 2010, p. 338)

Please never forget how useful the obvious can be. (Chrisopher Hitchens)

Great minds talks about ideas; Average minds talks about events; Small minds talks about people. (Einstein)

...a protestation of innocence would have been, as in any inquisition, an additional proof of guilt. (Hitch 22, p. 51)

The modesty of the mind that tells itself the truth is better than knowledge of the mysteries I was looking for. (St. Augustine, Confessions)

It is virtue alone that makes the difference. (Voltaire)

I try to do the right thing at the right time. They may just be little things, but usually they make the difference between winning and losing. (Kareem Abdul-Jabar

The scientific mind does not so much provide the right answers as ask the right questions. (Claude Levi-Strauss)

 "We are not interested in the logic itself, nor will we argue for replacing the .05 alpha with another level of alpha, but at this point in our discussion we only wish to emphasize that dichotomous significance testing has no ontological basis. That is, we want to underscore that, surely, God loves the .06 nearly as much as the .05. (Rosnow & Rosenthal, 1989

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity. (William Butler Yeats)

If everyone stops doing what they are doing badly and switches to what he does well, everyone's productivity will improve. (The Economic Law of Comparative Advantage)

Pen, ink, and paper and a sitting posture are great helps to attention and thinking. (John Adams)

I've seen enough of the world to know how wrong I can be. (David Brooks, 2008)

God is a comedian, playing to an audience too afraid to laugh. (Voltaire)

Let us read and let us dance ... two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. (Voltaire)

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist; And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist; And then they came for the Jews, And I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew; And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up." ( )

Epidemiology, must be free from the constraints of philosophical speculation, politics, religion, and profit, and instead turn itself toward careful observation in identifying natural factors that influence health. (Original).

We now judge college education as entertainment--giving students what they want, not what they need; there is no longer a drive to act in the public interest.  See The Doctor Fox Lecture: A PARADIGM OF EDUCATIONAL SEDUCTION

The line is crossed when coercion and fraud are employed.  

I do good work because I care. (Daniel Lanois; also listen to Thank you for the day)

Teaching mathematical statistics in this way not only produced answers that were often irrelevant or misleading when applied to real situations but also led students to think not of the reality but of the mathematics as holding the key to statistical understanding. (RA Fisher)

Many of them seem to have no experience of the valuable process known as "stopping to think." (RA Fisher quoted in Box, 1978, p. 436) 

Most stress isn't brought on by doing too much but by knowing too little.

Did you learn how to believe or did you learn how to think? (Ralph Nadar's father, The New Yorker,  Feb 5, 2007, p. 16)

The fool reasons incorrectly on correct premises, while the madman reasons correctly on absurd premises (John Locke). 

The difference between knowledge and truth is that knowledge is constantly change, but the truth is constant. (Unknown source.) 

There are no "correct" answers to controversial issues, which is why they are controversial: scholars cannot agree. Answers to such questions are inherently subjective and opinion-based and teachers should not use their authority in the classroom to force students to adopt their positions. To do so is not education but indoctrination. (David Horowitz)

You've got to be very careful if you don't know where you are going because you might not get there. (Yogi Berra)

If you don't know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else. (Ibid)

We thus learn that man is descended from a hairy quadruped, furnished with a tail and pointed ears, probably arboreal in its habits, and an inhabitant of the Old World. (from the last chapter in "The Descent of Man")

Attention to the young, knowing what their hungers are and what they can digest, is the essence of the craft. ... What each generation is can be best discovered in its relation to the permanent concerns of mankind. (Bloom, 1987, p. 19)

Never regard study as a duty, but as the enviable opportunity to learn. 

Without �scientific commitment, the society, its anchor cut, would drift at the mercy of any eloquent appeal (Joan Fisher Box, 1978, p. 194). 

"he is just one of a type of a whole class of [individuals] with neither the inclination nor the capacity for critical thought." (Joan Fisher Box, 1978, p. 194). 

Lying is so commonplace and yet, if you are on the receiving end, it's such an astonishing thing. (Philip Roth, Everyman, p. 121; a brilliant monologue by Phoebe follows) 

Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work (Philip Roth, Everyman, p. 82) 

Psychological imperialism = wanting both exploitation and allegiance.

�Mankind's passion for ignorance'

It's in the DNA of lawyers not to be intimidated. (Lawrence Lessig, The New Yorker, June 19., 2006)

Statistical jokes:

If you know how to do something only one way, you don't really know how to do it. Moshe Feldenkrais 

One thing that I have learned is that belief doesn't change reality. (C Everett Koop, The New Yorker, March 13, 2006, p. 68)

People are completely driven by their beliefs or their desires. Not the facts. (C Everett Koop, The New Yorker, March 13, 2006, p. 68)

No fear, no envy, no meanness. (Liam Clancy to Bob Dylan)

Psycho polemic babble. (Dylan, Chronicles, 2004, p. 283)  

Finally a study showing a relation between teacher content knowledge and student achievement (Duh!) -- American Educator, Fall, 2005, pp. 18 - 19;  

The truth respects neither democracy nor hierarchy. (Reverend George Coyne) 

The four agreements: 1) Impeccable with your words 2) Make no assumptions 3) Don't take things personally 4) Always do your best (Toltec tradition, Ruiz, 1997)

Fortes fortuna adiuvat. (Fortune favors the brave.) -- Proverb

Say little and do much (Proverb)

Marxismus sine stercore tauri. (The New Yorker, August 22, 2005) Translation: "Marxism without the shit of the bull"

Treat adults like children and children like adults. (Kinky Friedman's father's, The New Yorker,  August 8, 2005)

Scientific inquiry is nothing but a refinement of our everyday thinking" (Einstein) 

Fanaticism is the only kind of will that can be instilled in the weak and timid. (Source unknown)

If you are going to defend a program, you have to defend it as it is, not as you wish it to be. (Source unknown)

Don't try to get it all at one time. You'll drive yourself crazy. (Angelo Dundee.) 

Reading and sauntering and lounging and dozing, which I call thinking, is my supreme happiness. (David Hume) 

A person who has freedom is not in bondage to someone else's command or someone else's ideas. A free person can do what he believes is right, and can refuse to act or to believe in ways that are unfair or wrong. (Passover Hagadah)

I cannot give any scientist of any age any better advice than this: The intensity of the conviction that a hypothesis is true has no bearing on whether it is true or not. ( Sir Peter Medawar, 1979)

When I came to practice I was looking for answers like everybody else. For years I asked "what's the right answer?" Now I am learning "What is the right question?" (Katherine Thanas, Jan 2005)

Boasts of great success are a giveaway of someone's insecurities (Niederhoffer, 1998, p. 95)  

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new. (Thoreau)

When all think alike, no one is thinking very much. (Walter Lippmann)

The mind that sets out on a walk without attending to the level of detail appropriate to the situation might get into trouble. (Zen parable)

If our motive is to manipulate, our communication and our leadership in general will prove to be ineffective over time. (Stephen R. Covey) 

Public health is an undisciplined field comprising many practitioners who do not always speak the same language, and we are undisciplined in our thinking, dabbling in many related fields without enough depth and understanding. (Bernard Guyer, Am J Epidemiol 2004; 160:607)

Science is nothing but trained and organized common sense where many a beautiful theory was killed by an ugly fact. (Thomas Huxley) 

Formal rules . . . is what  Hume means by "justice" (The New Yorker, Oct. 11, 2004, p. 95)

Wisdom . . . begins with the acknowledgment of uncertainty--of the limits of what we know.  (The New Yorker, Oct. 11, 2004, p. 93)

Radically expanding one's own powers as a ploy for legitimacy has consequences you cannot imagine. (Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven)

THE roots below the earth claim no rewards for making the branches fruitful. (Tagore, Stray Birds)

An anti-intellectual undercurrent mixed with an air of superiority (Pico Iyer at the Capitola Book Store, April, 2004) 

Marxists strategy for nullifying political opponents: Accuse others of what you do.

Good scientific practice . . . places the emphasis on reasonable scientific judgment and the accumulation of evidence and not dogmatic insistence of the unique validity of a certain procedure (Jerome Cornfield)

The best education for the best educated is the best education for all. (Source unknown)

I'm not particularly intelligent, but I am inquisitive. (Einstein) 

Yet to calculate is not in itself to analyze. (Edgar Allen Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue

They  lie in such ways that not even the opposite is not so.  

If anything, I'm diligent. (Steve Martin)

Falso in uno, falsus in omnibus. (Latin for "if he lied in this, he lied in all.")

Science is the holding of multiple working hypotheses. (Chamberlain)

A picture is worth 1,000 words, but to be so, it may have to include 100 words. (Tukey, 1986, p. 74)

Only don't, I beseech you, generalize too much in these sympathies and tendernesses--remember the every life is a special problem which is not yours but another's, and content yourself with the terrible algebra of your own. (Henry James)

A modest man with much to be modest about. -- Churchill 

It may be that he who bestows the largest amount of time and money on the needy is doing the most by his mode of life to produce the misery which he strives in vain to relieve. (Paul Thoreau Dark Star Safari, 2003, p. 328)

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. --Alexander Pope

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. -- Alexander Pope

Life is short, and the Art long; the occasion fleeting; experience fallacious, and judgment difficult. The physician must not only be prepared to do what is right himself, but also to make the patient, the attendants, and the externals cooperate. -- Hippocrates (Source: Major, 1945, p. 3)

Nor can nature be commanded, except by being obeyed, and so these twin objects, human knowledge and human power, do really meet in one; and it is from ignorance of causes that operation fails. -- Francis Bacon (Source: Susser, 1973, p. x)

Better an imprecise measure of something important than a precise measure of something unimportant. -- David Byar

It is time to realize what the problem really is, and solve that problem as well as we can, instead of inventing a substitute problem that can be solved exactly, but is irrelevant. (Anscombe, JASA, 1958, 53, 702-719).

If it is not worth doing superficially, it is not worth doing at all. -- Paul Erlich (in reference to studying whether the world is exhausting certain commodities)

A mathematician in the most primitive sense is a guy who starts out a sentence 'Consider.'" -- Ian C. Ross

If all time is eternally present / All time is unredeemable. -- T. S. Eliot (Four Quartets).

Gossip is black magic at its very worst because it is pure poison. (Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements, 1997)

You can't dance at two weddings at the same time. (Yiddish Proverb)

The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may deride it; ignorance may attack it. But in the end, there it is. (Churchill)

[Harold Bloom] finds ridiculous the sorts of criticisms which imagine that, by unmasking insidious political messages in literature, they are contributing to political a freedom struggle. (The New Yorker, Sept. 30, 2002).

Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called. -- John Stewart Mill

I have an old-fashioned faith in saturating the services with facts. (Jerry Morris in Smith, 2001, p. 1149)

Scientists, like poets, should be on the side of intellectual freedom. (said in memory of Stephan Jay Gould)

That arguments are fiercest where the facts are fewest. -- Bertrand Russell (Lasky & Stolley, 1994, p. 9)

The great tragedy of science was the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. -- Thomas Huxley (Source: Susser, 1989, p. 485)

Beware the quick answer: It might be the right answer to the wrong question. -- William Knight (University of New Brunswick)

[This is] a theory which was initially genuinely scientific degenerated into pseudo-scientific dogma. (Source unknown)

The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook. -- William James (Principles of Psychology)

post hoc, ergo propter hoc (Latin for "after, therefore because of," indicating a common logical mistaking)

The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken. (Bertrand Russell's illustration of Hume's Problem of Induction--see  Edmonds & Eidinow, 2001, p. 170)

As most lawyers know, eyewitnesses often err . . . If an event suggests some tempting interpretation, then this interpretation, more often than not, is allowed to distort what has actually been seen. -- Karl Popper

Scientists formulate and test (by refutation) etiologic hypotheses whereas policymakers formulate and test (by implementation and criticism) ethical hypotheses. -- Maclure (Rothman, 1988, p. 137)

There are three assumptions inherent in even simple statements (Bertrand Russell's Theory of Descriptions). For example, the statement "The king of France in bald" has the following assumptions: (1) There is a king of France. (2)  There is only one King of France.(3) Whomever is King of France is bald.

The meaning of a proposition is the method by which it is verified. (A maxim of logical positivism.)

Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose (French for "The more things change, the more they stay the same.")

...the pitfall is in adopting procedures as things in their own right rather than by having regard to the central objectives the procedures are intended to achieve. (Cox quoted in Armitage, 1983, p. 332)

...the best is the enemy of the good (Voltaire)

In politics, after me, I'm for you. (Anon)

[In Washington] a gaff is when someone blurts out the truth. (Michael Kinsley)

It is easier to point out an error than to enunciate the truth. (G. K. Gilbert)

We only see what we know. (Anonymous)

"the idiocy of defining human beings by race." (Mark Twain)

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. (Abraham Lincoln)

Ultimately a victim wants nothing more than to exchange places with his oppressor. (Frantz Fannon)

pluralitas non est ponenda sine necessitate (Occam's Razor, literally "multiplicity ought not be posited without necessity.")

I AM the autumn cloud, empty of rain; see my fullness in the field of ripened rice. -- Rabindranath Tagore (Stray Birds)

Nature is the final arbiter.

Nature is a set of statistical tendencies.

What is to keep this [society] from turning into a mob with a head-cutter? . . . partly churchgoing and partly club-joining and partly shopping. (Adam Gopnick explanation of Tocqueville's "How the Taste for Material Enjoyments Among Americans is United with Love of Freedom and with Care for Public Affairs"; in "How the pursuit of happiness is still our most radical idea" in The New Yorker, Oct 15, 2001, p. 215)

Assumption is the mother of all screw-ups.

Don't press. (Jack Benny said to harmonica virtuoso Larry Adler about trying to impress an unreceptive audience)

Whether we and our politicians know it or not, Nature is party to all our deals and decisions, and she has more votes, a longer memory, and a sterner sense of justice than we do. (Wendell Berry)

Evil communications corrupt good manners. [Corinthians 15:33]

Chance favors the prepared mind. (Oliver Wendell Holmes)

Luck is when preparation meets opportunity.

The honored ideals of the medical profession imply that the responsibility of the physician extends not only to the individual, but also to society. (American Medical Association's Principles of Medical Ethics, Section 10)

Reminds me of that old Steve Martin routine where he stands before a stadium crown and gets thousands of people to chant in unison, "We are all individuals, we all have our own ideas."

Forgive me for writing such a long letter, I didn't have time to write a short one. (George Bernard Shaw?)

Any man aged forty who is not a misanthrope has never loved mankind. (Chamfort)

A man of integrity is but one species of humanity. (Chamfort)

In taking a wife, choose only the one you would choose as a friend if she were a man. (Joubert)

If you want to be heard in the public, which is deaf, speak in a lower voice. (Joubert)

When one writes with ease one always thinks oneself more talented than one really is. (Joubert)

When one of my friends is one-eyed I look at him only in profile. (Joubert)

Surtout, messieurs, point de zeleAbove all, gentlemen, no zeal. (Talleyrand)

Frustration will ensue when you try to do too much. (Anon)

There is nothing so eloquent as fact.  (Norman Mailer)

Part of what I do is more of 'what I don't do' -- trying to avoid making too many decisions, because eventually the best results is still what happens naturally. (Linus Torvalds)

The secret of people who had class was that they remained accurate to the facts. (Norman Mailer)

What makes some things shoddy, pretentious, and second rate, while others are honest, retrained, and true? (Norman Mailer)

He who knows best knows how little he knows. (Thomas Jefferson)

An interesting argument, like a musical composition, should generate several interpretations of the same idea. (Am J Epidemiol:150:127).

Technology always promises to save time but actually consumes it. (Jane Smiley)

90% of the game is half mental. (Yogi Berra)

You can observe a lot by watching. (Yogi Berra)

I'm willing to be an Existentialist, provided I'm not aware of the fact. (Andre Gide)

But man, proud man,
Dressed in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he's most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep. (Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene 2)

People are being cheated out of the experience of 'becoming.' It's the computer which becomes now. (Kurt Vonnegut)

When you ask people what made the modern West different from other cultures around the world, most of the answers are terribly negative: the disenchantment of the world, the destabilization of the earth, the death of God, the death of the Goddess, nightmare after nightmare. These naysayers tend to overlook the 40 years of life extension that the West has given us, the wonders of modern physics, modern medicine, the abolition of slavery, the rise of democracies, the rise of feminism, and so on. Until we honor both the good and bad news of modernity, we're not going to see our situation clearly. (Ken Wilber)

The dignity of the West stems from what scholars from Max Weber to Jurgen Habermas call the "differentiation of the cultural values spheres," namely, morals, science, and art. (Ken Wilber)

Whenever someone wants to get us from "bad" state to a "good" state, violence is not far behind. Of course, you want to move from pollution to a clean environment, but don't pretend that G-d sits on 

and the devil on the other. No matter how peaceful you're trying to be, this split will always lead to aggression. . . . Without this awareness, we find ourselves on crusades, whether fundamentalist or ecological. Fanatics are fanatics. (Ken Wilber)

The Warrior Dreams vulnerability. The average person waits in long lines, with the mass of like others, for a vision of invulnerability. (Dennis Leri, The Feldenkrais Journal, 2: Fall, 1986.)

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. (Mark Twain)

. . . every time we fail to use words with care for their truthfulness, the honesty of everything we use words to express becomes progressively forsaken  (N. Manea, The New Yorker, June 14, 1999, p. 68)

It ain't so much the things you don't know that get you in trouble. It's the things you know that just ain't so. (Artimus Ward)

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is great. (Saul Bellows)

Science is simply a logical, rational, and careful examination of the facts that nature presents to us. (James Randi)

Religion is a damaging philosophy because it's such a retreat from reality. (James Randi)

P values and confidence intervals underestimate the amount of uncertainty associated with  measures of effect.

We are not interested in the logic itself, nor will we argue for replacing the .05 alpha with another level of alpha, but at this point in our discussion we only wish to emphasize that dichotomous significance testing has no ontological basis. That is, we want to underscore that, surely, God loves the .06 nearly as much as the .05. Can there be any doubt that God views the strength of evidence for or against the null as a fairly continuous function of the magnitude of p? (Rosnow  & Rosenthal 1989).

The ethic of reciprocity: That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow (Hillel the Elder)