Quotations of Wisdom

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René Descartes

If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things. [Q1118]

Contact the Movie

I'll tell you one thing about the universe, though. The universe is a pretty big place. It's bigger than anything anyone has ever dreamed of before. So if it's just us... seems like an awful waste of space. Right? [Q1411]

Carl Sagan

We humans long to be connected with our origins, so we create rituals. Science is another way to express this longing. It also connects us with our origins. It too has its rituals and commandments. Its only sacred truth is that there are no sacred truths. All assumptions must be critically examined. Arguments from authority are worthless. Whatever is inconsistent with the facts, no matter how fond of it we are, must be discarded or revised. Science is not perfect. It is often misused. It's only a tool, but its the best tool we have. Self correcting, ever changing, applicable to everything. With this tool we vanquish the impossible. With the methods of science we have begun to explore the cosmos. For the first time, scientific discoveries are widely accessible. [Q1239]

Josh Billings

As scarce as truth is, the supply is always greater than the demand. [Q1854]

Michel de Montaigne

I do not speak the minds of others except to speak my own mind better. [Q1167]

Grover Cleveland

What is the use of being elected or re-elected unless you stand for something? Trust the people, trust their good sense, their decency, their fortitude, their faith. Trust them with the facts. Trust them with the great decisions. ... What wins is more important than who wins. [Q1843]

Jesse Jackson

It is time for us to turn to each other, not on each other. [Q1550]

Senator Paul Simon

[One solution to the trade deficit is to] train our workforce better. How many US-based corporations have moved plants to other countries because of our inadequately trained workforce? No one knows, but the numbers are large. That does not mean Americans have less inherent ability than people in Japan or Germany or Singapore. But privately, and sometimes publicly, industrial leaders are candid about the inadequacy of the educational background of too many Americans. [Q2060]

Mark Twain

There is no tragedy so horrible as that of a beautiful myth being murdered by an ugly fact. [Q1853]

Albert Einstein

The health of society thus depends quite as much on the independence of the individuals composing it as on their close political cohesion. [Q305]

Edward de Bono

We prefer to put our trust in evolution. This is because evolution is gradual and allows the pressure of needs, values, reactions and events to mould ideas. It allows the shaping force of criticism. Bad ideas will die. Good ideas will survive and become even better. We really like the method of evolution because it fits our traditional thinking habits. Change has its own energy and we can modify and control this by the use of our critical faculties because criticism is the basis of our thinking tradition. Evolution is also collective and seems democratic, whereas design always seems autocratic. (From the book, I am Right, you are Wrong, page 19) [Q1997]

Meister Eckhart

To be full of things is to be empty of God. To be empty of things is to be full of God. [Q1633]

Jerry Garcia

He used to be a gambling man just like you until he sank so low that there was nothing that no one could do. &mdash Old & In The Way – The Hobo Song [Q2069]

Mark Twain

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. [Q1278]

Jacob Burckhardt

Save us from the simplifiers. [Q4]


Grammar, which knows how to control even kings. [Q2086]

Pete Seeger

I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody. [Q348]

Robert Pirsig

The truth knocks on your door and you say, go away I'm looking for the truth, and it goes away. Puzzling. [Q373]

Jay Inslee

Third issue, and again I think it is important to note, anyone can make a mistake and any administration can make a mistake once in a while, but this is just a long train of abuses, an unbroken chain of following special interests rather than the health of the American people. [Q1737]

Václav Havel

Despite all the political misery I am confronted with every day, it still is my profound conviction that the very essence of politics is not dirty; dirt is brought in only by wicked people. I admit that this is an area of human activity where the temptation to advance through unfair actions may be stronger than elsewhere, and which thus makes higher demands on human integrity. But it is not true at all that a politician cannot do without lying or intriguing. That is sheer nonsense, often spread by those who want to discourage people from taking an interest in public affairs. [Q1765]

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of laborers, the genius of it scientists, and the hopes of its children. [Q1219]

Edward B Titchener

Empathy [Q2048]

Thomas Jefferson

Preach... a crusade against ignorance; establish and improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [of monarchial government]. [Q540]

Alice in Wonder Land

If you drink much from a bottle marked 'poison' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later. [Q1980]

Dar Williams

And where does magic come from? I think that magic's in the learning. [Q1958]


Inferiors revolt in order that they may be equal, and equals that they may be superior. Such is the state of mind which creates revolutions. [Q850]

Buckminster Fuller

We are not going to be able to operate our Spaceship Earth successfully nor for much longer unless we see it as a whole spaceship and our fate as common. It has to be everybody or nobody. [Q115]

Pablo Picasso

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. [Q604]

Woodrow Wilson

At every crisis in one's life, it is absolute salvation to have some sympathetic friend to whom you can think aloud without restraint or misgiving. [Q742]

George Washington

... there is nothing which can better deserve your patronage, than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is, in every country, the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impression so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours, it is proportionably essential. To the security of a free constitution it contributes in various ways: by convincing those who are entrusted with the public administration, that every valuable end of government is best answered by the enlightened confidence of the people; and by teaching the people themselves to know and to value their own rights; to discern and provide against invasions of them; to distinguish between oppression and the necessary exercise of lawful authority; between burthens proceeding from a disregard to their convenience, and those resulting from the inevitable exigences of society; to discriminate the spirit of liberty from that of licentiousness—cherishing the first, avoiding the last; and uniting a speedy but temperate vigilance against encroachments, with an inviolable respect to the laws. [Q1834]

Oliver Wendell Holmes

The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts but learning how to make facts live. [Q1084]

J. William Fulbright

Our elected representatives ... study and analyze public attitude by sophisticated new techniques, but their purpose has little to do with leadership. ... Their purpose, it seems, is to discover what people want and fear and dislike, and then to identify themselves with those sentiments. They seek to discover which issues can be safely emphasized and which are more prudently avoided. This approach to politics is the opposite of leadership; it is followership, for purpose of self-advancement. ... [Q1821]

Master Kan

To suppress a truth is to give it force beyond endurance. [Q521]

Thomas Jefferson

I hope we shall… crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country. — wrote Jefferson (to George Logan, 1816. FE 10:69) [Q304]

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Every fact is related on one side to sensation, and, on the other, to morals. The game of thought is, on the appearance of one of these two sides, to find the other: given the upper, to find the under side. [Q410]

Marshall McLuhan

We drive into the future using only our rearview mirror. [Q1487]

Thomas Paine

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right. [Q261]


Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind. [Q858]

Senator Paul Simon

While the United States has many international students studying here, only about seven-tenths of one percent of our students study abroad. The only nation that has a lower percentage is North Korea. Part of the reason for provincialism in the United States Congress and too often in the White House is that at the grass roots level in our nation we are too myopic, seeing only to the edge of our national borders, and sometimes not seeing those much closer who live in our inner cities and rural areas of poverty. Higher education has to take part of the blame when our nation fails to act responsibly in international affairs. [Q1716]

Mustafa Kemal

The religion of Islam will be elevated if it will cease to be a political instrument, as had been the case in the past. [Q1929]

Richard P. Feynman

The old problems, such as the relation of science and religion, are still with us, and I believe present as difficult dilemmas as ever, but they are not often publicly discussed because of the limitations of specialization. [Q969]

Marshall McLuhan

Madison Avenue is a very powerful aggression against private consciousness. A demand that you yield your private consciousness to public manipulation. [Q1464]

Václav Havel

The most important thing is that man should be the measure of all structures, including economic structures, and not that man be made to measure for those structures. [Q1772]

Robert Anton Wilson

Animals outline their territories with their excretions, humans outline their territories by ink excretions on paper. [Q244]

Adlai Stevenson III

Nineteen men armed with box cutters could not bring all America down. Only its government can do that. [Q1869]

Nikola Tesla

To conquer by sheer force is becoming harder and harder every day. Defensive is getting continuously the advantage of offensive, as we progress in the satanic science of destruction. [Q1681]


Homer has taught all other poets the art of telling lies skillfully. [Q845]

James Bryce

Our country is not the only thing to which we owe our allegiance. It is also owed to justice and to humanity. [Q2068]

Henry David Thoreau

Books are the carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. [Q146]

Joan Didion

Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power. [Q2079]

The Diane Rehm Show

David and Julie, I was born in 1947. I am typing this email through tears of respect for Ike. After listening to you guys analyze the past and present with so much insight and knowledge. I'm inspired by my memories of the balance and wisdom of Ike. He lives on through you. More importantly you were willing to help us remember. Hopefully your efforts will throw more balance into the current political discussion. — From Bob in Indianapolis who emailed the Diane Rehm episode, David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower: "Going Home to Glory" [Q1220]

William Gibson

Cyberspace. A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators, in every nation, by children being taught mathematical concepts. [Q679]

Albert Einstein

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. [Q19]

Václav Havel

The previous regime — armed with its arrogant and intolerant ideology — reduced man to a force of production, and nature to a tool of production. In this it attacked both their very substance and their mutual relationship. It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skilfully working in their own country, to the nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning was not clear to anyone. [Q1787]

Ward Cunningham

The code might be organized in a hierarchy, but the solution has more dimensions than will fit in a hierarchy. So when you discover a solution in a dimension that crosses across the hierarchy, you just have to go where the solution takes you and put the solution in. [Q1017]

Kurt Gödel

It is a mistake to argue rather than report. This is the same mistake the positivists make: to prove everything from nothing. A large part is not to prove but to call attention to certain immediately given but not provable facts. It is futile to try to prove what is given. [Q1964]

Jesus Christ

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. — Matthew 5:16 [Q1227]

Wendell Berry

We have lived by the assumption that what was good for us would be good for the world. We have been wrong. [Q1321]

Bob Woodward

I think journalism gets measured by the quality of information it presents, not the drama or the pyrotechnics associated with us. [Q619]


Everything has a natural explanation. The moon is not a god, but a great rock, and the sun a hot rock. [Q794]

Mustafa Kemal

There is no logical explanation for the political disenfranchisement of women. Any hesitation and negative mentality on this subject is nothing more than a fading social phenomenon of the past. ...Women must have the right to vote and to be elected; because democracy dictates that, because there are interests that women must defend, and because there are social duties that women must perform. [Q1927]

Donald E. Westlake

All of the changes in publishing since 1960 are significant. There are far fewer publishers. [Q1194]


Whenever you are angry, be assured that it is not only a present evil, but that you have increased a habit. [Q830]

Theodore Roosevelt

Behind the ostensible government sits enthroned an invisible government owing no allegiance and acknowledging no responsibility to the people. [Q1281]

Barbara Deming

We believe, in fact, that the one act of respect has little force unless matched by the other, in balance with it. The acting out of that dual respect I would name as precisely the source of our power. [Q1394]

Katherine Anne Porter

Human life itself may be almost pure chaos, but the work of the artist is to take these handfuls of confusion and disparate things, things that seem to be irreconcilable, and put them together in a frame to give them some kind of shape and meaning. [Q524]

James Paul Warburg

We shall have world government, whether or not we like it. The question is only whether world government will be achieved by consent or by conquest. [Q1974]

Clarence Darrow

Even if you do learn to speak correct English, whom are you going to speak it to? [Q1095]

Jonas Salk

Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors. [Q487]

Jimmy Wales

People are not fundamentally bad. It only takes the smallest of correctives to take care of that tiny minority that wants to disrupt the community. [Q218]


Courage stands halfway between cowardice and rashness, one of which is a lack, the other an excess of courage. [Q775]

Steven Spielberg

We have to realize that people are not born with hatred. They acquire it. We have the responsibility to listen to the voices of history so that future generations never forget what so few lived to tell! [Q1221]

Abraham Lincoln

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise .. with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. — Presidential Message to Congress Dec 1, 1862 [Q1059]

Murray Gell-Mann

Of course the word chaos is used in rather a vague sense by a lot of writers, but in physics it means a particular phenomenon, namely that in a nonlinear system the outcome is often indefinitely, arbitrarily sensitive to tiny changes in the initial condition. [Q980]

John Boyd Orr

There can be no peace in the world so long as a large proportion of the population lack the necessities of life and believe that a change of the political and economic system will make them available. World peace must be based on world plenty. [Q1156]

Abraham Lincoln

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them? [Q1295]

Ludwig Fuerbach

In religion, man denies his reason. [Q1524]


Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond. [Q1236]

Thor Heyerdahl

A civilized nation can have no enemies, and one cannot draw a line across a map, a line that doesn't even exist in nature and say that the ugly enemy lives on the one side, and good friends live on the other. [Q1530]

Hideki Tōjō

It is natural that I should bear entire responsibility for the war in general, and, needless to say, I am prepared to do so. Consequently, now that the war has been lost, it is presumably necessary that I be judged so that the circumstances of the time can be clarified and the future peace of the world be assured. Therefore, with respect to my trial, it is my intention to speak frankly, according to my recollection, even though when the vanquished stands before the victor, who has over him the power of life and death, he may be apt to toady and flatter. I mean to pay considerable attention to this in my actions, and say to the end that what is true is true and what is false is false. To shade one's words in flattery to the point of untruthfulness would falsify the trial and do incalculable harm to the nation, and great care must be taken to avoid this. [Q1058]

Marshall McLuhan

Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication. [Q1472]

Gabrielle Gifford

For example, we're on Sarah Palin's targeted list, but the thing is, that the way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of a gun sight over our district. When people do that, they have to realize that there are consequences to that action. [Q1261]

Erwin Schrödinger

The world is given to me only once, not one existing and one perceived. Subject and object are only one. The barrier between them cannot be said to have broken down as a result of recent experience in the physical sciences, for this barrier does not exist. [Q1437]

Abraham Joshua Heschel

A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair. [Q659]

Margaret Mead

Life in the twentieth century is like a parachute jump: you have to get it right the first time. [Q1424]

Oliver Wendell Holmes

To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it. [Q1412]

Scott Nesler

Democracy requires civility, not a donation. [Q1601]


If ye despise the human race, and mortal arms, yet remember that there is a God who is mindful of right and wrong. [Q1581]


They're gonna find you, just believe. You're not a person; you're a disease. — All These Lives [Q2071]

Adlai Stevenson II

Another lesson that we shall have to learn is that we cannot deal with questions of foreign policy in terms of moral absolutes. Compromise is not immoral or treasonable. It is the objective of negotiation and negotiation is the means of resolving conflict peacefully. But when we negotiate we have to have something to negotiate with as well as for. If rigidity and absolutist attitudes deprive our representatives of anything to negotiate with, then there is nothing they can negotiate for. [Q1866]


Every bad precedent originated as a justifiable measure. [Q437]


Thus the sum of things is ever being reviewed, and mortals dependent one upon another. Some nations increase, others diminish, and in a short space the generations of living creatures are changed and like runners pass on the torch of life. [Q1566]

Oliver Wendell Holmes

People who honestly mean to be true really contradict themselves much more rarely than those who try to be 'consistent'. [Q1080]

Krista Tippett

Moses, Jesus, Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi, Gandhi; These kind of people are geniuses of the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of objective knowledge. — TED - Reconnecting with Compassion - Paraphrasing Albert Einstein. [Q1399]

Senator Paul Simon

A better-prepared workforce means higher productivity. Higher productivity results in a lower unit cost to manufacture an item. Lower costs increase the likelihood of successfully competing with products manufactured overseas. This leads to higher sales, which results in higher profits. Everyone wins-labor, management, stockholders, the government, and the dollar. [Q2059]


Be careful to leave your sons well instructed rather than rich, for the hopes of the instructed are better than the wealth of the ignorant. [Q810]

Mohandas Gandhi

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. [Q563]

Buckminster Fuller

You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. [Q128]

Lord Henry Brougham

Education makes a people easy to lead but difficult to drive, easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. [Q1861]

Václav Havel

The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both. [Q1754]

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