Afternoon InquisitionRandom AsidesSkepticism

AI: Can I Quote You On That?

I love a good quote. If you have ever purchased a Surly necklace from me through the mail you know that I like to include a strip of paper nestled in the bottom of the box with a quote about art, science or skepticism. A large part of my Surly-Ramics art project has to do with communication and how the art interacts with the owner and the viewer. I like to think of the quotes I send as another quotesway to inspire the people I come in contact with to learn or to start a conversation or to have a good laugh. I keep hundreds of quotes separated into topics in bags and I hand pick one out to send with each order.

I want more quotes. So I have actively started collecting new ones. I am now even writing down cool things I hear people say when I am out and about.

Here is a quote I heard last weekend at SkeptiCAL:

“Skepticism is a perspective that does not accept or reject claims at face value, but withholds judgment until specific evidence is available.” ~ Eugenie Scott

Here is one of my all-time favorite quotes:

“I’ve never believed in God, but I believe in Picasso.” ~ Diego Rivera

And something Surly Johnny said that made me laugh:

“I’m so lowbrow, they call me moustache.”

What are some of your favorite quotes and why do you love them? Have you ever said or heard anything quote worthy? Can I quote you on that?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 3pm ET.

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”
    Groucho Marx

    “I don’t want to believe. I want to know.”
    Carl Sagan

    “What do YOU care what other people think?”
    Richard Feynman.

  2. “If it’s true that our species is alone in the universe, then I’d have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.” -George Carlin

    “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” – Winston Churchill

    And in keeping with the forthcoming General Election:
    “A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen.” -Winston Churchill (again)

  3. I don’t have a great quote to contribute off the top of my head but I find it rather amusing that you should quote Eugenie Scott just as I took a break from reading her book “Evolution vs. Creationism.”

    I had never heard of her before that! :-P

  4. “There is no problem so great that it cannot be solved by the proper application of high explosives.” – Me. (Yeah, it’s all over the place but I thought it up myself back in high school.)

    “Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.” – Mark Twain

    “D’oh!” – Homer Simpson

  5. Because it’s true:

    “I wanna live ’til I die, no more, no less.” ~Eddie Izzard.

    And, really, what he says is almost always the truth:

    “If you’ve never seen an elephant ski, you’ve never been on acid.” ~Eddie Izzard

    Anyway, I can vaguely remember some awesome religion-related Eddie quotes, but I’ll have to look them up when I have more free time later today.

    This next quote has always spoken to me. I’m pretty sure John Irving was in my brain when he wrote this:

    “Your memory is a monster; you forget – it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you – & summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!” ~ John Irving

  6. My 3 kids are in their late teens and twenties now and they all agree that The Simpsons has taught them enormously about religion, history, literature…..

    Facts are meaningless! You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true!
    — Homer Simpson

    And this quote just makes me laugh…

    “If you prick me, do I not… leak?” — Data (The Naked Now)

  7. Three quotes, of varying degrees of seriousness:

    “Why should I accept adulthood? Adulthood never accepted me!” — Zippy the Pinhead

    “[W]hen people thought the earth was flat, they
    were wrong. When people thought the earth was
    spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that
    thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as
    thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.” —Isaac Asimov

    “You know, the most *amazing* thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won’t believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357! Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the stae, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!” — Richard Feynman

  8. Here’s a few favorites I’ve got on my Facebook profile:

    “On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], ‘Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?’ I am not able to rightly apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.”
    — Charles Babbage

    “We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & unalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.”
    — Thomas Jefferson.

    “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”
    — Lester Bangs, from Almost Famous

    “It is one thing to describe an interview with a gorgon or a griffin, a creature who does not exist. It is another thing to discover that the rhinoceros does exist and then take pleasure in the fact that he looks as if he didn’t.”
    — G.K.Chesterton

    “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant’? Instead, they say, ‘No, no no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion, old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the Universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”
    — Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot.

    “I’m struck again by the irony that spaceflight – conceived in the cauldron of nationalistic rivalries and hatreds – brings with it a stunning transnational vision. You spend even a little time contemplating the Earth from orbit and the most deeply ingrained nationalisms begin to erode. They seem the squabbles of mites on a plum.”
    — Carl Sagan, The Pale Blue Dot.

    “[Think] of an experience from your childhood. Something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all, you really were there at the time, weren’t you? How else would you remember it? But here is the bombshell; you weren’t there. Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place… Matter flows from place to place, and momentarily comes together to be you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made. If that doesn’t make the hair stand up on the back of your neck, read it again until it does, because it’s important.”
    — Steve Grand

    @Bacfarc: I’m so putting those Asimov and Feynman quotes in…

  9. “…and that’s the scientifical truth, that’s much better, you shouldn’t let poets lie to you.” – Bjork

    From the end of a YouTube video, that I would track down if I weren’t so lazy, in which Bjork tells a story about what some poet told her about how a TV works. She then investigated the truth and takes the back off of a TV to demonstrate for her viewers that there are, in fact, no elves or fairies inside the TV.

  10. “The simple believeth every word” – the Bible. I forget the chapter and verse, but think it’s in Proverbs. I’ve often wondered how biblical literaists interpret that. (They probably ignore it.)

    Also: “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon.

    I may post some more after consulting my QI book of quotations.

  11. I can’t believe no one has mentioned Oscar Wilde yet.

    “People who count their chickens before they are hatched, act very wisely, because chickens run about so absurdly that it is impossible to count them accurately”


    “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

    For starters.

  12. Let’s see, what are some good ones off the first page of my file…

    “Man will never truly be free until the last king has been strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” –Voltaire

    “I’m tired of chasing my dreams, I’m gonna just ask ’em where they’re goin’ and hook up with them later.”
    –Mitch Hedberg

    “Some people are like Slinkies. They really aren’t much good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs”

    “Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish.”
    –B. Brecht

  13. “Doubt may clear the path for carefree living, and may increase pleasure in the life one has – but while scything away much nonsense, you have to be careful not to get caught in the blade.” – Jennifer Michael Hecht

  14. Ack, missed one of the best:

    “I know just enough about myself to know I cannot settle for one of those simplifications which indignant people seize upon to make understandable a world too complex for their comprehension. Astrology, health food, flag waving, bible thumping, Zen, nudism, nihilism — all of these are grotesque simplifications which small dreary people adopt in the hope of thereby finding The Answer, because the very concept that maybe there is no answer, never has been, never will be, terrifies them”
    —Travis Mcgee [John D. Macdonald]

  15. “Question with boldness even the existence of God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason than that of blindfolded fear.”
    Thomas Jefferson

    One of my favorite-to-quote statesmen. And he is so often misc-quoted by people who wish he were more like them (“America has always been a religious nation” nutters, mostly)

  16. @Andrew Nixon: Yep, Proverbs 14:15. Actually one of the few times where the bible counsels thinking (though it doesn’t do it well).

    Full verse: “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”

  17. Some great ones there. My current favorite quote is a song lyric …

    Well something’s lost but something’s gained
    in living every day.

  18. I like the quotations below for a number of reasons which should be fairly obvious.

    “Belief is the death of intelligence. As soon as one believes a doctrine of any sort, or assumes certitude, one stops thinking about that aspect of existence.”
    — Robert Anton Wilson

    “…, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all”
    — Carl Sagan

    -(To err is human, but to persist diabolical) –
    –Lucius Annaeus Seneca (c. 4 BC – 65 AD)

    “The function of science fiction is not always to predict the future but sometimes to prevent it.”
    — Frank Herbert,

    “The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views… which can be very uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering.”
    — Doctor Who

  19. @Ranson: ““Some people are like Slinkies. They really aren’t much good for anything, but they still bring a smile to your face when you push them down a flight of stairs”


  20. To the quotefile!

    Falling in love with somebody, they say, is a little like getting a tune into your head and not being able to stop whistling it… except much more so…

    What’s one more meaningless act of violence on that zoo of a planet? It would be appropriate.
    When in Rome; burn it.

    Both from Iain M. Banks “The State of the Art”. The second one, from a discussion some humanoid aliens have about intervening and bringing back a third alien who’s doing bad stuff on earth is just a great example of Banks’ imagination. Of which this from Against a dark background is another.

    His Majesty King Tard the Seventeenth, Lord of Despite, Seventy-fourth of the Useless Kings, Lord Protector and Master of Pharpech, its Dominions, Citizens, Lower Classes, Animals and Women, Prime Detester of God the Infernal Wizard, Exchequer of the Mean, and Guardian of the Imperial Charter

    Then there’s this greate image from Neal Stephenson’s The system of the world:

    The light shone on a face imprinted with more odd and unwholesome tales than a warehouse full of Bibles.

    And one of thousands of great Pratchett quotes:

    ‘Multiple exclamation marks,’ [Rincewind] went on, shaking his head, ‘are a sure sign of a diseased mind.’

  21. My favourite quote in the world is a bit long so it deserves it’s own comment. It’s a conversation between Death and his human granddaughter Susan in Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather:

    ’Tooth fairies? Hogfathers? Little—’
    ’So we can believe the big ones?”
    ’They’re not the same at all!’
    ’Yes, but people have got to believe that, or what’s the point—’
    She tried to assemble her thoughts.
    ’Yes, but people don’t think about that,’ said Susan. Somewhere there was a bed . . .
    ’You make us sound mad,’ said Susan. A nice warm bed . . .

  22. Natalie Angier: “I don’t believe in God, Gods, Godlets or any sort of higher power beyond the universe itself, which seems quite high and powerful enough to me. I don’t believe in life after death, channeled chat rooms with the dead, reincarnation, telekinesis or any miracles but the miracle of life and consciousness, which again strike me as miracles in nearly obscene abundance.”

  23. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” –
    Galileo Galilei

    “The church says the earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.” –Ferdinand Magellan, (attrib)

    “There are 10 types of people in the world, those who understand binary and those who don’t” – anon.

  24. “I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.”

    “Still and all, why bother? Here’s my answer. Many people need desperately to receive this message: I feel and think much as you do, care about many of the things you care about, although most people do not care about them. You are not alone.”

    “What should young people do with their lives today? Many things, obviously. But the most daring thing is to create stable communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.”

    -Kurt Vonnegut

  25. One of my consistent favorites is technically from Francis Bacon, but I learned it from Shadowrun. “For I have taken all knowledge to be my province.” Much better now that I’m a librarian.

    One I find myself pointing to frequently, though it’s not terribly profound, is from Neal Stephenson:

    “Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.”

    Not terribly profound, but amusing when you’re 32.

  26. “Dude why is your ring off?” – Allegedly engraved into the ring of another Amy’s husband.

  27. Two leap to mind:

    “The avalanche has already started, it is too late for the pebbles to vote.”
    — Ambassador Kosh from Babylon: “Believers”

    and a perennial favourite:
    “Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
    — “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

  28. @James Fox: Snow Crash. The full quote goes on to say that “Hiro used to feel this way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this was liberating. He no longer has to worry about being the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken.”

  29. @davew: “Who says herbal remedies don’t work? They are the best cure I know of for a dull party.”

    Fixed that for you.

    @Mark Hall: I started reading Stephenson with Cryptonomicon and everything new after that. I got around to Snow Crash and Diamond Age in the past year after reading Anathem; so many good lines and stories in his books.

  30. These are all mine, take ’em or leave ’em

    “Religion is an addiction. Like quitting smoking you feel you need it and you hold on despite all the evidence that you should quit. Eventually you let go and it’s hard for a while, having all that comfort taken away. But eventually you’ll feel better than you ever have.”

    “Humility is overrated and at it’s worst it’s dangerously stupid.”

    “Faith allows no way of distinguishing fact from fiction. It’s the epitome of closed-mindedness.”

    “Skepticism isn’t saying you’re wrong; it’s asking you to prove it.”

  31. A few of my favourites…

    “I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.”
    Douglas Adams

    “You live and learn. At any rate, you live.”
    Douglas Adams

    “We all pay for life with death, so everything in between should be free.”
    Bill Hicks

    “I don’t mean to sound bitter, cold, or cruel, but I am, so that’s how it comes out.”
    Bill hicks

  32. “You are unique!… Just like everybody else in the planet.” -Anon

    BTW… What about clones???

  33. @Montsecor: Reminds me of the bit in Life of Brian:

    Brian: Look, you’ve got it all wrong! You don’t need to follow me, you don’t need to follow anybody! You’ve got to think for yourselves! You’re all individuals!
    Crowd: Yes! We are all individuals!

  34. Here’s my favorite:

    “You guys are so unhip it’s a wonder your bums don’t fall off.”
    – Zaphod Beeblebrox from The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

  35. “They say money can’t buy happiness. But give me 50 bucks and watch me smile.” – Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

  36. “Religion is myth-information” – me. (American Atheists used it, but they got it from me.)

    “Giving up [belief in] witchcraft is, in effect, giving up the Bible.” John Wesley, somewhere in his journals. Curiously, I applied exactly this logic when I was about 7 years old, but I came to the opposite conclusion than Wesley’s one, and I’m still happy with the logic.

  37. “Common sense is not so common.”–Voltaire

    “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than to not think at all.”–Hypatia of Alexandria

    “All formal dogmatic religions are fallacious and must never be accepted by self-respecting persons as final.” again from Hypatia of Alexandria

    “The ugliest of trades have their moments of pleasure. Now, if I was a grave digger, or even a hangman, there are some people I could work for with a great deal of enjoyment.”–Douglas Jerrold

  38. “In theory, practice should work like theory. In practice, it doesn’t.” — Yogi Berra

    “Reference to a thinker’s bias is no substitute for a refutation of his doctrines by tenable arguments.” — Ludwig von Mises

    “I am not young enough to know everything.” — Oscar Wilde

    “Entropy isn’t what it used to be.” — Unknown

    “U.S. politics is divided into two political parties who each accuse the other of ‘not getting’ the Constitution, and they are both correct.” — Lorenzo (

    “It is usually futile to try to talk facts and analysis to people who are enjoying a sense of moral superiority in their ignorance.” — Thomas Sowell

  39. “A disciple is an asshole looking for a human being to attach itself to.” – Robert Anton Wilson

  40. “Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” – Dylan Thomas


    “There ’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’t is not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.” – William Shakespeare

  41. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.”
    — W.C. Fields

  42. “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish.”
    – Proverbs 31:6

    “A painted picture is like a vehicle. One can either sit in the driveway and take it apart or one can get in it and go somewhere.”
    – Mark Tansey

    “Though she be but little, she is fierce.”
    -Shakespeare (Midsummer Night’s Dream)

    “Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one.”
    – Stella Adler

    “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.”
    – G. B. Stern

  43. I keep a text file of favourite quotations. One of my favourites is from Canadian Marshall McLuhan, who said: “A point of view can be a dangerous luxury when substituted for insight and understanding.”

    Also: “If two things don’t fit, but you believe both of them, thinking that somewhere, hidden, there must be a third thing that connects them, that’s credulity”–Umberto Eco


  44. Two of my favourites:

    Science is the great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition.

    ~ Adam Smith

    nothing is inherently mysterious – nothing that actually exists, that is. If I am ignorant about a phenomenon, that is a fact about my state of mind, not a fact about the phenomenon; to worship a phenomenon because it seems so wonderfully mysterious, is to worship your own ignorance

    ~Eliezer Yudkowsky

    Less Wrong also has a monthly Rationality Quotes thread, so you should be able to use that as an ongoing source.

  45. Getting a bit off-topic: One of the quotes in your photo of paper strips is
    “No amount of belief makes something a fact.” – James Randi.

    I just thought I’d point out that “Money is valuable” is an exception to this rule.

  46. “What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.” ~Bertrand Russel

    “The beginning of wisdom is found in doubting; by doubting we come to the question, and by seeking we may come upon the truth.” ~Pierre Abelard

    “Many a man in love with a dimple makes the mistake of marrying the whole girl.” ~Stephen Leacock

    “A witty saying proves nothing.” ~Voltaire

  47. I used to think I was weird, but since I discovered skepticism, I realize I’m just curious.

  48. If you hold an opinion that denies the evidence, you are deluding yourself.

    The inability to explain something doesn’t mean that it’s inexplicable
    Steve Novella

    Beware the lollipop of mediocrity, lick it once and you’ll suck forever.

  49. “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

  50. “Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, ‘This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn’t it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!’ This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it’s still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything’s going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for.'”

    Douglas Adams

  51. I’d just love to be able to quote Feynman or Twain, because everyone accepts that they are worth being quoted. But I forget; the ones I remember are of unknown origin. Never mind, here are two of my favourites:

    “Duct tape is like The Force: It has a dark side and a bright side, and it binds the universe together.”
    (Just great how it makes fun of pathos, and yes – appeals to the Star Wars fan in me.)

    “Serving coffee in aircraft causes turbulence.”
    (My standard answer if someone confuses correlation and causation, plus a clever variant of Murphy’s Law.)

  52. The abovementioned puddle quote from Douglas Adams (as well as just about every other word that man uttered while still alive).

    His tribute to procrastination is relevant to my interests (“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by”).

    “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. ” –Carl Sagan

    “The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before.” –Neil Gaiman

  53. “E pur si muove.” –Galileo (apoc.)

    “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” –Sagan et. al.

    “Intelligence is knowing the answers to the questions. Wisdom is knowing what questions to ask.” –SRP

  54. If you open your mind too much your brain will fall out – made famous by Tim Minchin

    The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it. – Terry Pratchett

  55. One of my favorites:

    Nature doesn’t care whether you live or die. Medicine does.
    (Don’t know where that’s from)

  56. @Alisha: Not to forget another fantastic Douglas Adams quote: “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

  57. The first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club.
    ‒Randall Munroe (xkcd)

    Honesty may be the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.
    ‒George Carlin

    Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.
    ‒Oliver Wendell Holmes

    A great many people think they are thinking when they are really rearranging their prejudices.
    ‒Edward R. Murrow

    It is better to be roughly right than to be precisely wrong.
    ‒John Maynard Keynes

    Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a flea, yet he makes gods by the dozens.
    ‒Michel de Montaigne

    Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.
    ‒Isaac Asimov

    If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
    ‒Carl Sagan

    War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.
    ‒Ambrose Bierce

    If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.
    ‒Derek Bok

    When you choose the lesser of two evils, always remember that it is still an evil.
    ‒Max Lerner

    The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.
    ‒Niels Bohr

    If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?
    ‒Albert Einstein

    Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
    ‒Susan Ertz

  58. “What are the lessons to be learned from this journey of the mind? That humans are emotionally fragile, perennially gullible, hopelessly ignorant masters of an insignificantly small speck in the cosmos.”
    – Neil deGrasse Tyson

  59. I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.
    -Rebecca West

    Make it idiot-proof and somebody will make a better idiot.

    Experience is something you get about ten seconds after you needed it.

    Thermodynamics is a funny subject. The first time you go through it, you don’t understand it at all. The second time you go through it, you think you understand it. The third time you go through it, you don’t you don’t understand it, but by that time you are so used to it, so it doesn’t bother you any more.
    -Arnold Sommerfeld

  60. My favorite quotes are Mark Twain and Albert Einstein:

    “If you grab a cat by its tail you will learn things you cannot learn any other way.”

    “If we knew what we were doing, it wouldn’t be called ‘research'”

    My best contributions to the art of quoting are in my email sig:

    “Yes, I am.”

    “Always land in something soft”

    I have a sizable collection of quotes and when I hear a quote I’ve never heard before, I track down the source and add it to my collection. I’ve read a few here that aren’t in my file, so I’m going to be pretty busy for a little while :)

  61. @Filias Cupio: Money isn’t an exception to that, it is a demonstration of it. Money has no value except as paper, and possibly as art (if you were so inclined)

    However, money is useful because people are under the impression it is valuable, which means you can do things with it. It is not the money becoming valuable to you. It is the mistaken notion in other people that the money is valuable that allows you to exchange it for things.

    Yes…. horribly off topic… on the other hand… Let me make a possible contribution to someone’s collection:

    “Some objects do have inherent value. You can think that money is incredibly valuable, but if no one else accepts your belief, you can’t buy a hammer with it. However, if no one around you believes the hammer in your hand has any value, you can still hit them in the head with it.”

  62. * last words of Oscar Wilde – “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.”

    “Original thought is like original sin: both happened before you were born to people you could not have possibly met.”
    Fran Lebowitz

  63. You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose but you can’t wipe your friends off on the couch. -unknown

  64. Ooo, here’s another obscure one:

    “What do you think of *these*?
    “Cerebus thinks they’ll heal if you stop wearing the chainmail bikini.”
    — Red Sonja & Cerebus the Aardvark

  65. Don’t stop punching until you’ve lost the fight or he runs away.
    My dad.

    Are you wearing clean underwear?
    My mom.

    Because whisky is never in a bad mood and doesn’t get headaches.

    Always aim for the center of mass.
    Some DI.

    There are four lights!
    Jean Luc Picard

  66. A few of my favs…

    “Believe me Mike, I calculated the odds of this succeeding versus the odds I was doing something incredibly stupid and…I went ahead anyway” – Crow T Robot

    “My goodness. I do believe I’m drunk. I suddenly feel the need… to strut my funky stuff.” – Kryten 2X4B 523P

    “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” – Douglas Adams

  67. build a man a fire, and he’ll be warm for one night. Set a man on fire, and he’ll be warm for the rest of his life.

  68. How about a little A.C. Grayling:

    “Science is the outcome of being prepared to live without certainty and therefore a mark of maturity. It embraces doubt and loose ends.”

    “I’m not sure it is possible to think too much. You don’t refresh your mind by partying in Ibiza.”

    “Life is all about relationships. By all means sit cross-legged on top of a mountain occasionally. But don’t do it for very long.”

  69. More Douglas Adams!!

    A learning experience is one of those things that say, “You know that thing you just did? Don’t do that.”

    Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable, let’s prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

    I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer.

    In the beginning the universe was created. This made a lot of people angry and has been widely regarded as a “bad move”.


  70. Listen to Mustn’ts, child, listen to the Don’ts.

    Listen to the Shouldn’ts, the Impossibles, the Won’ts.

    Listen to the Never Haves, then listen close to me.

    Anything can happen, child, Anything can be.

    Shel Silverstein.

  71. “…those found guilty of home invasion and burglary should be murdered in the face by bears.”
    -Rebecca Watson

    “Any monkey worth his salt would give any bird a beak-flip.”
    -Perry DeAngelis

    “If there’s nothing wrong with me…maybe there’s something wrong with the universe!”
    -Dr. Beverly Crusher

    “Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat.”
    -John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy, 1981-1987

    “Every man gets a narrower and narrower field of knowledge in which he must be an expert in order to compete with other people. The specialist knows more and more about less and less and finally knows everything about nothing.”
    -Konrad Lorenz

    “The hard part about being a bartender is figuring out who is drunk and who is just stupid.”
    -Richard Braunstein

    “To the scientist there is the joy in pursuing truth which nearly counteracts the depressing revelations of truth.”
    AND “If religion were true, its followers would not try to bludgeon their young into an artificial conformity; but would merely insist on their unbending quest for truth, irrespective of artificial backgrounds or practical consequences.”
    AND “I am disillusioned enough to know that no man’s opinion on any subject is worth a damn unless backed up with enough genuine information to make him really know what he’s talking about.”
    AND “Bunch together a group of people deliberately chosen for strong religious feelings, and you have a practical guarantee of dark morbidities expressed in crime, perversion, and insanity.”
    -H. P. Lovecraft

  72. I haven’t read through all the comments yet so I hope this one hasn’t come up yet:

    “Homeopaths use evidence like a drunkard uses lampposts: for support rather than illumination.”
    -Mark Twain

  73. “A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence.” – David Hume

    “Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among ‘multiple working hypotheses,’ has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.” – Carl Sagan

    “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” – Charles Darwin

    “The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.” – Delos B. McKown

    “The only reliable basis for knowledge, the only route from subjectivity to objectivity, is to relentlessly subject a belief to doubt, then to allay the doubt (or confirm it) by gathering evidence that’s independent of one’s commitment to the belief. To the extent that worldviews, however widely held, fail to test their factual claims using publicly available evidence, and to the extent these claims are incapable of being tested, they fail as contenders for truth.” – Tom Clark

  74. Can I say – terrific thread!

    Not a shred of evidence exists in favour of the idea that life is serious
    – Brendan Gill

    The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
    – George Shaw

  75. @helenrizzo:

    “My 3 kids are in their late teens and twenties now and they all agree that The Simpsons has taught them enormously about religion, history, literature…..”

    That says more about present day society than anything else I’ve heard this year.

  76. I’m a bit late to the party, but:

    “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” – Aristotle

    It just reminds me of all the (reasoned and rational) conversations about everything and nothing I’ve had with my father over the years – no yelling, whether we ‘believed’ what we were debating or not.


    “I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them. I shall use my time.” – Jack London

    My first exposure to this London quote was the last two sentences in one of Fleming’s Bond books…can’t remember which one off the top of my head. But it resonates – “I will use my time”

  77. Just recently Steve Novella said “You can have your own opinions,but not your own facts” not sure If it’s his, I liked it though.I have spent my life buying quote books and searching the internet as I find quotes inspiring and it teaches me to think about how I live my life.Thanks Amy

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