I have not arranged the following quotes into an overall narrative (as I did with those on the previous page). Perhaps someday, when I've accumulated sufficiently many, I will attempt to do so.
"We, who cannot even put our own planetary home in order, riven with rivalries and hatreds, despoiling our environment, murdering one another through irritation and inattention as well as on deadly purpose, and moreover a species that until only recently was convinced that the Universe was made for its sole benefitare we to venture out into space, move worlds, reengineer planets, spread to neighboring star systems?
"I do not imagine that it is precisely we, with our present customs and social conventions, who will be out there. If we continue to accumulate only power and not wisdom, we will surely destroy ourselves. Our very existence in that distant time requires that we will have changed our institutions and ourselves. How can I dare to guess about humans in the far future? It is, I think, only a matter of natural selection. If we become even slightly more violent, shortsighted, ignorant, and selfish than we are now, almost certainly we will have no future."
From Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan
"Teach evolution in science class. Teach Genesis in religion class. But, please, don't call for Adam and Darwin and Eve to show up on the same lesson plan. Our children won't learn anything except how to snipe."
From "Ponder 'why,' not how, world created," column by J. Francis Gardner in San Antonio Express-News, 09/28/02
"In the early years of the last century, ... Sam Rayburn ... and his opponent would travel together from town to town in a one-horse buggy ... and debate the issues.
"What a travesty has occurred in the name of progress! Real campaigning has been replaced with a Frankenstein monsteran unspeakably expensive, voter-offensive orgy of paid advertising that mocks the obligation of a self-governing citizenry to keep itself informed."
From "Americans deserve some fresh free air," editorial in San Antonio Express-News, 11/17/02
"There is an ... amusing recording of [Bruno] Walter ... rehearsing Mozart's 'Linz' Symphony. The first reading is excellent, but the more he rehearses, the worse the orchestra plays."
"Toscanini once told his orchestra, 'I hate you all, because you destroy my dreams.'"
From Memoirs by Sir Georg Solti
"People with intelligence really constitute one of the smallest minority groups. They have to endure the wallowing sheep-mindedness and flagrant idiocy of what's forever being popular. Popularity is probably the greatest insult to an intelligent person."
Mrs. Brennbar in "Brennbar's Rant" from Trying to Save Piggy Sneed by John Irving
[Italics as in original.]
"If we let the Creationists have their way, we may as well go whole hog. Let us reintroduce the flat-earth theory, the chemistry of the four elements, and mediaeval astrology. For these outworn doctrines have just as much claim to rival current scientific views as Creationism does to challenge evolutionary biology."
"To concede that evolutionary biology is a theory is not to suppose that there are alternatives to it that are equally worthy of a place in our curriculum.... [Evolutionary biologists'] enthusiastic assertions that evolution is a proven fact can be charitably understood as claims that the (admittedly inconclusive) evidence we have for evolutionary theory is as good as we ever obtain for any theory in any field of science."
"[Creationists'] pleas for tolerance are calculated to strike a responsive chord in many people. [Jerry] Falwell's printed letter soliciting (tax-deductible) contributions to aid in the Creation vs. Evolution battle carefully portrays the Creationist movement as advocating open-mindedness: 'As you know, we are involved in a massive campaign to inform the American people of the truththat the concept of special creation should be taught in public schools alongside the concept of evolution... in the name of academic freedom'.... It is not the teacher's function to offer ... a contrived and unresolved 'debate' in which one of the parties is an ill-defined position that lacks any evidence in its favor. To represent as equal ideas of unequal merit is to mislead and confuse. Because the consequence of so deceiving the students may be their later inability to perform their duties as conscientious and informed citizens, such educational practices ought to be recognized for the irresponsible charades they are."
From Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism by Philip Kitcher
[In second quotation: ellipsis mine. In last quotation: first ellipsis Falwell's; second and third ellipses mine; italics Kitcher's.]
"During an electoral campaign the future President is a petitioner, a crowd pleaser, a demagogue. No noble nature can prevail in such a contest."
Olda Orestovna in November 1916 by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
"You know, for a mathematician he did not have enough imagination. But he has become a poet and now he is doing fine."
David Hilbert, about a former student, quoted in The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Mathematics by David Wells
"I am not, personally, a believer or a religious man in any sense of institutional commitment or practice. But I have a great respect for religion, and the subject has always fascinated me, beyond almost all others. . . . Much of this fascination lies in the stunning historical paradox that organized religion has fostered, throughout Western history, both the most unspeakable horrors and the most heartrending examples of human goodness in the face of personal danger. (The evil, I believe, lies in an occasional confluence of religion with secular power. . . .)"
From Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms by Stephen Jay Gould
"It never takes long for mediocrity to sink its evil claws into a good idea."
Drew McManus, on music criticism, quoted by Kyle Gann in his weblog, "Music After the Fact..." (http://www.artsjournal.com/postclassic/) on 08/03/04.
"Mahler says there is nothing more trivial than what the press . . . says; it is a company of idiots, barks like a dog at every new face, then growls for a while and after a few years one is 'our man.'"
Bruno Walter, in a letter to his parents, quoted in Mahler: His Life, Work and World by Kurt and Herta Blaukopf (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991)
"Science . . . has received its share of knocks in recent decades, with evidence that it can be biased by gender and race; it has been fashionable for some time, too, to treat all viewpoints as equally valid, evidence notwithstanding. But knowledge, like the Constitution. . ., has a power that transcends the pettiness and failings of individuals and generations. Wielded erratically and imperfectly, it is still our best weapon against the forces of ignorance and discrimination."
From "Separate but Equal," article by Elaine Wolff in San Antonio Current, 08/12-18/04
"Will we ever again be able to view a public object with civic dignity, unencumbered by commercial messages? Must city buses be fully painted as movable ads, lampposts smothered, taxis festooned, even seats in concert halls sold one by one to donors and embellished in perpetuity with their names on silver plaques? . . . I just feel that the world of commerce and the world of intellect, by their intrinsic natures, must pursue different values and priorities."
"Objectivity cannot be equated with mental blankness; rather, objectivity resides in recognizing your preferences and then subjecting them to especially harsh scrutiny and also in a willingness to revise or abandon your theories when the tests fail (as they usually do)."
"Rage (and scheme) against the dying of the light of childhood's fascination."
From The Lying Stones of Marrakech by Stephen Jay Gould (New York: Three Rivers Press, 2000)
"It is sad that so many people who have themselves been victims of hate and persecution fall into the trap of fixing blame on just one group. They point to their victimizers and say, 'If it weren't for them the disaster would not have happened.' That's not true. None of us is immune to the poison, just as any one of us can become the next victim. We must all remember that if we allow even one among us to lose his or her freedom, each of us is in danger."
Lisa Fittko, quoted in The Mezuzah in the Madonna's Foot by Trudi Alexy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994 [reprint from Simon & Schuster, 1993])
[Italics Ms. Alexy's.]
"All the tragedies falsely laid at the doorstep of science arise from our moral and political failures."
"Without some common mooring, we cannot talk to each other. And if we cannot talk, we cannot bargain, compromise, and understand. I am sad that I can no longer cite the most common lines from Shakespeare or the Bible in class, and hold any hope for majority recognition. I am troubled that the primary lingua franca of shared culture may now be rock music of the last decadenot because I regard the genre as inherently unworthy, but because I know that the language will soon change and therefore sow more barriers to intelligibility across generations."
From The Hedgehog, the Fox, and the Magister's Pox by Stephen Jay Gould (New York: Harmony Books, 2003)
"Arrogance often hides insecurity; pretentiousness usually conceals ignorance."
"Where we have an emotional stake in an idea, we are most likely to deceive ourselves." (quoting Sagan)
"Pseudoscience promoted lazy thinking, unsuitable in a democracy where laypeople had to make decisions affecting their government's future actions. Yet by the late twentieth century, the most scientific epoch in history, television was like an anthropologist's fever dream: a cornucopia of inanity, including political campaigns that sold candidates like detergent, advertising that propagandized for often useless or dangerous products, fantasy and science-fiction shows that dismissed scientific accuracy as elitist fetish, and news coverage that rarely questioned government edicts about foreign and military policy. Television was Freud's id writ large (and underwritten by giant advertisers). Whatever happened to the dream of television as an educational tool for the masses?"
"'For [Carl] what matters is what is true, not the thing that will affirm his cherished belief.' The 'real dream of science' is to understand the universe not 'as I want it to be, to make myself less afraid of the vastness, but the universe as it really is.'" (with quotes from Ann Druyan Sagan)
From Carl Sagan: A Life by Keay Davidson (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1999)
"Once corporate America got the keys to the car, Mom's credit card, and the free run of the house, it threw a drunken pool party the likes of which even Hugh Hefner has never seen. With government regulators forced to butt out, a wave of what Kevin Phillips, author of Wealth and Democracy, calls 'financialization' swept the economy. 'The processes of money movement, securities management, corporate reorganization, securitization of assets, derivatives trading, and other forms of financial packaging are steadily replacing the act of making, growing, and transporting things,' Phillips wrote. In this financialization fun house, real profits aren't necessary; you can simply make them up. Financial shenanigans are so much easier than actually making a company work."
"The unseemly link between money and political influence is the dark side of capitalism."
"Tribal loyalty is the most powerful force in the world. When we look at the earth's chronically bruised trouble zones, from Northern Ireland to East Timor, we see people acting on some ancient imperative of shared heritage instead of in accordance with their nobler instincts as individual human beings. Politicians and corporate executives also display caveman-like tribal loyalties that transcend their sense of right and wrong."
"With the four largest cigarette makers laying out more than $100,000 on lobbying each and every day Congress is in session . . ., the smoking industry's flair for bribery and coercion will ensure that Big Tobacco, unlike its customers, isn't going to die any time soon."
From Pigs at the Trough by Arianna Huffington (New York: Crown Publishers, 2003)
"Subscribers to any religion should, of course, be free to take comfort in the creation myth of their choice; by the same token those of us who take comfort in scientific logic and the inescapable beauty of well-tested theories of origins should be equally free from censure and censorship. Creationists often accost us with the claim that the theory of evolution is 'only a theory' and that therefore 'it doesn't even pretend to be the true story', but this misconception is based on the everyday use of the word theory, not on its use in a scientific sense. . . . The first of the five definitions of the word theory to be found in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary is surely the relevant one: 'a hypothesis that has been confirmed or established by observation or experiment and is propounded or accepted as accounting for the known facts.' "
"Modern man is not resting on the topmost rung of a ladder, where he will enjoy a permanent place in the Sun as a reward for having climbed so far. He is, rather, the tip of one twig of a branch on a growing bush that contains other growing branches and not a few dead ends. The living branches all continue to grow outwardsevolvein competition with one another for the light, and man's branch, like all the others, may continue to grow, or die, or fork. It certainly will not stay the same. And all of this activity can be seen as part of one great bush of life; there is no need to invent different ladders for snails, birds, insects or wheat plants."
From The First Chimpanzee: In Search of Human Origins by John Gribbin and Jeremy Cherfas (New York: Barnes & Noble, 2001)
"Many radicals on both sides like to paint the media as liberal or conservative, but aside from Fox News, the only thing conglomerates and their news organizations care about is the bottom linemoney. . . . The news business is now 95 percent business and 5 percent news. . . . The journalists today aren't puppets for political organizations, but are led to and fro by their daddies at Viacom, Walt Disney, AOL Time Warner, Sony, Vivendi Universal, and News Corp, the companies that collectively run America's psyche."
From "Journalists today set low bar" by David Salinas in The Daily Cougar Online, January 24, 2006 (Volume 71, Issue 74)
"In matters of snobbery and fashion, image is often more important than substancein a sense, indeed, image is substancegreatness is what is perceived to be great."
"Snobbery is far more essential to a failed society than to an expanding one."
From Merchant Princes by Leon Harris (New York: Kodansha International, 1994)
"Having been . . . reared by a right-wing family in East Texas, . . . I yearned for nothing so much as to get the hell out of there. I wanted to go somewhere Up North or Back East or somewhere where people talked about books and ideas, or something besides the weather and football all the time. So I did. I went from Austin to Boston, from Alice to Dallas, Par-REE twice, and Minnesota once. And all I learned is that folks everywhere mostly talk about the weather and football. So I came home."
From Molly Ivins Can't Say That, Can She? by Molly Ivins (New York: Random House, 1991)
"My little-known Eleventh Commandment? Keep your religious convictions to your own damn selves. . . . No more of this 'God Bless America' crap. What makes you think you get to be blessed and no one else does? I don't play favorites. . . . Let's get this straightGod don't bless America, God don't bless anyone, God . . . doesn't have time to be interrupted with this patriotic mumbo jumbo. Go bless yourselves and quit using My name as a justification for feeling superior to everyone else. You aren't. You are actually among the dumbest people on the planet. . . .
"George W. said on the altar of the National Cathedral that it was his mission now to 'rid the world of evil.' . . . You want to get rid of some evil? Why not start with eliminating a bit of the evil you've created. Letting people live on the street without a home is evil. Allowing millions of your children to go hungry, that is evil. Watching endless hours of reality television, . . . that is evil."
Attributed to God in Dude, Where's My Country? by Michael Moore (New York: Warner Books, 2003)
"More people are killed by pigs each year than by sharks . . . only fair, considering the far vaster number of pigs eaten by humans."
"Humans are but one species among billions of other equally vivid and thrilling lives."
From The Good Good Pig by Sy Montgomery (New York: Ballantine Books, 2006)
"Business ethics destroy the 'use value' of a work of artin other words, what a work of art can potentially mean to a person or a peopleand substitute 'exchange value,' what someone will pay for it. The process had been going on for decades, but in the 1950s there was a particular triumph of business culturevastly reinforced in the Reagan 1980sthat reduced art to mere entertainment, diversionary but not particularly necessary or reliable as a source of truth or self-knowledge. Whether a work such as Le Sacre du Printemps was capable of changing the course of history, or making an entire culture take a new look at itself, was no longer important. All that mattered was how much someone would pay for the recording."
From Music Downtown by Kyle Gann (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006)
"[I abhor] nourishing the superstition of fatheads. . . . If astrologers do sometimes tell the truth, it ought to be attributed to luck."
Johannes Kepler, quoted in Tycho & Kepler by Kitty Ferguson (New York: Walker & Company, 2002). These words were written around 1600.
"For the Greeks, knowledge of mathematics was part of what it took to be regarded as an educated and cultured person. Today's technological world . . . is a world in which mathematics plays a far greater role than in Plato's time. . . . And yet, today, knowledge of mathematics is generally not regarded as importanta person can be largely ignorant of mathematics and still be regarded as educated."
From Life by the Numbers by Keith Devlin (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998)
"The same people who choose to affirm the levitical condemnation of (male) homosexuality also choose to disregard its prohibition against taking interest [on loans]. They overlook the endorsement of slavery, and they dismiss its demand for the death penalty for adulterers and nonvirgin brides. . . . I find that such fickle readings of the Bible are most often driven more by our desire to affirm our personal preferences and prejudices rather than because of any seriousness about biblical values. If we truly aligned our preoccupations with those most often emphasized by the Bible, solving the problems of poverty would be our first and pervasive concern, while sexual orientation would be little more than an afterthought."
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis in "Texas Faith," The Dallas Morning News, October 16, 2010
"In [the] academic world, . . . originality guarantees oblivion."
"We suppress data in favor of legend when a truth strikes us as too commonplace."
From Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville by Stephen Jay Gould (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2003)
"[W]hen it comes to guys like Ken Ham [president of the Creation Museum], you can't really win. If you refuse to debate them, they claim to be censored. If you agree to debate them, you give them a public platform on which to argue that, yep, they're being censored. Better not to engage at all, at least directly. [Bill] Nye may be the last to understand a point that seems to be circulating more widely these days: creationism is a political issue, not a scientific one, and throwing around scientific facts won't dissuade those who don't accept scientific authority in the first place."
From "The Bill Nye-Ken Ham Debate Was a Nightmare for Science" by Michael Schulson, U.S. News, February 15, 2014
"It appears to me that those who try to prove an assertion by relying simply on the weight of authority act very absurdly."
Johannes Kepler, quoted by Arthur Koestler in The Sleepwalkers (London: Arkana, 1959)
"To accuse science of robbing life of the warmth that makes it worth living is so preposterously mistaken, so diametrically opposite to my own feelings and those of most working scientists, I am almost driven to the despair of which I am wrongly suspected."
"The impulses to awe, reverence and wonder which led Blake to mysticism (and lesser figures to paranormal superstition) . . . are precisely those that lead others of us to science." [Ellipsis mine.]
"Real science can be hard (well, challenging, to give it a more positive spin) but, like classical literature or playing the violin, worth the struggle."
"There are still those who are affected enough to say they know nothing about the sciences as if this somehow makes them superior. What it makes them is rather silly. . . ." (quoting On Giants' Shoulders by Melvyn Bragg)
"Mysteries do not lose their poetry when solved. Quite the contrary; the solution often turns out more beautiful than the puzzle. . . ."
"If your mother tells you never to paddle in the lake because of the crocodiles, it is no good coming over all sceptical and scientific and 'adult' and saying, 'Thank you mother, but I prefer to put it to the experimental test.' Too often, such experiments would be terminal. It is easy to see why natural selection the survival of the fittest might penalize an experimental and sceptical turn of mind and favour simple credulity in children. But this has an unfortunate by-product which can't be helped. If your parents tell you something that is not true, you must believe that, too. How could you not? Children are not equipped to know the difference between a true warning about genuine dangers and a false warning about going blind, say, or going to hell, if you 'sin'. If they were so equipped, they wouldn't need warnings at all. Credulity, as a survival device, comes as a package. You believe what you are told, the false with the true. Parents and elders know so much, it is natural to assume that they know everything and natural to believe them. So when they tell you about Father Christmas coming down the chimney, and about faith 'moving mountains', of course you believe that, too."
From Unweaving the Rainbow by Richard Dawkins (Boston & New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998)
"[C]ontemplating the devastation that would result from atomic war, Einstein said that people would no longer hear Mozart. At first this seems a strangely irrelevant remark. Yet what could more deeply convey in so few words the destruction of civilization?"
From Albert Einstein: Creator & Rebel by Banesh Hoffmann (New York: Plume, 1972)
"Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends."
Jack Finch in Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee (New York: HarperCollins, 2015)
"I found I've always done better in life by politely losing arguments and letting others talk."
Andy Weisberg, quoted in Star Warriors by William J. Broad (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1985)
[Fundamentalists] "will say, 'That's your education talking,' derogatorily, . . . ."
"When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage [fundamentalists'] fears."
from "An Insider's View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America" by Forsetti's Justice / AlterNet, 2016
"Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions."
George W. Bush, speaking at a George W. Bush Institute event in New York, October 2017
"The queer and strange, the unrestrained, the grotesque is not only interesting: it is valuable."
J. R. R. Tolkien, "On 'The Kalevala' or Land of Heroes", in The Story of Kullervo by J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Verlyn Flieger (New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016)
"Make no mistake about it: to most Americans, atheist is an epithet, rather than a reasonable and honorable self-description. . . . More than once, newspaper editors have suggested that I strike the word atheist from personal essays because 'it makes you sound like an extremist.' "
"When Dad asked why Jewish people didn't hunt, his father replied, 'It's simple. We know how it feels to be hunted.' "
From Half-Jew by Susan Jacoby (New York: Scribner, 2000)
"Some believe it's arrogant to be an atheist and declare that there is no god. The way I see it, it's not arrogant to be an a-loch-ness-monster-ist, one who believes there's no Loch Ness Monster. It's not arrogant to be an a-bigfoot-ist because we haven't found any evidence. No entity is more searched for than god and if there's no evidence for she/he/it, it's perfectly reasonable to say that you are an atheist."
Anu Garg, "A.Word.A.Day", June 19, 2018
"I am patient with stupidity but not with those who are proud of it."
Edith Sitwell, quoted in The Last Years of a Rebel by Elizabeth Salter
"It isn't [that] we should pursue lovingkindness because God commands it, or because we'll go to heaven if we do it, but rather, we should pursue lovingkindness because it's the most sensible way of trying to flourish as a human being."
Bart Campolo, quoted in "Spiritual or atheist? More nonbelievers are saying 'both.'" by Harry Bruinius in The Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 2019
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