- Please post all quotes separately, so that they can be voted up/down separately. (If they are strongly related, reply to your own comments. If strongly ordered, then go ahead and post them together.)
- Do not quote yourself.
- Do not quote comments/posts from LW. (If you want to exclude OB too create your own quotes thread! OB is entertaining and insightful and all but it is no rationality blog!)
- No more than 5 quotes per person per monthly thread, please.
-- Benjamin Franklin
(To provide some context: at the time, the smallpox vaccine used a live virus, and carried a non-trivial risk of death for the recipient. However, it was still safer on the whole than not being immunized.)
I used this quote to help convince a friend to vaccinate her child this past year. It worked.
So far as I'm aware, there are currently no publicly available vaccines that lack overwhelming evidence in support of their use. Researching every issue one has even the slightest doubts about is also a failure mode.
-- Salman Khan, Khan Academy
Upvoted. I have undergraduate commerce friends who want their degrees already so they can start on their mortgage. I asked them if they'd done a comparison with renting. They repeated the cached wisdom of "renting bad, mortgage good", and "look everyone else is doing it". I wish I had had this quote on hand - as it was I said something like "is everyone else mostly made up of commerce majors?" and didn't really get my point across.
-- Hayao Miyazaki
I've always been impressed with how so many of his movies reflect this view, without being preachy about it. Look at Princess Mononoke, for example: there are several violently conflicting sides, and most of them can be described as good, even heroic.
Indeed, Princess Mononoke is one of the least preachy eco-movies ever made, although I have a feeling that its main focus is actually not on environmentalism but on conflict resolution. To quote Miyazaki (from memory, from an awesome documentary/backstage series about Mononoke), the film is to "illustrate adult ways of thinking about issues".
The impetus for posting these Miyazaki quotes was the movie watching streak I went on recently. I've covered all of his movies except Castle of Cagliostro. I also read the Nausicaa manga, and its ending significantly upset me, to such extent that I think I will write a gratuitous Fix Fic that alters the ending to my pleasure. It upset me because nearing the ending Miyazaki constructs a pretty coherent and sensible transhumanist stance of dealing with the in-universe world and its problems, and then utterly demolishes that stance in the finale. Without going into specifics, the protagonist chooses an option that significantly increases the chance that humanity goes extinct in order to a) suspend other-optimizing by (most likely benign, maybe malicious) external forces b) eliminate medium term technological risks of moderate severity. ... (read more)
Whatever elaborate, and grotesquely counter-intuitive, underpinnings there might be to familiar reality, it stubbornly continues to be familiar. When Rutherford showed that atoms were mostly empty space, did the ground become any less solid? The truth itself changes nothing.
-- Greg Egan, Quarantine
-- Larry Wall (Programming Perl, 2nd edition), quote somewhat abridged
Richard Dawkins, God's Utility Function
I see your point, but I also think it's problematic when people say "why (implication: cause-why)" instead of just saying "how".
When I hear people saying "Why did Mt. Everest form?", I can substitute "How did..." in my head, but it also makes me wonder why they used "why" in the first place. No biggie, but that's only because we know a fair bit about geology and how mountains form.
When it comes to broader questions like "Why does the universe exist?", then the equivocation problem becomes much severer. I think in that particular case, there's a good chance that the questioner is genuinely meaning to ask "purpose-and-cause-why", because the concepts of "purpose-why" and "cause-why" are equivocated (since there's no clear answer for the latter and blank spot for the former, as there is for Mt. Everest).
To stay young requires unceasing cultivation of the ability to unlearn old falsehoods.
-- Robert A Heinlein, Notebooks of Lazarus Long
-- Benjamin Franklin
-- Edward Luttwak, "Give War a Chance"
-- Hayao Miyazaki
-Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Bernard le Bovier de Fontenelle
Recently quoted on the web in relation to acupuncture studies.
-John F. Kennedy
Dirge without Music
Edna St. Vincent Millay
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.
The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.
Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.
When somebody makes a statement you don't understand, don't tell him he's crazy. Ask him what he means.
-- H Beam Piper, Space Viking
You must really like that quote.
Tim Minchin, Storm
Dammit, how do you get line-breaks? It's a poem, but the stanzas get flowed into paragraphs.
That one seemed a little preachy and "rah-rah science" to me. I much preferred his "Fuck the Poor":
-- A Softer World #626
Possibly related: Cached Selves and some of its outbound links, and Violent Acres' idea of self-brainwashing (bottom of post).
-- Jonathan Henderson
--Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason (A824/B852); seen on http://kenfeinstein.blogspot.com/2011/01/kant-on-betting-and-prediction-markets.html as linked by Marginal Revolution
The new XKCD is highly relevant.
-- Bjarne Stroustrup
-Saying of investors
I've heard a similar aeronautical saying: Of course pigs can fly, they just need sufficient thrust.
--Leo Rosten, "An Infuriating Man," People I Have Known, Loved, or Admired.
Wolfgang Langewiesche, ''Stick and Rudder: An Explanation of the Art of Flying'', Part I, "Wings". (via)
Next paragraph in the book:
—Terry Pratchett, Making Money
Although thought by a madman in the book, there seems to be truth in this quote. People often seem to think of the future as a coherent, specific story not unlike the one woven by the brain from the past events. Unpleasant surprises happen when the real events inevitably deviate from those imagined.
Lewis Hyde, Alcohol and Poetry.
Via David Foster Wallace, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again.
To explain - I'm finding lately that the occurrence of irony is a useful warning that something is wrong; some current, important contradiction is being papered over. Sometimes the contradiction is obvious, yes, but among people with the habit of irony, sometimes that contradiction is buried deep enough that the ironist doesn't know where the contradiction lies.
"...natural selection built the brain to survive in the world and only incidentally to understand it at a depth greater than is needed to survive. The proper task of scientists is to diagnose and correct the misalignment." -- E. O. Wilson
"The incredibly powerful and the incredibly stupid have one thing in common. Instead of altering their views to fit the facts, they alter the facts to fit their views. This can be rather uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."
-Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: The psychology of Persuasion, p.59
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
-- Isuna Hasikura, Spice & Wolf [tr. Paul Starr]
— Mark Twain (in Pudd'nhead Wilson)
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg
Wall Street Journal
-- Japanese Proverb
Never understood the math behind that one. Do I start off lying down?
Okay, let's get super technical. May as well, it is LW after all.
You start off as a baby who can't even crawl. Eventually, after much effort and encouragement from loving voices you get your feet below you and you stand up.
Now that you're standing (1) you face your first challenge: Walking. You take one leg and put most of it in front of the other, you fall. (1) Why? Because you forgot to move your foot. So you stand up again, (2) and you get your leg AND your foot in front of the other. You crash down on the dog. (2) Gotta get that balance in check, babe! Alright, so we're up again. (3) You kick that leg forward, you stick an arm out the other way to spare the dog further discomfort and splash, (3) there goes the jube jubes on the coffee table. You're in heaven! Your mom perks up from the news to see what's going on (OF COURSE she notices as soon as the candies are involved) She grabs you, yells at you for stealing candies and wonders how you got yourself in so much trouble. While she steals away your candies, you decide it's time to find more adventures. In a flash you're up on your feet (3) this time you're using the coffee table to stabilize. Your mom takes a glance over and sh... (read more)
-- Agnes de Mille
Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum.
Rough translation: To err is human, but to persist in error diabolical.
(Saw the quote in William Langewiesche's Fly By Wire; it is often attributed to Seneca on the Webs, but I can find no citation.)
"Do you know, in 900 years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important."
Doctor Who (written by Steven Moffatt)
-- Eric Laithewaite, Invitation to Engineering
I think that's a bit of an overstatement, but it is definitely the key.
Cf. the Peter de Blanc tweet
"Fanatics may suppose, that dominion is founded on grace, and that saints alone inherit the earth; but the civil magistrate very justly puts these sublime theorists on the same footing with common robbers, and teaches them by the severest discipline, that a rule, which, in speculation, may seem the most advantageous to society, may yet be found, in practice, totally pernicious and destructive." -- David Hume
More of an anti-fanaticism quotation, but it seems to belong.
There is no harm in being sometimes wrong — especially if one is promptly found out.
John Maynard Keynes
William Feller, An Introduction to Probability Theory and its Applications
I can't remember the source of the quote I'm thinking of, but it goes something like this:
"People always remark that I know so much about science and so little about celebrities, but they fail to see that the two are related."
Does anyone know the original quote?
A large part of education is learning to use your own judgement.
-- Ardath Mayhar, Khi to Freedom
— Kyoshi Antonio Fournier
The post that he's responding to is also interesting.
-Jeremy Grantham, about the stock market/economy.
Evolution has been optimising humans to learn to walk as babies; it hasn't selected (directly, or anywhere near as strongly) for ability to do Topology.
All the empirical evidence I've ever seen on the subject indicates that this is the precise opposite of the truth. Could you provide evidence to support this, please?
-- John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, book 4, chapter 16
scientia potentia est
Knowledge is power.
--This quote is attributed to Sir Francis Bacon, but we don't really know.
---The Flaming Lips, "All We Have is Now" (relevance: anthropic doomsday argument)
-- Émile Coué
This sounds like extremely naive optimism. A vast majority of games in all team sports, for instance, probably end in one team failing to do a possible thing they thought they could do.
This is more depressing than inspiring, but the final sentence is worth contemplating. It's from a review of a short book by the 19th-century economist Francis Edgeworth, showing how to begin a mathematical (utilitarian) treatment of morality.... (read more)
If you just have a single problem to solve, then fine, go ahead and use a neural network. But if you want to do science and understand how to choose architectures, or how to go to a new problem, you have to understand what different architectures can and cannot do. -- Marvin Minsky
Reminds me of this story.
-- Lao Tzu
Things would be so different if they were not as they are.
I was very torn about where to post this, as it includes an image. Not only is it an image, it's an animated GIF, which can be considered obnoxious for various bandwidth and aesthetic reasons. However, I felt the humour value was worth the risk, and this seems like the right thread. So here's the quote:... (read more)
-- muflax (on his blog, not on LW, so it's cool, right?)
---Summerspeaker, "The joys of solidarity with the technophobic"
Dr. Manhattan, Watchmen
Hey, no quoting yourself.
I'm still on Mars, Laurie.
"Simultaneous" is a word that you use from within time, to refer to relations described by time. I don't think you'd use the word that way if you were really looking at the universe at the level of timeless physics, really seeing the whole design in every facet. (Though it is the word you'd probably use if you were a human author trying to write a character who sees the deeper reality beyond time, if you yourself don't quite see it. :P) Probably the intuition behind that is imagining looking at spacetime as something like a film reel laid out in front of you, and seeing that it's all already there, no matter what the people in any given frame seem to think. But that puts your perspective outside this universe's apparent time dimension, but inside an imagined outer timeline against which you can continue using words like "simultaneous" or "already". And that's no way to really reduce time; it's a mistake similar to trying to reduce consciousness by putting a little homunculus inside your head that watches your sensory input on a projector screen. It's reducing a black box to some visible machinery interacting with... another copy of the same black box.
I... (read more)
-- Kay Hanley
Bother. I had a quote to post, created the thread but forgot the quote. Probably but fortunately because it was only moderately good.