"I often have to arrange talks years in advance. If I am asked for a title, I suggest “The Current Crisis in the Middle East.” It has yet to fail."
        -- Noam Chomsky

"We don't do science for the general public. We do it for each other. Good day."
        -- Renato Dalbecco, complete text of interview with H F Judson

"Most witches don't believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don't believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman."
        -- Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

"He didn't reject the idea so much as not react to it and watch as it floated away."
        -- David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

"People can't predict how long they will be happy with recently acquired objects, how long their marriages will last, how their new jobs will turn out, yet it's subatomic particles that they cite as "limits of prediction." They're ignoring a mammoth standing in front of them in favor of matter even a microscope would not allow them to see."
        -- Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

"I would strongly challenge the notion of “that's what's called growing up.” The most depressing part of the nomenclature around adolescence and college life is this bizarre connection between “experimentation” / “learning from your mistakes” and binge drinking, reckless sex, and drug use."
        -- Ben Casnocha

"Behind every story of extraordinary heroism, there is a less exciting and more interesting story about the larger failures that made heroism necessary in the first place."
        -- Black Belt Bayesian

"Anyone who claims that the brain is a total mystery should be slapped upside the head with the MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences. All one thousand ninety-six pages of it."
        -- Tom McCabe

"Try explaining anything scientific to your friends -- you soon won't have any."
        -- Soloport

"The definition of the word "meaning," is something that is conveyed. So, who is conveying this "meaning" that you speak of? To put it another way, if "life" is a painting, then who is painter? Whoever is the painter is the one who decides what meaning the painting has. Now, depending on your outlook, the painter is either yourself, or God. Depending upon how you answer that question, you should now be able to figure out the answer."
        -- Flipside

"It is doubtful that most "Noble Lies" are at all noble."
        -- Samantha Atkins

"In essence, we have to be more moral than God. A quick glance over God's rap sheet suggests that this is, indeed, possible."
        -- Blake Stacey

"Are there wonderful Xians out there? Yes. Do I think they are assholes for believing I deserve to burn forever because I don't believe in fairies? Hell yes."
        -- RRyan

"I am most often irritated by those who attack the bishop but somehow fall for the securities analyst."
        -- Nassim Taleb, The Black Swan

"I've found that people who are great at something are not so much convinced of their own greatness as mystified at why everyone else seems so incompetent."
        -- Paul Graham

       "But then... it used to be so simple, once upon a time.
        Because the universe was full of ignorance all around and the scientist panned through it like a prospector crouched over a mountain stream, looking for the gold of knowledge among the gravel of unreason, the sand of uncertainty and the little whiskery eight-legged swimming things of superstition.
        Occasionally he would straighten up and say things like "Hurrah, I've discovered Boyle's Third Law." And everyone knew where they stood. But the trouble was that ignorance became more interesting, especially big fascinating ignorance about huge and important things like matter and creation, and people stopped patiently building their little houses of rational sticks in the chaos of the universe and started getting interested in the chaos itself -- partly because it was a lot easier to be an expert on chaos, but mostly because it made really good patterns that you could put on a t-shirt.
        And instead of getting on with proper science scientists suddenly went around saying how impossible it was to know anything, and that there wasn't really anything you could call reality to know anything about, and how all this was tremendously exciting, and incidentally did you know there were possibly all these little universes all over the place but no one can see them because they are all curved in on themselves? Incidentally, don't you think this is a rather good t-shirt?"

        -- Terry Pratchett, Witches Abroad

"To the extent there is a secret handshake among good hackers, it's when they know one another well enough to express opinions that would get them stoned to death by the general public."
        -- Paul Graham

New Comment
9 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since:
glibly liken belief in God to superstition

No, he's not saying belief in God is 'like' superstition, he's saying it is superstition. And it is. Even if God exists and can be shown to exist, current belief in such an entity is only superstition.


The concept of an utopia is pretty much incoherent. Your attempt at slandering what you imagine to be my beliefs is not - it's simply wrong. And pathetic.


"EY, in this post you glibly liken belief in God to superstition. Similarly, I liken your belief in cryonics to other superstitions."

Well, the difference is that cryonics exists even if it doesn't work (yet?). You can see how this changes the nature of the debate.

"To solve this debate let us have Peter McCluskey set up another long-dated prediction market on InTrade that no one will actually bother to trade."



@Overcoming Cryonics:

I'm Discussing/Dissecting the claim that Transhumanism is a religion in this blog post . It may be of interest to you.

Roko, very interesting post that you wrote. Thank you for alerting me to it.

My likening cryonics, etc. to religion isn't that I don't recognize scientific rigor to some aspects of cryonics. It is that some of the participants on this blog seem to make Kuhnian leaps of faith with respect to those areas as the scientific support doesn't justify the conviction with which they believe in those things.

Wondering if " Renato Dalbecco" is actually Renato Dulbecco - but all the links to that quote use the first spelling.

We don't do science for the general public. We do it for each other.

Depends on what you mean by “for”. We do do it with taxpayers' money.

Try explaining anything scientific to your friends -- you soon won't have any.

It depends on who your friends are -- and if someone stopped being my friend due to my attempt to explain something scientific to them, thank goodness that they no longer are. (How the hell is that a rationality quote anyway?)