I would like to warn against these relatively premature judgements, especially in the long scope of history.

Rick Roderick, Hegel and Modern Life

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.

Hermann Göring during the Nuremburg proceedings (18 April 1946)

Dealing with failure is easy: Work hard to improve. Success is also easy to handle: You’ve solved the wrong problem. Work hard to improve.

Alan J. Perlis, Epigrams on Programming (September 1982)

The best way to do something ‘lean’ is to gather a tight group of people, give them very little money, and very little time.

Bob Klein, Tales of the F-14, Air & Space Magazine, 01 September 20061

Conspiracy is optimistic.

Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing, Wired 4.02, Feburary 1996

Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.

Tim O’Reilly, The Oracle of Silicon Valley, Inc. Magazine, 2010-05-01

Upon this, one has to remark that men ought either to be well treated or crushed, because they can avenge themselves of lighter injuries, of more serious ones they cannot; therefore the injury that is to be done to a man ought to be of such a kind that one does not stand in fear of revenge.

Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.

George E.P. Box, Empirical Model-Building and Response Surfaces, 1987

It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than to think your way into a new way of acting.

Millard Fuller

Humans seldom value what they cannot name.

Elaine Brooks, quoted by Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (2006), p. 140

Conventional people are roused to fury by departures from convention, largely because they regard such departures as a criticism of themselves.

Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930), p. 101

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex. (1871), p. 3.

It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.

Albert Einstein, Philosophy of Science, Vol. 1, No. 2 (April 1934), p. 165.

We are already disappearing up our own brainstems.

Geoffrey Miller, The Edge Annual Question — 2006

We are producing higher quality computers than children.

Paul Hawken, review of John Thackara’s In the Bubble: Designing in a Complex World

…we live on a mostly unexplored planet.

[E.O. Wilson, TED2007

Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty — so, obviously, thinking must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom.

Adlai Stevenson II, A Call to Greatness

We must recover the element of quality in our traditional pursuit of equality. We must not, in opening our schools to everyone, confuse the idea that all should have equal chance with the notion that all have equal endowments.

Adlai Stevenson II, (The New York Times, 1958-04-06)

My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.

Adlai Stevenson II, (Detroit campaign speech, 1952)

…death is arguably the single most important driver for all human progress.

John Siracusa

If you are able to state a problem, it can be solved.

Edwin H. Land

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.

George Orwell

He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave.

Andrew Carnegie]37’; ?>

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Grey’s Law

i do not mind the heat. it is, after all, just another thing to feel. and it is certainly more identifiable than everything else i am currenty feeling.

shannon e. thomas

Forget the damned motor car and build the cities for lovers and friends.

Lewis Mumford

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.


I believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine running around doing exercises.

Neil Armstrong

Companies have two choices: Join the conversation or join the conversation later anyway.

Bob Pearson, Dell

Questions about whether design is necessary or affordable are quite beside the point: design is inevitable. The alternative to good design is bad design, not no design at all.

Douglas Martin (Book Design)

The public is more familiar with bad design than good design. It is, in effect, conditioned to prefer bad design, because that is what it lives with. The new becomes threatening, the old reassuring.

Paul Rand (Design, Form, and Chaos)

With respect to the theological view of the question; this is always painful to me.–I am bewildered.–I had no intention to write atheistically. But I own that I cannot see, as plainly as others do, & as I shd wish to do, evidence of design & beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent & omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonidae with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice. Not believing this, I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe & especially the nature of man, & to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance. Not that this notion at all satisfies me …. But the more I think the more bewildered I become; as indeed I have probably shown by this letter.

Charles Darwin, letter to Asa Gray (1860)

Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.

Charles Darwin, Introduction to The Descent of Man (1871)

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Issac Newton

The question of whether computers can think is like the question of whether submarines can swim.

E.W. Dijkstra

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H. L. Mencken

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American middle class.

H. L. Mencken

Whenever you find yourself inventing new piece of technology for an orthogonal part of the stack, it usually means you’re doing something wrong in your layer.

Tantek Çelik

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

Bertrand Russell

ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.

Charles Darwin

It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy.

Steve Jobs, Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple

Here is the ultimatum of our camp: what can be smashed, must be smashed; whatever survives a blow has value, whatever flies to smithereens is rubbish; in any case, smash right and left, it will and can do no harm.

Dmitry I. Pisarev

Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.


Furious activity is no substitute for understanding.

H.H. Williams

Premature optimization is the root of all evil.

Edsger Dijkstra

It is incumbent on us diligently to remember that the kingdom of heaven was promised to the poor in spirit, and that minds afflicted by calamity and the contempt of mankind cheerfully listen to the divine promise of future happiness; while, on the contrary, the fortunate are satisfied with the possession of this world; and the wise abuse in doubt and dispute their vain superiority of reason and knowledge.

Edward Gibbon

  • I believe that religion, generally speaking, has been a curse to mankind - that its modest and greatly overestimated services on the ethical side have been more than overcome by the damage it has done to clear and honest thinking.
  • I believe that no discovery of fact, however trivial, can be wholly useless to the race, and that no trumpeting of falsehood, however virtuous in intent, can be anything but vicious.
  • I believe that all government is evil, in that all government must necessarily make war upon liberty…
  • I believe that the evidence for immortality is no better than the evidence of witches, and deserves no more respect.
  • I believe in the complete freedom of thought and speech…
  • I believe in the capacity of man to conquer his world, and to find out what it is made of, and how it is run.
  • I believe in the reality of progress.
  • I - But the whole thing, after all, may be put very simply. I believe that it is better to tell the truth than to lie. I believe that it is better to be free than to be a slave. And I believe that it is better to know than be ignorant.

H.L. Mencken

If you cant afford to do something right, then be darn sure you can afford to do it wrong.

Charlie Nelson

Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.

Abelson & Sussman, SICP, preface to the first edition

I object to doing things that computers can do.

Olin Shivers

Calvin (& Hobbes)

Why should I have to WORK for everything?! It’s like saying I don’t deserve it!

I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul.”

Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us. Bill Watterson, [Calvin and Hobbes, November 8, 1989][55]
[55]: http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1989/11/08/

I hate to think that all my current experiences will someday become stories with no point. Bill Watterson, [Calvin and Hobbes, May 25, 1995][56]
[56]: http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/1995/05/25/

Do you hate being a girl? What’s it like? Is it like being a bug? I imagine bugs and girls have a dim perception that nature played a cruel trick on them, but they lack the intelligence to comrehend the magnitude of it.

I don’t need to compromise my principles, because they don’t have the slightest bearing on what happens to me anyway.

Oh, great altar of passive entertainment… Bestow upon me thy discordant images at such speed as to render linear thought impossible!

In my opinion, we don’t devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks.

There’s no problem so awful that you can’t add some guilt to it and make it even worse!

So the secret to good self-esteem is to lower your expectations to the point where they’re already met?

When I grow up, I’m not going to read the newspaper and I’m not going to follow complex issues and I’m not going to vote. That way I can complain when the government doesn’t represent me. Then, when everything goes down the tubes, I can say the system doesn’t work and justify my further lack of participation.

You know how people are. They only recognize greatness when some authority confirms it.

History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction. That’s why events are always reinterpreted when values change. We need new versions of history to allow for our current prejudices.

As far as I’m concerned, if something is so complicated that you can’t explain it in 10 seconds, then it’s probably not worth knowing anyway.

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes, January 6, 1989

People think it must be fun to be a super genius, but they don’t realize how hard it is to put up with all the idiots in the world.

I’M SIGNIFICANT!…screamed the dust speck.