I asked myself on behalf of the oracle, whether I would like to be as I was, neither having their knowledge nor their ignorance, or like them in both; and I made answer to myself and to the oracle that I was better off as I was.

Socrates, Plato's Apology

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, Nuremburg proceedings , April 18, 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, September 2006 , September 1, 2006

A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked. A complex system designed from scratch never works and cannot be patched up to make it work. You have to start over with a working simple system.

John Gall, Systemantics: How Systems Really Work and How They Fail.

Conspiracy is optimistic.

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

To design something really well, you have to get it. You have to really grok what it's all about. It takes a passionate commitment to really thoroughly understand something, chew it up, not just quickly swallow it. Most people don't take the time to do that. Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That's because they were able to connect experiences they've had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they've had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people. Unfortunately, that's too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven't had very diverse experiences. So they don't have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one's understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have.

Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs: The Next Insanely Great Thing, Wired 4.02 , February 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 , May 1, 2010

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 in Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder , 2003

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

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

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

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

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 , April 6, 1958

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

Adlai Stevenson II, Detroit campaign speech , 1952

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

Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.

Grey's Law

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

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: A Practical Introduction

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

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

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.

E.W. Dijkstra, oral history

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

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

Charlie Nelson

I object to doing things that computers can do.

Olin Shivers

People on a design team must be as happy to be wrong as right. If their ideas hold up under strong (but fair) criticism, then great, they can proceed with confidence. If their ideas are rejected with good rationale, then they have learned something. A healthy team is made up of people who have the attitude that it is better to learn something new than to be right.

Bill Buxton, Sketching User Experiences

Without aesthetic, design is either the humdrum repetition of familiar clichés or a wild scramble for novelty. Without the aesthetic, the computer is but a mindless speed machine, producing effects without substance. Form without relevant content, or content without meaningful form.

Paul Rand

Repressive forces don’t stop people expressing themselves but rather force them to express themselves; What a relief to have nothing to say, the right to say nothing, because only then is there a chance of framing the rare, and ever rarer, thing that might be worth saying.

Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, 1972-1990

The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

Alberto Brandolini, Twitter , January 11, 2013

Zorg goed voor onze stad en voor elkaar.

Eberhard van der Laan, Letter to Amsterdammers , September 18, 2017

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

E. B. White

This volume does not aspire to the name of an autobiography. It relates a variety of isolated circumstances in which I have taken part…

Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher , 1864

Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.

Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

I hate to think that all my current experiences will someday become stories with no point.

Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes , May 25, 1995

Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyhow.

Elbert Hubbard, The Motto Book , 1907

I judge you unfortunate because you have never been unfortunate; you have passed through life without an antagonist; no one will know what you can do, not even yourself.

Lucius Annasus Seneca, De Providentia