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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index S > George Bernard Shaw Quotes

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George Bernard Shaw
(26 Jul 1856 - 2 Nov 1950)

Irish playwright and novelist who wrote more than sixty plays, including Pygmalion (1912), the basis of the Lerner and Loewe's musical, My Fair Lady (1956). He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.

Science Quotes by George Bernard Shaw (34 quotes)

The Devil: Reformers … will thrust you first into religion, where you will sprinkle water on babies to save their souls from me ; then it will drive you from religion into science, where you will snatch the babies from the water sprinkling and inoculate them with disease to save them from catching it accidentally.
— George Bernard Shaw
In Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy (1903), 135.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (37)  |  Baby (9)  |  Devil (12)  |  Disease (192)  |  Inoculation (6)  |  Reformer (3)  |  Science And Religion (195)  |  Soul (68)  |  Vaccination (5)  |  Water (165)

A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Education', in Man and Superman (1903), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (223)  |  Philosophy (163)  |  Superstition (40)

A learned man is an idler who kills time with study. Beware of his false knowledge: it is more dangerous than ignorance.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Education', in Man and Superman (1905), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Beware (6)  |  Dangerous (16)  |  False (42)  |  Ignorance (141)  |  Kill (18)  |  Knowledge (853)  |  Learned (13)  |  Study (227)  |  Time (234)

Activity is the only road to knowledge.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Education', in Man and Superman (1905), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Activity (56)  |  Knowledge (853)

Civilization is a disease produced by the practice of building societies with rotten material.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Civilization', in Man and Superman (1903), 241.
Science quotes on:  |  Civilization (114)

Every fool believes what his teachers tell him, and calls his credulity science or morality as confidently as his father called it divine revelation.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Education', in Man and Superman (1905), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Credulity (7)  |  Education (223)  |  Teacher (66)

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Education', in Man and Superman (1903), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Teacher (66)

I hear you say “Why?” Always “Why?” But I dream things that never were; and I say “Why not?”
— George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah: a Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), 6. Often seen attributed to John F. Kennedy or Bobby Kennedy who restated this quote as “Some look at things that are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”
Science quotes on:  |  Ask (27)  |  Dream (47)  |  Look (37)  |  Why (6)

I prefer the man who calls his nonsense a mystery to him who who pretends it is a weighed, measured, analyzed fact.
— George Bernard Shaw
In Evan Esar, 20,000 Quips and Quotes, 704.
Science quotes on:  |  Science And Religion (195)

In 1906 I indulged my temper by hurling invectives at Neo-Darwinians in the following terms. “I really do not wish to be abusive [to Neo-Darwinians]; but when I think of these poor little dullards, with their precarious hold of just that corner of evolution that a blackbeetle can understand—with their retinue of twopenny-halfpenny Torquemadas wallowing in the infamies of the vivisector’s laboratory, and solemnly offering us as epoch-making discoveries their demonstrations that dogs get weaker and die if you give them no food; that intense pain makes mice sweat; and that if you cut off a dog’s leg the three-legged dog will have a four-legged puppy, I ask myself what spell has fallen on intelligent and humane men that they allow themselves to be imposed on by this rabble of dolts, blackguards, imposters, quacks, liars, and, worst of all, credulous conscientious fools.”
— George Bernard Shaw
In Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), lxi
Science quotes on:  |  Abuse (4)  |  Conscientious (2)  |  Credulity (7)  |  Cut (22)  |  Death (216)  |  Demonstration (43)  |  Discovery (470)  |  Dog (29)  |  Dullard (2)  |  Evolution (375)  |  Fool (43)  |  Humane (4)  |  Impostor (2)  |  Inquisitor (4)  |  Intelligence (98)  |  Leg (10)  |  Liar (4)  |  Mouse (20)  |  Pain (65)  |  Quack (10)  |  Starvation (6)  |  Sweat (10)  |  Temper (2)  |  Understanding (291)  |  Weakening (2)

In the arts of life main invents nothing; but in the arts of death he outdoes Nature herself, and produces by chemistry and machinery all the slaughter of plague, pestilence and famine. … There is nothing in Man's industrial machinery but his greed and sloth: his heart is in his weapons.
— George Bernard Shaw
Play, Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy (1903)
Science quotes on:  |  Chemistry (185)  |  Death (216)  |  Industry (66)  |  Machine (79)  |  Nature (670)  |  Plague (30)  |  Weapon (44)

It is the inefficiency and sham of … our schools … that save us from being dashed on the rocks of false doctrine instead of drifting down the midstream of mere ignorance.
— George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), xii-xiii.
Science quotes on:  |  Doctrine (35)  |  Ignorance (141)  |  School (50)

Life levels all men: death reveals the eminent.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Fame', in Man and Superman (1903), 240.
Science quotes on:  |  Achievement (93)  |  Death (216)

Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Experience', in Man and Superman (1903), 239.
Science quotes on:  |  Experience (167)  |  Wisdom (107)

No man can be a pure specialist without being in the strict sense an idiot.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Education', in Man and Superman (1905), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Idiot (10)  |  Specialist (11)

One touch of Darwin makes the whole world kin.
— George Bernard Shaw
A section title, in Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), lxiv.
Science quotes on:  |  Kin (6)

Science becomes dangerous only when it imagines that it has reached its goal.
— George Bernard Shaw
In Preface to the play, The Doctor's Dilemma (1911), xc.
Science quotes on:  |  Danger (43)  |  Goal (47)  |  Imagination (168)  |  Reach (34)  |  Science (1103)

The educated man is a greater nuisance than the uneducated one.
— George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), xii.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (223)  |  Nuisance (2)

The man who listens to Reason is lost: Reason enslaves all whose minds are not strong enough to master her.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Reason', in Man and Superman (1903), 238.
Science quotes on:  |  Mind (334)  |  Reason (211)  |  Slave (13)

The most revolutionary invention of the XIX century was the artificial sterilization of marriage.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Marriage, Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy (1903), 231.
Science quotes on:  |  19th Century (16)  |  Artificial (18)  |  Invention (213)  |  Marriage (27)  |  Revolutionary (9)

The power that produced Man when the monkey was not up to the mark, can produce a higher creature than Man if Man does not come up to the mark. What it means is that if Man is to be saved, Man must save himself. There seems no compelling reason why he should be saved. He is by no means an ideal creature. At his present best many of his ways are so unpleasant that they are unmentionable in polite society, and so painful that he is compelled to pretend that pain is often a good. Nature holds no brief for the human experiment: it must stand or fall by its results. If Man will not serve, Nature will try another experiment.
— George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah: a Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), xvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Another (7)  |  Best (68)  |  Brief (9)  |  Compelling (6)  |  Creature (65)  |  Experiment (457)  |  Fall (43)  |  Good (111)  |  Higher (22)  |  Himself (10)  |  Human (220)  |  Ideal (32)  |  Man (288)  |  Mark (20)  |  Monkey (27)  |  Nature (670)  |  Pain (65)  |  Pleasant (8)  |  Polite (4)  |  Power (144)  |  Present (58)  |  Pretend (5)  |  Production (80)  |  Reason (211)  |  Result (164)  |  Save (17)  |  Serve (17)  |  Society (106)  |  Stand (29)

The pre-Darwinian age had come to be regarded as a Dark Age in which men still believed that the book of Genesis was a standard scientific treatise, and that the only additions to it were Galileo's demonstration of Leonardo da Vinci’s simple remark that the earth is a moon of the sun, Newton’s theory of gravitation, Sir Humphry Davy's invention of the safety-lamp, the discovery of electricity, the application of steam to industrial purposes, and the penny post.
— George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah: a Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), viii.
Science quotes on:  |  Addition (13)  |  Application (86)  |  Belief (204)  |  Dark Ages (7)  |  Charles Darwin (226)  |  Leonardo da Vinci (27)  |  Sir Humphry Davy (40)  |  Demonstration (43)  |  Discovery (470)  |  Earth (303)  |  Electricity (90)  |  Galileo Galilei (68)  |  Genesis (10)  |  Industry (66)  |  Invention (213)  |  Man (288)  |  Moon (92)  |  Sir Isaac Newton (213)  |  Penny (3)  |  Post (2)  |  Purpose (93)  |  Remark (10)  |  Safety Lamp (3)  |  Standard (24)  |  Steam (19)  |  Steam Power (2)  |  Sun (131)  |  Theory Of Gravitation (5)  |  Treatise (11)

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Reason', in Man and Superman (1903), 238.
Science quotes on:  |  Progress (249)  |  Reason (211)

There is at bottom only one genuinely scientific treatment for all diseases, and that is to stimulate the phagocytes.
— George Bernard Shaw
The Doctor’s Dilemma: A Tragedy (1913), 112.
Science quotes on:  |  Disease (192)  |  Treatment (67)

Those who admire modern civilization usually identify it with the steam engine and the electric telegraph.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Civilization', in Man and Superman (1903), 241.
Science quotes on:  |  Civilization (114)  |  Steam Engine (30)  |  Telegraph (26)

Those who understand the steam engine and the electric telegraph spend their lives in trying to replace them with something better.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Civilization', in Man and Superman (1903), 241.
Science quotes on:  |  Invention (213)  |  Steam Engine (30)  |  Telegraph (26)

To a mathematician the eleventh means only a single unit: to the bushman who cannot count further than his ten fingers it is an incalculable myriad.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Greatness', in Man and Superman (1903), 236.
Science quotes on:  |  Mathematician (134)  |  Number (114)

Tyndall declared that he saw in Matter the promise and potency of all forms of life, and with his Irish graphic lucidity made a picture of a world of magnetic atoms, each atom with a positive and a negative pole, arranging itself by attraction and repulsion in orderly crystalline structure. Such a picture is dangerously fascinating to thinkers oppressed by the bloody disorders of the living world. Craving for purer subjects of thought, they find in the contemplation of crystals and magnets a happiness more dramatic and less childish than the happiness found by mathematicians in abstract numbers, because they see in the crystals beauty and movement without the corrupting appetites of fleshly vitality.
— George Bernard Shaw
In Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), lxi-lxii.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (188)  |  Attraction (27)  |  Beauty (125)  |  Crystal (38)  |  Magnetism (23)  |  Matter (169)  |  Negative (13)  |  Pole (10)  |  Positive (14)  |  Repulsion (3)  |  Structure (133)  |  John Tyndall (44)

Very nice sort of place, Oxford, I should think, for people that like that sort of place. They teach you to be a gentleman there. In the polytechnic they teach you to be an engineer or such like. See?
— George Bernard Shaw
Man and Superman: A Comedy and a Philosophy (1903), Act 2, 50.
Science quotes on:  |  Engineer (51)  |  Gentleman (9)  |  Oxford (4)  |  Teaching (84)

We call the one side [of humanity] religion, and we call the other science. Religion is always right. ... Science is always wrong; it is the very artifice of men. Science can never solve one problem without raising ten more problems.
— George Bernard Shaw
Speech at the Einstein Dinner, Savoy Hotel, London (28 Oct 1930). Reproduced in George Bernard Shaw and Warren Sylvester Smith (ed.), The Religious Speeches of George Bernard Shaw (1963), 83.
Science quotes on:  |  Artifice (2)  |  Humanity (58)  |  Problem (234)  |  Science (1103)  |  Science And Religion (195)  |  Solution (131)  |  Wrong (63)

When a man teaches something he does not know to somebody else who has no aptitude for it, and gives him a certificate of proficiency, the latter has completed the education of a gentleman.
— George Bernard Shaw
'Maxims for Revolutionists: Education', in Man and Superman (1903), 229-230.
Science quotes on:  |  Aptitude (8)  |  Certificate (2)  |  Education (223)

Where there is no knowledge ignorance calls itself science.
— George Bernard Shaw
In 'Maxims for Revolutionists: Stray Sayings', in Man and Superman (1903), 242.
Science quotes on:  |  Ignorance (141)  |  Knowledge (853)

You can be a thorough-going Neo-Darwinian without imagination, metaphysics, poetry, conscience, or decency. For “Natural Selection” has no moral significance: it deals with that part of evolution which has no purpose, no intelligence, and might more appropriately be called accidental selection, or better still, Unnatural Selection, since nothing is more unnatural than an accident. If it could be proved that the whole universe had been produced by such Selection, only fools and rascals could bear to live.
— George Bernard Shaw
Back to Methuselah: A Metabiological Pentateuch (1921), lxi-lxii.
Science quotes on:  |  Accident (37)  |  Appropriateness (5)  |  Conscience (20)  |  Charles Darwin (226)  |  Decency (2)  |  Evolution (375)  |  Fool (43)  |  Imagination (168)  |  Intelligence (98)  |  Life (588)  |  Metaphysics (28)  |  Moral (55)  |  Natural Selection (60)  |  Poetry (75)  |  Production (80)  |  Proof (160)  |  Purpose (93)  |  Selection (23)  |  Significance (38)  |  Universe (339)  |  Unnatural (7)

You propound a complicated arithmetical problem: say cubing a number containing four digits. Give me a slate and half an hour's time, and I can produce a wrong answer.
— George Bernard Shaw
Cashel Byron's Profession (1886, 1901), xxiii.
Science quotes on:  |  Arithmetic (49)  |  Cube (9)  |  Mathematics (450)  |  Problem (234)  |  Solution (131)


Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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