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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index B > Luther Burbank Quotes

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Luther Burbank
(7 Mar 1849 - 11 Apr 1926)

American naturalist and horticulturist who was a pioneer of plant breeding. At age 21, he produced the the Burbank potato. Thus he began a 55 year career, prodigiously producing useful varieties of fruits, flowers, vegetables, grains, and grasses.


Science Quotes by Luther Burbank (13 quotes)

Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine for the soul and can never be taken in overdoses.
— Luther Burbank
From Paper (18 Jun 1901), read before the California Academy of Sciences, published in 'The Making of New Flowers', American Gardening (13 Jul 1901), 22, No. 342, 489.
Science quotes on:  |  Better (488)  |  Flower (106)  |  Food (199)  |  Happy (105)  |  Heath (5)  |  Helpful (16)  |  Medicine (378)  |  More (2559)  |  Never (1087)  |  People (1005)  |  Soul (227)  |  Sunshine (10)

For those who do not think, it is best at least to rearrange their prejudices once in a while.
— Luther Burbank
As quoted in Forbes (1948). 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Best (459)  |  Do (1908)  |  Prejudice (88)  |  Rearrange (5)  |  Think (1086)

It is well for people who think to change their minds occasionally in order to keep them clean.
— Luther Burbank
As quoted in Forbes (1948). 42.
Science quotes on:  |  Change (595)  |  Clean (50)  |  Mind (1339)  |  Order (632)  |  People (1005)  |  Think (1086)

Men should stop fighting among themselves and start fighting insects.
— Luther Burbank
In George Seldes, The Great Quotations (1960), 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Crop (25)  |  Insect (79)  |  Start (221)  |  Themselves (433)  |  War (226)

No occupation requires more accuracy, foresight and skill than does scientific plant or animal breeding.
— Luther Burbank
From Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the American Breeders’ Association, at Columbia, Mo. (5-8 January 1909). In 'Another Mode of Species Forming', Popular Science Monthly (Sep 1909), 75, 265.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (78)  |  Animal (617)  |  Breeding (21)  |  Foresight (6)  |  More (2559)  |  Occupation (48)  |  Plant (295)  |  Require (219)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Skill (109)

Only a few years ago, it was generally supposed that by crossing two somewhat different species or varieties a mongrel might be produced which might, or more likely might not, surpass its parents. The fact that crossing was only the first step and that selection from the numerous variations secured in the second and a few succeeding generations was the real work of new plant creation had never been appreciated; and to-day its significance is not fully understood either by breeders or even by many scientific investigators along these very lines.
— Luther Burbank
From Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the American Breeders’ Association, at Columbia, Mo. (5-8 January 1909). In 'Another Mode of Species Forming', Popular Science Monthly (Sep 1909), 75, 264-265.
Science quotes on:  |  Appreciate (63)  |  Breeder (2)  |  Creation (329)  |  Cross (16)  |  Different (577)  |  Fact (1212)  |  First (1284)  |  First Step (3)  |  Generation (242)  |  Hard Work (21)  |  Investigator (67)  |  More (2559)  |  Never (1087)  |  New (1217)  |  Numerous (68)  |  Parent (76)  |  Plant (295)  |  Produce (104)  |  Produced (187)  |  Scientific (940)  |  Secure (22)  |  Secured (18)  |  Selection (128)  |  Significance (113)  |  Species (402)  |  Step (231)  |  Succeeding (14)  |  Supposition (50)  |  Surpass (32)  |  Two (937)  |  Understand (607)  |  Understood (156)  |  Variation (90)  |  Variety (133)  |  Work (1351)  |  Year (932)

Plant breeding to be successful must be conducted like architecture. Definite plans must be carefully laid for the proposed creation; suitable materials selected with judgment, and these must he securely placed in their proper order and position.
— Luther Burbank
From Paper read at the Annual Meeting of the American Breeders’ Association, at Columbia, Mo. (5-8 January 1909). In 'Another Mode of Species Forming', Popular Science Monthly (Sep 1909), 75, 265.
Science quotes on:  |  Architecture (48)  |  Breed (24)  |  Breeding (21)  |  Carefully (65)  |  Conduct (69)  |  Creation (329)  |  Definite (110)  |  Judgment (132)  |  Material (353)  |  Must (1526)  |  Order (632)  |  Place (177)  |  Plan (117)  |  Plant (295)  |  Position (77)  |  Proper (145)  |  Select (44)  |  Success (303)  |  Successful (123)  |  Suitable (8)

Science is knowledge arranged and classified according to truth, facts, and the general laws of nature.
— Luther Burbank
Interview in San Francisco Bulletin (22 Jan 1926). As cited in Michael C. and Linda Rose Thomsett, A Speaker's Treasury of Quotations: Maxims, Witticisms and Quips for Speeches and Presentations (2009), 102-103. Also in 'Science and Civilization', Prescott Evening Courier (3 Nov 1925), 6.
Science quotes on:  |  According (237)  |  Arrangement (91)  |  Classification (97)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Facts (553)  |  General (511)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Law (895)  |  Nature (1928)  |  Science (3880)  |  Truth (1062)

Several of my young acquaintances are in their graves who gave promise of making happy and useful citizens and there is no question whatever that cigarettes alone were the cause of their destruction. No boy living would commence the use of cigarettes if he knew what a useless, soulless, worthless thing they would make of him.
— Luther Burbank
Quoted in Henry Ford, The Case Against the Little White Slaver (1914), Vol. 1, 20.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquaintance (37)  |  Alone (312)  |  Boy (94)  |  Cause (542)  |  Cigarette (24)  |  Citizen (51)  |  Commencement (14)  |  Destruction (125)  |  Grave (52)  |  Happy (105)  |  Knowledge (1536)  |  Life (1799)  |  Living (491)  |  Making (300)  |  Promise (68)  |  Question (622)  |  Soul (227)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Use (766)  |  Useful (250)  |  Usefulness (87)  |  Uselessness (22)  |  Whatever (234)  |  Worthless (21)  |  Young (228)  |  Youth (103)

The chief work of the botanists of yesterday was the study and classification of dried, shriveled plant mummies whose souls had fled.
— Luther Burbank
From Paper (18 Jun 1901), read before the California Academy of Sciences, published in 'The Making of New Flowers', American Gardening (13 Jul 1901), 22, No. 342, 489.
Science quotes on:  |  Botanist (23)  |  Chief (97)  |  Classification (97)  |  Dry (58)  |  Flee (8)  |  Mummy (7)  |  Plant (295)  |  Soul (227)  |  Study (656)  |  Work (1351)  |  Yesterday (36)

The scientist is a lover of truth for the very love of truth itself, wherever it may lead.
— Luther Burbank
Quoted in Dr. D. M. Brooks, The Necessity of Atheism (1933), 341.
Science quotes on:  |  Lead (385)  |  Love (309)  |  Scientist (825)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Wherever (51)

Those who take refuge behind theological barbed wire fences, quite often wish they could have more freedom of thought, but fear the change to the great ocean of truth as they would a cold bath.
— Luther Burbank
Quoted in Dr. D. M. Brooks, The Necessity of Atheism (1933), 341.
Science quotes on:  |  Barbed Wire (2)  |  Bath (10)  |  Behind (137)  |  Change (595)  |  Cold (112)  |  Fear (199)  |  Fence (11)  |  Freedom (129)  |  Great (1575)  |  More (2559)  |  Ocean (203)  |  Refuge (15)  |  Theology (53)  |  Thought (954)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Wire (35)  |  Wish (212)

Those who would legislate against the teaching of evolution should also legislate against gravity, electricity and the unreasonable velocity of light, and also should introduce a clause to prevent the use of the telescope, the microscope and the spectroscope or any other instrument of precision which may in the future be invented, constructed or used for the discovery of truth.
— Luther Burbank
In 'Science and Civilization', Prescott Evening Courier (3 Nov 1925), 6.
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Quotes by others about Luther Burbank (1)

Modern war, even from the consideration of physical welfare, is not creative. Soldiers and civilians alike are supposed to put on mental khaki. … War means the death of that fertile war which consists of the free, restless conflict of ideas. The war which matters is that of the scientist with nature; of the farmer with the tawny desert; of … philosopher against … mob stupidity. Such war is creative. … Inventions that further life and joy; freedom; new knowledge, whether Luther Burbank’s about the breeding of fruits or Einstein's about relativity; great cathedrals and Beethoven's music: these modern mechanical war can destroy but never produce. At its most inventive height, war creates the Maxim gun, the submarine, disseminable germs of disease, life-blasting gases. Spiritually and intellectually, modern war is not creative.
From ‘The Stagnation of War’, in Allen D. Hole (ed.) The Messenger of Peace (Nov 1924), 49, No. 11, 162-163.
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See also:
  • 7 Mar - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Burbank's birth.
  • How to Produce New Flowers - Read by Luther Burbank to the Pacific States Floral Congress (14 May 1901)
  • New Creations in Plant Life: An Authoritative Account of the Life and Work of Luther Burbank, by W. S. Harwood. - book suggestion.

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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