TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®  •  TODAYINSCI ®
Celebrating 24 Years on the Web
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “I was going to record talking... the foil was put on; I then shouted 'Mary had a little lamb',... and the machine reproduced it perfectly.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index M > Herbert Marshall McLuhan Quotes

Thumbnail of Herbert Marshall McLuhan (source)
Herbert Marshall McLuhan
(21 Jul 1911 - 31 Dec 1980)

Canadian author and communications theorist known for his works in media analysis. The book he published in 1964, Understanding Media, brought him to prominence. He was critical about mankind’s shuffling toward the twenty-first century in the shackles of nineteenth century perceptions. He originated the expressions of “the global village” and “the medium is the message.”

Science Quotes by Herbert Marshall McLuhan (21 quotes)

Video still of Herbert Marshall McLuhan, upper body, facing half-left, color, during lecture in Australia
(Jun 1979) (source)
Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In 'The New Education', The Basilian Teacher (1967), 11, No. 2, 68, as quoted and cited in Matteo Ciastellardi and Emanuela Patti (eds.), Article by Robert K. Logan, 'McLuhan Misunderstood: Setting the Record Straight, Section 8, 'McLuhan’s One Liners Clarified', International Journal of McLuhan Studies: Understanding Media, Today. McLuhan in the Era of Convergence Culture (2011). Logan explains this quote as: “What McLuhan was saying was simply that in the electric age of information overload in which there are so many distractions one has to keep students entertained to hold their attention so as to educate them or turned around; students educate themselves by entertaining themselves. … The proof of this assertion is that the most effective teachers and professors are the ones that are the most entertaining, i.e. most able to hold the attention of their students.”
Science quotes on:  |  Anyone (38)  |  Distinction (72)  |  Education (423)  |  Entertainment (19)  |  First (1302)  |  Know (1538)  |  Thing (1914)  |  Try (296)

Before the printing press, the young learned by listening, watching, doing.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In 'Classroom Without Walls', Explorations (May 1957), No. 7. Collected in Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan (eds.), Explorations in Communication, an Anthology (1960), 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Doing (277)  |  Learn (672)  |  Learned (235)  |  Listen (81)  |  Listening (26)  |  Printing (25)  |  Printing Press (5)  |  Watch (118)  |  Young (253)

Education in a technological world of replaceable and expendable parts is neuter. Technology needs not people or minds but “hands.”
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (1967) 53.
Science quotes on:  |  Education (423)  |  Hand (149)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Need (320)  |  Part (235)  |  People (1031)  |  Technology (281)  |  World (1850)

Genuine science, of course, is neutral. But its practical effects, when harnessed to the appetites of the market, are something less than neutral. Heartbeats are human, but when harnessed to a public-address system, they can be terrifying. Ordinary human appetites for comfort, prestige, or power have in history been troublesome enough, but when they are given exaggerated expression by means of applied science they promise swift destruction.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (1967), 93.
Science quotes on:  |  Appetite (20)  |  Applied Science (36)  |  Comfort (64)  |  Destruction (135)  |  Effect (414)  |  Exaggerate (7)  |  Expression (181)  |  Genuine (54)  |  Harness (25)  |  History (716)  |  Human (1512)  |  Market (23)  |  Means (587)  |  Neutral (15)  |  Ordinary (167)  |  Power (771)  |  Practical (225)  |  Prestige (16)  |  Promise (72)  |  Swift (16)  |  System (545)  |  Terrify (12)  |  Trouble (117)

If it works, it’s obsolete.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
Essential McLuhan (1996), 155.
Science quotes on:  |  Obsolete (15)  |  Work (1402)

It is critical vision alone which can mitigate the unimpeded operation of the automatic.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (1967) 87.
Science quotes on:  |  Alone (324)  |  Automatic (16)  |  Critical (73)  |  Mitigate (5)  |  Operation (221)  |  Unimpeded (2)  |  Vision (127)

It is not possession of the solution, but the recognition of the problem itself that provides a resource and the answers.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In Take Today: The Executive as Dropout (1972), 92.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (389)  |  Possession (68)  |  Problem (731)  |  Provide (79)  |  Recognition (93)  |  Resource (74)  |  Solution (282)

It is only necessary to check the comic books and Reader’s Digest to see the extent of the influence of applied science on the popular imagination. How much it is used to provide an atmosphere of endless thrill and excitement, quite apart from its accidental menace or utility, one can decide from such typical daily headlines as these:
London, March 10, 1947, Reuters: ROCKET TO MOON SEEN POSSIBLE BUT THOUSANDS TO DIE IN ATTEMPT
Cleveland, January 5, 1948.: LIFE SPAN OF 100, BE YOUNG AT 80, ATOM PREDICTION
Washington, June 11, 1947: SCIENTISTS AWAIT COW’S DEATH TO SOLVE MATHEMATICS PROBLEM
Needham Market, Suffolk, England. (U.P.): VICAR PROPOSES BABIES FOR YEARNING SPINSTERS, TEST-TUBE BABIES WILL PRODUCE ROBOTS
Washington, D.C., January 3, 1948. U.S. FLYER PASSING SONIC BARRIER OPENS NEW VISTAS OF DESTRUCTION ONE OF BRAVEST ACTS IN HISTORY
Those headlines represent “human interest” attempts to gear science to the human nervous system.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (1967), 93.
Science quotes on:  |  Accidental (31)  |  Act (278)  |  Applied Science (36)  |  Atmosphere (117)  |  Atom (381)  |  Attempt (266)  |  Await (6)  |  Baby (29)  |  Brave (16)  |  Check (26)  |  Cow (42)  |  Daily (91)  |  Death (406)  |  Decide (50)  |  Destruction (135)  |  Die (94)  |  Endless (60)  |  Excitement (61)  |  Extent (142)  |  Gear (5)  |  Headline (8)  |  History (716)  |  Imagination (349)  |  Influence (231)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Menace (7)  |  Moon (252)  |  Necessary (370)  |  Nervous System (35)  |  New (1273)  |  Open (277)  |  Popular (34)  |  Possible (560)  |  Prediction (89)  |  Problem (731)  |  Produce (117)  |  Propose (24)  |  Provide (79)  |  Represent (157)  |  Robot (14)  |  Rocket (52)  |  Science (39)  |  Scientist (881)  |  Solve (145)  |  Test Tube Baby (2)  |  Thousand (340)  |  Thrill (26)  |  Typical (16)  |  Utility (52)  |  Vista (12)  |  Yearning (13)  |  Young (253)

It’s always been true that whatever pleases teaches more efficiently.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In 'Classroom Without Walls', Explorations (May 1957), No. 7. Collected in Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan (eds.), Explorations in Communication, an Anthology (1960), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Efficient (34)  |  More (2558)  |  Please (68)  |  Teach (299)  |  True (239)  |  Whatever (234)

It’s misleading to suppose there’s any basic difference between education & entertainment. This distinction merely relieves people of the responsibility of looking into the matter.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In 'Classroom Without Walls', Explorations (May 1957), No. 7. Collected in Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan (eds.), Explorations in Communication, an Anthology (1960), 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Basic (144)  |  Difference (355)  |  Distinction (72)  |  Education (423)  |  Entertainment (19)  |  Looking (191)  |  Matter (821)  |  Merely (315)  |  Mislead (6)  |  Misleading (21)  |  People (1031)  |  Responsibility (71)  |  Suppose (158)

Narration by flashback is now used by almost all novelists… The method of the sleuth does have some relation to contemporary science as well as to art. One of the procedures in modern chemical research, for example, is to take a compound or a chemical reaction and then to work backwards from that to the formula which will produce that compound or reaction.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (1967), 106.
Science quotes on:  |  Art (680)  |  Backward (10)  |  Chemical Reaction (17)  |  Chemistry (376)  |  Compound (117)  |  Contemporary (33)  |  Formula (102)  |  Method (531)  |  Modern (402)  |  Novelist (9)  |  Procedure (48)  |  Produce (117)  |  Reaction (106)  |  Relation (166)  |  Research (753)  |  Science (39)  |  Work (1402)

Only puny secrets need protection. Great discoveries are protected by public incredulity.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In Take Today: The Executive as Dropout (1972), 92.
Science quotes on:  |  Discovery (837)  |  Great (1610)  |  Incredulity (5)  |  Need (320)  |  Protect (65)  |  Protection (41)  |  Public (100)  |  Puny (8)  |  Secret (216)

Ours is a brand-new world of allatonceness [all-at-once-ness]. “Time” has ceased, “space” has vanished. We now live in a global village … a simultaneous happening. … The new electronic interdependence recreates the world in the image of a global village.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
Co-author with Quentin Fiore, in The Medium is the Massage (1967), 63-67.
Science quotes on:  |  Global (39)  |  Happening (59)  |  Image (97)  |  Live (650)  |  New (1273)  |  Simultaneous (23)  |  Space (523)  |  Time (1911)  |  Village (13)  |  World (1850)

Scientists become as irrational and panicky as any other group when their basic tenets are questioned.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In Take Today: The Executive as Dropout (1972), 125.
Science quotes on:  |  Basic (144)  |  Irrational (16)  |  Panic (4)  |  Question (649)  |  Scientist (881)  |  Tenet (3)

Superman corresponds to the medieval speculations about the nature of angels. The economist Werner Sombart argued that modern abstract finance and mathematical science was a realization at the material level of the elaborate speculations of medieval philosophy. In the same way it could be argued that Superman is the comic-strip brother of the medieval angels. For the angels, as explained by Thomas Aquinas, are quite superior to time or space, yet can exert a local and material energy of superhuman kind.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man (1967), 103.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (141)  |  Angel (47)  |  Saint Thomas Aquinas (18)  |  Argue (25)  |  Brother (47)  |  Correspond (13)  |  Economist (20)  |  Elaborate (31)  |  Energy (373)  |  Exert (40)  |  Explain (334)  |  Finance (4)  |  Level (69)  |  Local (25)  |  Material (366)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Medieval (12)  |  Modern (402)  |  Nature (2017)  |  Philosophy (409)  |  Realization (44)  |  Same (166)  |  Space (523)  |  Speculation (137)  |  Superhuman (6)  |  Superior (88)  |  Superman (4)  |  Time (1911)

The answers are always inside the problem, not outside.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
(Attributed ??) This quote is often seen, but without a citation, even on the official Marshall McLuhan website. If you known a primary print source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (389)  |  Inside (30)  |  Outside (141)  |  Problem (731)

The atom could not be split until it was regarded as a problem.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In Take Today: The Executive as Dropout (1972), 92.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (381)  |  Problem (731)  |  Split (15)

The electric age ... established a global network that has much the character of our central nervous system.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man? (2nd Ed.,1964), 302.
Science quotes on:  |  Age (509)  |  Central (81)  |  Character (259)  |  Electric (76)  |  Electricity (168)  |  Global (39)  |  Nerve (82)  |  Nervous System (35)  |  Network (21)  |  System (545)

The medium is the message.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
Understanding Media (1964), title of Chapter 1.
Science quotes on:  |  Medium (15)  |  Message (53)

We look at the present through a rear-view mirror.
We march backwards into the future.
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
In The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects (1996),
Science quotes on:  |  Backwards (18)  |  Future (467)  |  March (48)  |  Mirror (43)  |  Present (630)  |  Rear-View (2)

Why is it so easy to acquire the solutions of past problems and so difficult to solve current ones
— Herbert Marshall McLuhan
(Attributed ??) This quote is often seen, but without a citation, even on the official Marshall McLuhan website. If you known a primary print source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Acquisition (46)  |  Current (122)  |  Difficult (263)  |  Difficulty (201)  |  Easy (213)  |  Past (355)  |  Problem (731)  |  Solution (282)  |  Solution. (53)  |  Solve (145)  |  Why (491)


See also:

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
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Thank you for sharing.
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.