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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index P > Terry Pratchett Quotes

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Terry Pratchett
(28 Apr 1948 - 21 Mar 2015)

English author who has been publishing comic fantasy and science fiction novels since 1971, and was Britain's best-selling author of the 1990s. In his youth he was interested in astronomy and owned a telescope. His books include Discworld, Guards! Guards! and Good Omens. Many of his works were adapted as serials on BBC Radio 4 and staged in theatre productions.

Science Quotes by Terry Pratchett (23 quotes)

SCIENCE: a way of finding things out and then making them work. Science explains what is happening around us the whole time. So does RELIGION, but science is better because it comes up with more understandable excuses when it's wrong.
— Terry Pratchett
Wings (1990, 2007), 147.
Science quotes on:  |  Science And Religion (267)

A rock has no detectable opinion about gravity.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 10, footnote.
Science quotes on:  |  Gravity (89)  |  Opinion (146)  |  Rock (107)

At least I know I’m bewildered about the really fundamental and important facts of the universe.
— Terry Pratchett
Equal Rites (1987)
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (609)  |  Universe (563)

DNA that used to have some function way back in evolution but currently does not (and might possibly be revived if, say, an ancient parasite reappeared), DNA that controls how genes switch their protein manufacturing on and off, DNA that controls those, and so on. Some may actually be genuine junk. And some (so the joke goes) may encode a message like ‘It was me, I’m God, I existed all along, ha ha.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 218.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (68)  |  Control (93)  |  DNA (67)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Exist (89)  |  Function (90)  |  Gene (68)  |  God (454)  |  Joke (39)  |  Junk (4)  |  Manufacturing (21)  |  Message (30)  |  Parasite (28)  |  Protein (43)  |  Reappear (2)  |  Science And Religion (267)  |  Switch (7)

Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?
— Terry Pratchett
In Going Postal (2004, 2009), 101.
Science quotes on:  |  Dead (45)  |  Name (118)  |  Spoken (2)

Every so often, you have to unlearn what you thought you already knew, and replace it by something more subtle.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 44.
Science quotes on:  |  Replace (16)  |  Subtle (26)  |  Unlearn (5)

I don’t believe in evolution, like people believe in God … Science and technology are not advanced by people who believe, but by people who don’t know but are doing their best to find out.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 41.
Science quotes on:  |  Advance (123)  |  Belief (400)  |  Best (129)  |  Evolution (482)  |  Find Out (12)  |  God (454)  |  Know (321)  |  People (269)  |  Science (1699)  |  Technology (199)

It is known that knowledge is power, and power is energy, and energy is matter, and matter is mass, and therefore large accumulations of knowledge distort time and space.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 203.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (29)  |  Distort (6)  |  Energy (185)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Large (82)  |  Mass (61)  |  Matter (270)  |  Power (273)  |  Space (154)  |  Time (439)

It’s that moment, that brief epiphany when the universe opens up and shows us something, and in that instant we get just a sense of an order greater than Heaven and, as yet at least, beyond the grasp of Stephen Hawking.
— Terry Pratchett
Quoted in Kim Lim (ed.), 1,001 Pearls of Spiritual Wisdom: Words to Enrich, Inspire, and Guide Your Life (2014), 109
Science quotes on:  |  Beyond (65)  |  Brief (14)  |  Grasp (43)  |  Great (300)  |  Stephen W. Hawking (45)  |  Heaven (118)  |  Instant (10)  |  Least (43)  |  Moment (61)  |  Open (38)  |  Order (167)  |  Sense (240)  |  Show (55)  |  Universe (563)

Logic is a wonderful thing but doesn't always beat actual thought.
— Terry Pratchett
The Last Continent (1998)
Science quotes on:  |  Logic (187)  |  Thought (374)

Science is not about building a body of known “facts”. It is a method for asking awkward questions and subjecting them to a reality-check, thus avoiding the human tendency to believe whatever makes us feel good.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 90.
Science quotes on:  |  Avoid (34)  |  Awkward (6)  |  Belief (400)  |  Fact (609)  |  Human (445)  |  Knowledge (1128)  |  Question (315)  |  Science (1699)  |  Tendency (40)

Scientists repeatedly return to established theories to test them in new ways, and tend towards testiness with those priests, religious or secular, who know the answers already—whatever the questions are.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 90.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (201)  |  Know (321)  |  Priest (16)  |  Question (315)  |  Religious (44)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Secular (8)  |  Test (96)  |  Theory (582)

Some of them wanted to sell me snake oil and I’m not necessarily going to dismiss all of these, as I have never found a rusty snake.
— Terry Pratchett
Speech to Alzheimer's Research Trust Conference, Bristol (13 Mar 2008).
Science quotes on:  |  Medicine (322)  |  Quack (12)

Sometimes scientists change their minds. New developments cause a rethink. If this bothers you, consider how much damage is being done to the world by people for whom new developments do not cause a rethink.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 14.
Science quotes on:  |  Bother (6)  |  Change (291)  |  Consider (45)  |  Damage (18)  |  Development (228)  |  Mind (544)  |  New (340)  |  Rethink (2)  |  Scientist (447)  |  World (667)

The fact that nature deals the occasional death blow doesn’t hand us an excuse to imitate it.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 365.
Science quotes on:  |  Blow (13)  |  Death (270)  |  Excuse (15)  |  Imitate (5)  |  Nature (1029)  |  Occasional (10)

The pen is mightier than the sword … only if the sword is very small and the pen is very sharp.
— Terry Pratchett
The Light Fantastic (1986)
Science quotes on:  |  Weapon (57)

The presence of those seeking the truth is infinitely to be preferred to the presence of those who think they’ve found it.
— Terry Pratchett
In Monstrous Regiment (2004), 211.
Science quotes on:  |  Finding (30)  |  Infinity (59)  |  Preference (18)  |  Presence (26)  |  Seeking (30)  |  Thinking (222)  |  Truth (750)

The scientist’s task is to find ways to try to disprove things that seem to make sense.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 230.
Science quotes on:  |  Disprove (15)  |  Scientist (447)  |  Seem (89)  |  Sense (240)  |  Task (68)

There is no higher life form than a librarian.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 10.
Science quotes on:  |  Higher (28)  |  Librarian (2)  |  Life Form (5)

There was no point in telling your bosses everything; they were busy men, they didn’t want explanations. There was no point in burdening them. What they wanted was little stories that they felt they could understand, and then they’d go away and stop worrying.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 17.
Science quotes on:  |  Burden (23)  |  Explanation (161)  |  Point (72)  |  Story (58)  |  Tell (67)  |  Understand (189)  |  Worry (27)

They say that every formula halves the sales of a popular science book. This is rubbish–if it was true, then The Emperor’s New Mind by Roger Penrose would have sold one-eighth of a copy, whereas its actual sales were in the hundreds of thousands.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 23.
Science quotes on:  |  Book (181)  |  Formula (51)  |  Hundred (46)  |  Sir Roger Penrose (6)  |  Sell (10)  |  Thousand (106)

When you live in a complex world, you have to simplify it in order to understand it.
— Terry Pratchett
In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 44.
Science quotes on:  |  Complex (78)  |  Simplify (6)  |  Understand (189)  |  World (667)

…because of the ancient principle of WYGIWYGAINGW.
— Terry Pratchett
“What You Get Is What You’re Given And It’s No Use Whining.” In Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, The Science of Discworld (2014), 50.
Science quotes on:  |  Ancient (68)  |  Principle (228)


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)
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- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
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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



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