Charming Quotes (4 quotes)
[Concerning] mr Kirwan’s charming treatise on manures. Science never appears so beautiful as when applied to the uses of human life, nor any use of it so engaging as agriculture & domestic economy.
Even now there is a very wavering grasp of the true position of mathematics as an element in the history of thought. I will not go so far as to say that to construct a history of thought without profound study of the mathematical ideas of successive epochs is like omitting Hamlet from the play which is named after him That would be claiming too much. But it is certainly analogous to cutting out the part of Ophelia. This simile is singularly exact. For Ophelia is quite essential to the play, she is very charming—and a little mad. Let us grant that the pursuit of mathematics is a divine madness of the human spirit, a refuge from the goading urgency of contingent happenings.
Only to often on meeting scientific men, even those of genuine distiction, one finds that they are dull fellows and very stupid. They know one thing to excess; they know nothing else. Pursuing facts too doggedly and unimaginatively, they miss all the charming things that are not facts. ... Too much learning, like too little learning, is an unpleasant and dangerous thing.
To illustrate the apparent contrast between statistics and truth … may I quote a remark I once overheard: “There are three kinds of lies: white lies, which are justifiable; common lies—these have no justification; and statistics.” Our meaning is similar when we say: “Anything can be proved by figures”; or, modifying a well-known quotation from Goethe, with numbers “all men may contend their charming systems to defend.”