Celebrating 19 Years on the Web
TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Nature does nothing in vain when less will serve; for Nature is pleased with simplicity and affects not the pomp of superfluous causes.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index D > Category: Doubtful

Doubtful Quotes (29 quotes)

Galileo head and shoulders on starfield, w/earth in orbit around him with quotes “Eppur si muove” (Italian)+“And yet it moves”
By legend (likely not in fact), Galileo quietly whispered this to himself, after his confession.
Eppur si muove.
And yet it does move.
Referring to the Earth. Apocryphal saying (of doubtful authenticity). By legend, Galileo whispered this to himself as he rose from kneeling after making his abjuration of heliocentricity.
No clear evidence exists that Galileo actually said these words, which may have been invented as stories about Galileo were circulated after his death. Seen in print as early as L’Abbé Irailh, Querelles Littéraires [“Literary quarrels”] (Paris, 1761), Vol. 3, 49. As cited, with great skepticism, in John Joseph Fahie, Galileo, His Life and Work (1903), 325.
Science quotes on:  |  Abjuration (2)  |  Authenticity (5)  |  Earth (996)  |  Heliocentric Model (7)  |  Himself (461)  |  Legend (17)  |  Making (300)  |  Move (216)  |  Rose (34)  |  Whisper (11)

A mathematician of the first rank, Laplace quickly revealed himself as only a mediocre administrator; from his first work we saw that we had been deceived. Laplace saw no question from its true point of view; he sought subtleties everywhere; had only doubtful ideas, and finally carried the spirit of the infinitely small into administration.
As quoted in E.T. Bell, Men of Mathematics (1937, 1965), 182. Without citation, except, “As it is often quoted as … Napoleon’s famous estimate of Laplace, of which he is reported to have delivered himself while he was a prisoner at St. Helena.” Laplace had a six-week tenure in the Ministry of the Interior.
Science quotes on:  |  Administration (12)  |  Administrator (11)  |  Deceive (26)  |  Everywhere (94)  |  First (1283)  |  Himself (461)  |  Idea (843)  |  Infinitely (13)  |  Pierre-Simon Laplace (62)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mediocre (14)  |  Point (580)  |  Point Of View (80)  |  Question (621)  |  Rank (67)  |  Reveal (148)  |  Revealed (60)  |  Saw (160)  |  Seek (213)  |  Small (477)  |  Spirit (265)  |  Subtlety (19)  |  True (212)  |  View (488)  |  Work (1351)

But, you might say, “none of this shakes my belief that 2 and 2 are 4.” You are quite right, except in marginal cases—and it is only in marginal cases that you are doubtful whether a certain animal is a dog or a certain length is less than a meter. Two must be two of something, and the proposition “2 and 2 are 4” is useless unless it can be applied. Two dogs and two dogs are certainly four dogs, but cases arise in which you are doubtful whether two of them are dogs. “Well, at any rate there are four animals,” you may say. But there are microorganisms concerning which it is doubtful whether they are animals or plants. “Well, then living organisms,” you say. But there are things of which it is doubtful whether they are living organisms or not. You will be driven into saying: “Two entities and two entities are four entities.” When you have told me what you mean by “entity,” we will resume the argument.
In Basic Writings, 1903-1959 (1961), 108.
Science quotes on:  |  Animal (617)  |  Applied (177)  |  Apply (160)  |  Argument (138)  |  Arise (158)  |  Belief (578)  |  Case (99)  |  Certain (550)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Concern (228)  |  Correct (86)  |  Dog (70)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Entity (35)  |  Length (23)  |  Live (628)  |  Living (491)  |  Marginal (3)  |  Mean (809)  |  Meter (9)  |  Microorganism (28)  |  Must (1526)  |  Organism (220)  |  Plant (294)  |  Proposition (123)  |  Resume (3)  |  Right (452)  |  Say (984)  |  Shake (41)  |  Something (719)  |  Tell (340)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Two (937)  |  Useless (33)  |  Will (2355)

During the first half of the present century we had an Alexander von Humboldt, who was able to scan the scientific knowledge of his time in its details, and to bring it within one vast generalization. At the present juncture, it is obviously very doubtful whether this task could be accomplished in a similar way, even by a mind with gifts so peculiarly suited for the purpose as Humboldt's was, and if all his time and work were devoted to the purpose.
In Hermann von Helmholtz and Edmund Atkinson (trans.), 'The Aim and Progress of Physical Science', Popular Scientific Lectures on Scientific Subjects (1873), 363.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Century (310)  |  Detail (146)  |  Devoted (59)  |  First (1283)  |  Generalization (57)  |  Gift (104)  |  Baron Alexander von Humboldt (20)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Present (619)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Scan (3)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Task (147)  |  Time (1877)  |  Vast (177)  |  Way (1217)  |  Work (1351)

Few will deny that even in the first scientific instruction in mathematics the most rigorous method is to be given preference over all others. Especially will every teacher prefer a consistent proof to one which is based on fallacies or proceeds in a vicious circle, indeed it will be morally impossible for the teacher to present a proof of the latter kind consciously and thus in a sense deceive his pupils. Notwithstanding these objectionable so-called proofs, so far as the foundation and the development of the system is concerned, predominate in our textbooks to the present time. Perhaps it will be answered, that rigorous proof is found too difficult for the pupil’s power of comprehension. Should this be anywhere the case,—which would only indicate some defect in the plan or treatment of the whole,—the only remedy would be to merely state the theorem in a historic way, and forego a proof with the frank confession that no proof has been found which could be comprehended by the pupil; a remedy which is ever doubtful and should only be applied in the case of extreme necessity. But this remedy is to be preferred to a proof which is no proof, and is therefore either wholly unintelligible to the pupil, or deceives him with an appearance of knowledge which opens the door to all superficiality and lack of scientific method.
In 'Stücke aus dem Lehrbuche der Arithmetik', Werke, Bd. 2 (1904), 296.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  All (4108)  |  Answer (366)  |  Anywhere (13)  |  Appearance (140)  |  Applied (177)  |  Apply (160)  |  Base (117)  |  Call (769)  |  Case (99)  |  Circle (110)  |  Comprehend (40)  |  Comprehension (66)  |  Concern (228)  |  Confession (8)  |  Consciously (6)  |  Consistent (48)  |  Deceive (26)  |  Defect (31)  |  Deny (66)  |  Development (422)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Door (93)  |  Especially (31)  |  Extreme (75)  |  Fallacy (30)  |  Far (154)  |  Find (998)  |  First (1283)  |  Forego (4)  |  Foundation (171)  |  Frank (4)  |  Give (202)  |  Historic (7)  |  Impossible (251)  |  Indeed (324)  |  Indicate (61)  |  Instruction (91)  |  Kind (557)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Lack (119)  |  Latter (21)  |  Mathematics (1328)  |  Merely (316)  |  Method (505)  |  Morally (2)  |  Most (1731)  |  Necessity (191)  |  Open (274)  |  Other (2236)  |  Plan (117)  |  Power (746)  |  Predominate (7)  |  Prefer (25)  |  Preference (28)  |  Present (619)  |  Proceed (129)  |  Proof (287)  |  Pupil (61)  |  Remedy (62)  |  Rigorous (48)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientific Method (175)  |  Sense (770)  |  So-Called (71)  |  State (491)  |  Superficiality (4)  |  System (537)  |  Teacher (143)  |  Teaching of Mathematics (39)  |  Textbook (36)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Time (1877)  |  Treatment (130)  |  Unintelligible (15)  |  Vicious Circle (2)  |  Way (1217)  |  Whole (738)  |  Wholly (88)  |  Will (2355)

For those [observations] that I made in Leipzig in my youth and up to my 21st year, I usually call childish and of doubtful value. Those that I took later until my 28th year [i.e., until 1574] I call juvenile and fairly serviceable. The third group, however, which I made at Uraniborg during approximately the last 21 years with the greatest care and with very accurate instruments at a more mature age, until I was fifty years of age, those I call the observations of my manhood, completely valid and absolutely certain, and this is my opinion of them.
In H. Raeder, E. and B. Stromgren (eds. and trans.), Tycho Brahe’s Description of his Instruments and Scientific Work: as given in Astronomiae Instauratae Mechanica, Wandesburgi 1598 (1946), 110.
Science quotes on:  |  Accurate (86)  |  Age (499)  |  Call (769)  |  Care (186)  |  Certain (550)  |  Childish (20)  |  Completely (135)  |  Greatest (328)  |  Instrument (144)  |  Last (426)  |  Mature (16)  |  More (2559)  |  Observation (555)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Usually (176)  |  Value (365)  |  Year (933)  |  Youth (101)

He seemed to approach the grave as an hyperbolic curve approaches a line, less directly as he got nearer, till it was doubtful if he would ever reach it at all.
In Far from the Madding Crowd (1874, 1909), Chap. 15, 117. In the 1874 edition, “—sheering off” were the original words, replaced by “less directly” by the 1909 edition.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Approach (108)  |  Curve (49)  |  Directly (22)  |  Grave (52)  |  Line (91)  |  Nearer (45)  |  Reach (281)  |  Seem (145)

I consider it extremely doubtful whether the happiness of the human race has been enhanced by the technical and industrial developments that followed in the wake of rapidly progressing natural science.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  Consider (416)  |  Development (422)  |  Enhance (16)  |  Extremely (16)  |  Follow (378)  |  Happiness (115)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Race (100)  |  Industrial Development (4)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Science (128)  |  Progress (465)  |  Race (268)  |  Rapidly (66)  |  Science (3879)  |  Technical (43)  |  Wake (13)

I know nothing of the science of astrology and I consider it to be a science, if it is a science, of doubtful value, to be severely left alone by those who have any faith in Providence.
The Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi (1976), Vol. 36, 46.
Science quotes on:  |  Alone (311)  |  Astrology (43)  |  Consider (416)  |  Faith (203)  |  Know (1518)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Providence (18)  |  Science (3879)  |  Value (365)

In fact, no opinion should be with fervour. No one holds with fervour that seven times eight is fifty-six, because it can be shown to be the case. Fervour is only necessary in commending an opinion which is doubtful or demonstrably false.
In Institut et Musée Voltaire, Studies on Voltaire and the Eighteenth Century (1994), 314. Also quoted in Max Perutz, Is Science Necessary? (1991), 196.
Science quotes on:  |  Commendation (3)  |  Demonstration (113)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Fact (1210)  |  False (100)  |  Fervor (7)  |  Necessary (363)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Time (1877)

Is man a peculiar organism? Does he originate in a wholly different way from a dog, bird, frog, or fish? and does he thereby justify those who assert that he has no place in nature, and no real relationship with the lower world of animal life? Or does he develop from a similar embryo, and undergo the same slow and gradual progressive modifications? The answer is not for an instant doubtful, and has not been doubtful for the last thirty years. The mode of man’s origin and the earlier stages of his development are undoubtedly identical with those of the animals standing directly below him in the scale; without the slightest doubt, he stands in this respect nearer the ape than the ape does to the dog. (1863)
As quoted in Ernst Haeckel and E. Ray Lankester (trans.) as epigraph for Chap. 12, The History of Creation (1886), Vol. 1, 364.
Science quotes on:  |   (2863)  |  Animal (617)  |  Animal Life (19)  |  Answer (366)  |  Ape (53)  |  Assert (66)  |  Bird (149)  |  Develop (268)  |  Development (422)  |  Difference (337)  |  Different (577)  |  Dog (70)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Embryo (28)  |  Fish (120)  |  Frog (38)  |  Gradual (27)  |  Identical (53)  |  Instant (45)  |  Justify (24)  |  Last (426)  |  Life (1795)  |  Lower (11)  |  Man (2251)  |  Modification (55)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Nearer (45)  |  Organism (220)  |  Origin (239)  |  Origin Of Man (9)  |  Originate (36)  |  Peculiar (113)  |  Place (177)  |  Progressive (17)  |  Relationship (104)  |  Respect (207)  |  Scale (121)  |  Similar (36)  |  Slow (101)  |  Stage (143)  |  Stand (274)  |  Undergo (14)  |  Way (1217)  |  Wholly (88)  |  World (1774)  |  Year (933)

It is better to employ a doubtful remedy than to condemn the patient to a certain death.
Anonymous
Science quotes on:  |  Better (486)  |  Certain (550)  |  Condemn (44)  |  Death (388)  |  Employ (113)  |  Patient (199)  |  Remedy (62)

It may be observed of mathematicians that they only meddle with such things as are certain, passing by those that are doubtful and unknown. They profess not to know all things, neither do they affect to speak of all things. What they know to be true, and can make good by invincible arguments, that they publish and insert among their theorems. Of other things they are silent and pass no judgment at all, chusing [choosing] rather to acknowledge their ignorance, than affirm anything rashly. They affirm nothing among their arguments or assertions which is not most manifestly known and examined with utmost rigour, rejecting all probable conjectures and little witticisms. They submit nothing to authority, indulge no affection, detest subterfuges of words, and declare their sentiments, as in a Court of Judicature [Justice], without passion, without apology; knowing that their reasons, as Seneca testifies of them, are not brought to persuade, but to compel.
Mathematical Lectures (1734), 64.
Science quotes on:  |  Acknowledge (33)  |  Affection (43)  |  Affirm (2)  |  All (4108)  |  Apology (7)  |  Argument (138)  |  Authority (95)  |  Certain (550)  |  Choose (112)  |  Compel (30)  |  Confirm (57)  |  Conjecture (49)  |  Court (33)  |  Declare (45)  |  Detest (5)  |  Do (1908)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Good (889)  |  Ignorance (240)  |  Indulge (14)  |  Invincible (6)  |  Judgment (132)  |  Justice (39)  |  Know (1518)  |  Knowing (137)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Known (454)  |  Little (707)  |  Manifestly (11)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Meddle (3)  |  Most (1731)  |  Nature Of Mathematics (80)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Observed (149)  |  Other (2236)  |  Pass (238)  |  Passing (76)  |  Passion (114)  |  Persuade (11)  |  Probable (20)  |  Profess (20)  |  Publish (36)  |  Rashly (2)  |  Reason (744)  |  Reject (63)  |  Rigour (21)  |  Lucius Annaeus Seneca (20)  |  Sentiment (14)  |  Silent (29)  |  Speak (232)  |  Submit (18)  |  Testify (5)  |  Theorem (112)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Truth (1057)  |  Unknown (182)  |  Witticism (2)  |  Word (619)

Mathematicians may flatter themselves that they possess new ideas which mere human language is as yet unable to express. Let them make the effort to express these ideas in appropriate words without the aid of symbols, and if they succeed they will not only lay us laymen under a lasting obligation, but, we venture to say, they will find themselves very much enlightened during the process, and will even be doubtful whether the ideas as expressed in symbols had ever quite found their way out of the equations into their minds.
Science quotes on:  |  Aid (97)  |  Appropriate (61)  |  Effort (227)  |  Enlighten (29)  |  Enlightened (24)  |  Equation (132)  |  Express (186)  |  Find (998)  |  Human (1468)  |  Idea (843)  |  Language (293)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mind (1338)  |  New (1216)  |  Obligation (25)  |  Possess (156)  |  Process (423)  |  Say (984)  |  Succeed (109)  |  Symbol (93)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Way (1217)  |  Will (2355)  |  Word (619)

MOLECULE, n. The ultimate, indivisible unit of matter. It is distinguished from the corpuscle, also the ultimate, indivisible unit of matter, by a closer resemblance to the atom, also the ultimate, indivisible unit of matter. Three great scientific theories of the structure of the universe are the molecular, the corpuscular and the atomic. A fourth affirms, with Haeckel, the condensation or precipitation of matter from ether—whose existence is proved by the condensation or precipitation. The present trend of scientific thought is toward the theory of ions. The ion differs from the molecule, the corpuscle and the atom in that it is an ion. A fifth theory is held by idiots, but it is doubtful if they know any more about the matter than the others.
The Collected Works of Ambrose Bierce (1911), Vol. 7, The Devil's Dictionary,  220-221.
Science quotes on:  |  Atom (355)  |  Closer (43)  |  Condensation (12)  |  Corpuscle (13)  |  Differ (85)  |  Distinguish (160)  |  Distinguished (83)  |  Ether (35)  |  Existence (456)  |  Great (1574)  |  Humour (116)  |  Idiot (22)  |  Indivisible (21)  |  Ion (21)  |  Know (1518)  |  Matter (798)  |  Molecule (174)  |  More (2559)  |  Other (2236)  |  Precipitation (7)  |  Present (619)  |  Resemblance (38)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientific Theory (24)  |  Scientific Thought (17)  |  Structure (344)  |  Theory (970)  |  Thought (953)  |  Trend (22)  |  Ultimate (144)  |  Universe (857)

So-called extraordinary events always split into two extremes naturalists who have not witnessed them: those who believe blindly and those who do not believe at all. The latter have always in mind the story of the golden goose; if the facts lie slightly beyond the limits of their knowledge, they relegate them immediately to fables. The former have a secret taste for marvels because they seem to expand Nature; they use their imagination with pleasure to find explanations. To remain doubtful is given to naturalists who keep a middle path between the two extremes. They calmly examine facts; they refer to logic for help; they discuss probabilities; they do not scoff at anything, not even errors, because they serve at least the history of the human mind; finally, they report rather than judge; they rarely decide unless they have good evidence.
Quoted in Albert V. Carozzi, Histoire des sciences de la terre entre 1790 et 1815 vue à travers les documents inédités de la Societé de Physique et d'Histoire Naturelle de Genève, trans. Albert V. and Marguerite Carozzi. (1990), 175.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Belief (578)  |  Beyond (308)  |  Blindness (11)  |  Call (769)  |  Decision (91)  |  Discussion (72)  |  Do (1908)  |  Error (321)  |  Event (216)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Examine (78)  |  Expand (53)  |  Expansion (41)  |  Explanation (234)  |  Extraordinary (79)  |  Extreme (75)  |  Fable (12)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Facts (553)  |  Final (118)  |  Find (998)  |  Former (137)  |  Gold (97)  |  Golden (45)  |  Good (889)  |  Goose (12)  |  History (673)  |  Human (1468)  |  Human Mind (128)  |  Imagination (328)  |  Immediately (114)  |  Judge (108)  |  Judgment (132)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Lie (364)  |  Limit (280)  |  Logic (287)  |  Marvel (35)  |  Mind (1338)  |  Naturalist (70)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Path (144)  |  Pleasure (178)  |  Probability (130)  |  Rare (89)  |  Relegation (3)  |  Remain (349)  |  Report (38)  |  Scoff (7)  |  Secret (194)  |  Service (110)  |  So-Called (71)  |  Split (13)  |  Story (118)  |  Taste (90)  |  Two (937)  |  Use (766)  |  Witness (54)

Such biological ideas as the “survival of the fittest,” whatever their doubtful value in natural science, are utterly useless in attempting to understand society … The life of a man in society, while it is incidentally a biological fact, has characteristics that are not reducible to biology and must be explained in the distinctive terms of a cultural analysis … the physical well-being of men is a result of their social organization and not vice versa … Social improvement is a product of advances in technology and social organization, not of breeding or selective elimination … Judgments as to the value of competition between men or enterprises or nations must be based upon social and not allegedly biological consequences; and … there is nothing in nature or a naturalistic philosophy of life to make impossible the acceptance of moral sanctions that can be employed for the common good.
Social Darwinism in American Thought 1860-1915 (1945), 176.
Science quotes on:  |  Acceptance (52)  |  Advance (280)  |  Analysis (233)  |  Being (1278)  |  Biological (137)  |  Biology (216)  |  Breeding (21)  |  Characteristic (148)  |  Common (436)  |  Competition (39)  |  Consequence (203)  |  Distinctive (25)  |  Elimination (25)  |  Employ (113)  |  Enterprise (54)  |  Explain (322)  |  Fact (1210)  |  Good (889)  |  Idea (843)  |  Impossible (251)  |  Improvement (108)  |  Judgment (132)  |  Life (1795)  |  Man (2251)  |  Moral (195)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nation (193)  |  Natural (796)  |  Natural Science (128)  |  Natural Selection (96)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Organization (114)  |  Philosophy (380)  |  Physical (508)  |  Product (160)  |  Result (677)  |  Sanction (7)  |  Science (3879)  |  Selective (19)  |  Social (252)  |  Society (326)  |  Survival (94)  |  Survival Of The Fittest (40)  |  Technology (257)  |  Term (349)  |  Terms (184)  |  Understand (606)  |  Value (365)  |  Vice (40)  |  Whatever (234)

The automatic computing engine now being designed at N. P. L. [National Physics Laboratory] is atypical large scale electronic digital computing machine. In a single lecture it will not be possible to give much technical detail of this machine, and most of what I shall say will apply equally to any other machine of this type now being planned. From the point of view of the mathematician the property of being digital should be of greater interest than that of being electronic. That it is electronic is certainly important because these machines owe their high speed to this, and without the speed it is doubtful if financial support for their construction would be forthcoming. But this is virtually all that there is to be said on that subject. That the machine is digital however has more subtle significance. It means firstly that numbers are represented by sequences of digits which can be as long as one wishes. One can therefore work to any desired degree of accuracy. This accuracy is not obtained by more careful machining of parts, control of temperature variations, and such means, but by a slight increase in the amount of equipment in the machine.
Lecture to the London Mathematical Society, 20 February 1947. Quoted in B. E. Carpenter and R. W. Doran (eds.), A. M. Turing's Ace Report of 1946 and Other Papers (1986), 106.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (78)  |  All (4108)  |  Amount (151)  |  Apply (160)  |  Atypical (3)  |  Automatic (16)  |  Being (1278)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Computer (127)  |  Construction (112)  |  Control (167)  |  Degree (276)  |  Design (195)  |  Designed (3)  |  Desired (6)  |  Detail (146)  |  Digital (10)  |  Electronic (12)  |  Engine (98)  |  Engineering (175)  |  Equally (130)  |  Equipment (43)  |  Greater (288)  |  High (362)  |  Increase (210)  |  Interest (386)  |  Laboratory (196)  |  Large (394)  |  Lecture (105)  |  Long (790)  |  Machine (257)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Number (699)  |  Obtain (163)  |  Other (2236)  |  Owe (71)  |  Physic (517)  |  Physics (533)  |  Point (580)  |  Point Of View (80)  |  Possible (552)  |  Property (168)  |  Represent (155)  |  Say (984)  |  Scale (121)  |  Sequence (68)  |  Significance (113)  |  Single (353)  |  Speed (65)  |  Subject (521)  |  Support (147)  |  Technology (257)  |  Temperature (79)  |  Type (167)  |  Variation (90)  |  View (488)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)

The automatic computing engine now being designed at N.P.L. [National Physics Laboratory] is atypical large scale electronic digital computing machine. In a single lecture it will not be possible to give much technical detail of this machine, and most of what I shall say will apply equally to any other machine of this type now being planned. From the point of view of the mathematician the property of being digital should be of greater interest than that of being electronic. That it is electronic is certainly important because these machines owe their high speed to this, and without the speed it is doubtful if financial support for their construction would be forthcoming. But this is virtually all that there is to be said on that subject. That the machine is digital however has more subtle significance. It means firstly that numbers are represented by sequences of digits which can be as long as one wishes. One can therefore work to any desired degree of accuracy. This accuracy is not obtained by more careful machining of parts, control of temperature variations, and such means, but by a slight increase in the amount of equipment in the machine.
Lecture to the London Mathematical Society, 20 February 1947. Quoted in B. E. Carpenter and R. W. Doran (eds.), A. M. Turing's Ace Report of 1946 and Other Papers (1986), 106.
Science quotes on:  |  Accuracy (78)  |  All (4108)  |  Amount (151)  |  Apply (160)  |  Atypical (3)  |  Automatic (16)  |  Being (1278)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Computer (127)  |  Construction (112)  |  Control (167)  |  Degree (276)  |  Design (195)  |  Designed (3)  |  Desired (6)  |  Detail (146)  |  Digital (10)  |  Electronic (12)  |  Engine (98)  |  Engineering (175)  |  Equally (130)  |  Equipment (43)  |  Greater (288)  |  High (362)  |  Increase (210)  |  Interest (386)  |  Laboratory (196)  |  Large (394)  |  Lecture (105)  |  Long (790)  |  Machine (257)  |  Mathematician (387)  |  Mean (809)  |  Means (579)  |  More (2559)  |  Most (1731)  |  Number (699)  |  Obtain (163)  |  Other (2236)  |  Owe (71)  |  Physic (517)  |  Physics (533)  |  Point (580)  |  Point Of View (80)  |  Possible (552)  |  Property (168)  |  Represent (155)  |  Say (984)  |  Scale (121)  |  Sequence (68)  |  Significance (113)  |  Single (353)  |  Speed (65)  |  Subject (521)  |  Support (147)  |  Technology (257)  |  Temperature (79)  |  Type (167)  |  Variation (90)  |  View (488)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)

The demand for certainty is one which is natural to man, but is nevertheless an intellectual vice. If you take your children for a picnic on a doubtful day, they will demand a dogmatic answer as to whether it will be fine or wet, and be disappointed in you when you cannot be sure.
From 'Philosophy For Laymen', collected in Unpopular Essays (1950, 1996), 38. This idea may be summarized as “What men want is not knowledge, but certainty” — a widely circulated aphorism attributed to Russell, but for which Webmaster has so far found no citation. (Perhaps it is a summary, never expressed in those exact words, but if you know the primary source, please contact Webmaster.)
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (366)  |  Certainty (174)  |  Child (307)  |  Children (200)  |  Demand (123)  |  Disappoint (14)  |  Disappointed (6)  |  Dogmatic (7)  |  Fine (33)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Man (2251)  |  Natural (796)  |  Nevertheless (90)  |  Vice (40)  |  Weather (44)  |  Wet (6)  |  Will (2355)

The idealistic tinge in my conception of the physical world arose out of mathematical researches on the relativity theory. In so far as I had any earlier philosophical views, they were of an entirely different complexion.
From the beginning I have been doubtful whether it was desirable for a scientist to venture so far into extra-scientific territory. The primary justification for such an expedition is that it may afford a better view of his own scientific domain.
From 'Introduction', The Nature of the Physical World (1928), vi.
Science quotes on:  |  Beginning (305)  |  Better (486)  |  Conception (154)  |  Desirable (33)  |  Different (577)  |  Domain (69)  |  Expedition (8)  |  Justification (48)  |  Physical (508)  |  Physical World (28)  |  Primary (80)  |  Relativity (88)  |  Scientific (941)  |  Scientist (820)  |  Territory (24)  |  Theory (970)  |  View (488)  |  World (1774)

The members of the department became like the Athenians who, according to the Apostle Paul, “spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell or to hear some new thing.” Anyone who thought he had a bright idea rushed out to try it out on a colleague. Groups of two or more could be seen every day in offices, before blackboards or even in corridors, arguing vehemently about these 'brain storms.' It is doubtful whether any paper ever emerged for publication that had not run the gauntlet of such criticism. The whole department thus became far greater than the sum of its individual members.
Obituary of Gilbert Newton Lewis, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science (1958), 31, 212.
Science quotes on:  |  According (237)  |  Blackboard (11)  |  Brain (270)  |  Brainstorm (2)  |  Bright (79)  |  Colleague (50)  |  Criticism (78)  |  Department (92)  |  Greater (288)  |  Hear (139)  |  Idea (843)  |  Individual (404)  |  Gilbert Newton Lewis (9)  |  More (2559)  |  New (1216)  |  Nothing (966)  |  Obituary (10)  |  Office (71)  |  Paper (182)  |  Publication (101)  |  Run (174)  |  Spent (85)  |  Storm (51)  |  Storms (18)  |  Sum (102)  |  Tell (340)  |  Thing (1915)  |  Thought (953)  |  Time (1877)  |  Try (283)  |  Two (937)  |  Whole (738)

The only use for an atomic bomb is to keep somebody else from using one. It can give us no protection—only the doubtful satisfaction of retaliation.
From speech given at an anti-war teach-in at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, (4 Mar 1969) 'A Generation in Search of a Future', as edited by Ron Dorfman for Chicago Journalism Review, (May 1969).
Science quotes on:  |  Atomic Bomb (111)  |  Nuclear (107)  |  Protection (36)  |  Retaliation (2)  |  Satisfaction (74)  |  Use (766)  |  Weapon (92)

We are … led to a somewhat vague distinction between what we may call “hard” data and “soft” data. This distinction is a matter of degree, and must not be pressed; but if not taken too seriously it may help to make the situation clear. I mean by “hard” data those which resist the solvent influence of critical reflection, and by “soft” data those which, under the operation of this process, become to our minds more or less doubtful.
Our Knowledge of the External World (1925), 75.
Science quotes on:  |  Become (815)  |  Call (769)  |  Clear (100)  |  Critical (66)  |  Data (156)  |  Degree (276)  |  Distinction (72)  |  Doubt (304)  |  Hard (243)  |  Influence (222)  |  Matter (798)  |  Mean (809)  |  Mind (1338)  |  More (2559)  |  More Or Less (68)  |  Must (1526)  |  Operation (213)  |  Process (423)  |  Reflection (90)  |  Resistance (40)  |  Seriousness (10)  |  Situation (113)  |  Soft (29)  |  Solvent (6)  |  Vague (47)  |  Vagueness (15)

Why then be concerned about the conservation of wildlife when for all practical purposes we would be much better off if humans and their domestic animals and pets were the only living creatures on the face of the earth? There is no obvious and demolishing answer to this rather doubtful logic although in practice the destruction of all wild animals would certainly bring devastating changes to our existence on this planet as we know it today...The trouble is that everything in nature is completely interdependent. Tinker with one part of it and the repercussions ripple out in all directions...Wildlife - and that includes everything from microbes to blue whales and from a fungus to a redwood tree - has been so much part of life on the earth that we are inclined to take its continued existence for granted...Yet the wildlife of the world is disappearing, not because of a malicious and deliberate policy of slaughter and extermination, but simply because of a general and widespread ignorance and neglect.
…...
Science quotes on:  |  All (4108)  |  Animal (617)  |  Answer (366)  |  Better (486)  |  Blue Whale (3)  |  Bring (90)  |  Certainly (185)  |  Change (593)  |  Completely (135)  |  Concern (228)  |  Conservation (168)  |  Continue (165)  |  Creature (233)  |  Deliberate (18)  |  Demolish (8)  |  Destruction (125)  |  Devastating (5)  |  Direction (175)  |  Disappear (82)  |  Domestic (26)  |  Earth (996)  |  Everything (476)  |  Existence (456)  |  Extermination (14)  |  Face (212)  |  Face Of The Earth (4)  |  Fungus (5)  |  General (511)  |  Grant (73)  |  Human (1468)  |  Ignorance (240)  |  Inclined (41)  |  Include (90)  |  Interdependent (2)  |  Know (1518)  |  Life (1795)  |  Live (628)  |  Living (491)  |  Logic (287)  |  Malicious (8)  |  Microbe (28)  |  Microbes (14)  |  Nature (1926)  |  Neglect (63)  |  Obvious (126)  |  Part (222)  |  Pet (8)  |  Planet (356)  |  Policy (24)  |  Practical (200)  |  Practice (204)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Redwood (8)  |  Repercussion (4)  |  Ripple (9)  |  Simply (53)  |  Slaughter (7)  |  Tinker (6)  |  Today (314)  |  Tree (246)  |  Trouble (107)  |  Whale (32)  |  Why (491)  |  Widespread (22)  |  Wild (87)  |  Wildlife (14)  |  World (1774)

[Doubtful attribution; from docudrama script] Big questions get big answers.
This statement is in the script to the BBC TV docudrama Life Story (14 Sep 1987), a.k.a. Race for the Double Helix and shown as part of the Horizon science program series. The writing credits are William Nicholson, with James Watson (book). Webmaster has not yet found the quote in a primary source, especially not a source earlier than docudrama. Lacking another source, Webmaster wonders if this quote was created by the scriptwriter, and not verbatim from an original statement by Crick himself. Please contact if you know a primary source.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (366)  |  Big (48)  |  Question (621)

[E.H.] Moore was presenting a paper on a highly technical topic to a large gathering of faculty and graduate students from all parts of the country. When half way through he discovered what seemed to be an error (though probably no one else in the room observed it). He stopped and re-examined the doubtful step for several minutes and then, convinced of the error, he abruptly dismissed the meeting—to the astonishment of most of the audience. It was an evidence of intellectual courage as well as honesty and doubtless won for him the supreme admiration of every person in the group—an admiration which was in no wise diminished, but rather increased, when at a later meeting he announced that after all he had been able to prove the step to be correct.
In Obituary, 'Eliakim Hastings Moore', The American Mathematical Monthly (Apr 1933), 40, 191.
Science quotes on:  |  Admiration (59)  |  All (4108)  |  Announce (13)  |  Astonishment (30)  |  Audience (26)  |  Convinced (23)  |  Correct (86)  |  Country (251)  |  Courage (69)  |  Diminish (17)  |  Discover (553)  |  Dismiss (10)  |  Doubtless (8)  |  Error (321)  |  Evidence (248)  |  Examine (78)  |  Faculty (72)  |  Gathering (23)  |  Graduate (29)  |  Graduate Student (11)  |  Honesty (25)  |  Increase (210)  |  Intellectual (255)  |  Large (394)  |  Meeting (20)  |  Minute (125)  |  Eliakim Hastings Moore (2)  |  Most (1731)  |  Observed (149)  |  Paper (182)  |  Person (363)  |  Present (619)  |  Prove (250)  |  Step (231)  |  Stop (80)  |  Student (300)  |  Supreme (71)  |  Technical (43)  |  Through (849)  |  Topic (21)  |  Way (1217)  |  Wise (131)

[The surplus of basic knowledge of the atomic nucleus was] largely used up [during the war with the atomic bomb as the dividend.] We must, without further delay restore this surplus in preparation for the important peacetime job for the nucleus - power production. ... Many of the proposed applications of atomic power - even for interplanetary rockets - seem to be within the realm of possibility provided the economic factor is ruled out completely, and the doubtful physical and chemical factors are weighted heavily on the optimistic side. ... The development of economic atomic power is not a simple extrapolation of knowledge gained during the bomb work. It is a new and difficult project to reach a satisfactory answer. Needless to say, it is vital that the atomic policy legislation now being considered by the congress recognizes the essential nature of this peacetime job, and that it not only permits but encourages the cooperative research-engineering effort of industrial, government and university laboratories for the task. ... We must learn how to generate the still higher energy particles of the cosmic rays - up to 1,000,000,000 volts, for they will unlock new domains in the nucleus.
Addressing the American Institute of Electrical Engineering, in New York (24 Jan 1946). In Schenectady Gazette (25 Jan 1946),
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (366)  |  Application (242)  |  Atomic Bomb (111)  |  Atomic Power (9)  |  Basic (138)  |  Being (1278)  |  Chemical (292)  |  Completely (135)  |  Congress (19)  |  Consider (416)  |  Cooperation (32)  |  Cosmic (72)  |  Cosmic Ray (7)  |  Delay (20)  |  Development (422)  |  Difficult (246)  |  Dividend (3)  |  Domain (69)  |  Economic (81)  |  Economics (37)  |  Effort (227)  |  Encourage (40)  |  Energy (344)  |  Engineering (175)  |  Essential (199)  |  Extrapolation (6)  |  Gain (145)  |  Government (110)  |  Heavily (14)  |  Industry (137)  |  Job (82)  |  Knowledge (1529)  |  Laboratory (196)  |  Learn (629)  |  Legislation (10)  |  Must (1526)  |  Nature (1926)  |  New (1216)  |  Nucleus (49)  |  Optimism (14)  |  Particle (194)  |  Peacetime (2)  |  Permit (58)  |  Physical (508)  |  Possibility (164)  |  Power (746)  |  Preparation (58)  |  Production (183)  |  Project (73)  |  Ray (114)  |  Reach (281)  |  Realm (85)  |  Recognize (125)  |  Research (664)  |  Rocket (43)  |  Satisfaction (74)  |  Say (984)  |  Side (233)  |  Simple (406)  |  Still (613)  |  Surplus (2)  |  Task (147)  |  University (121)  |  Unlock (10)  |  Unlocking (2)  |  Vital (85)  |  War (225)  |  Weight (134)  |  Will (2355)  |  Work (1351)  |  World War II (8)

[Very doubtful attribution.] The purpose of anthropology is to make the world safe for human differences.
This likely misquote is included here to caution: do NOT blindly accept it. Webmaster has so far been unable to find any primary source for this viral alleged quote. It is often seen, but never with a citation. Or worse, with a citation to another source which fails to give a citation at all. ApostateAbe, 'Stop this Ruth Benedict misquote', Reddit (c.Dec 2017) directly challenges the quote: “Ruth Benedict never said it, not in any of her published writings. It seems to be merely myth. It is never specifically cited, nor does it make historical sense.” So, if you know an authentic primary source, please contact Webmaster.
Science quotes on:  |  Anthropology (58)  |  Difference (337)  |  Human (1468)  |  Purpose (317)  |  Safe (54)  |  World (1774)


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 |

- 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



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