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Who said: “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index O > Category: Oracle

Oracle Quotes (5 quotes)

A shallow brain behind a serious mask,
An oracle within an empty cask.
In 'Conversation', Table Talk: And Other Poems (1817), 155.
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Almost every major systematic error which has deluded men for thousands of years relied on practical experience. Horoscopes, incantations, oracles, magic, witchcraft, the cures of witch doctors and of medical practitioners before the advent of modern medicine, were all firmly established through the centuries in the eyes of the public by their supposed practical successes. The scientific method was devised precisely for the purpose of elucidating the nature of things under more carefully controlled conditions and by more rigorous criteria than are present in the situations created by practical problems.
Personal Knowledge (1958), 183.
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Nature could not err, but knew exactly and infallibly. Our function was to ask her questions, to listen patiently to the answers, and to understand them correctly.
And to this end we went out into the field, time and time again. Often at brief intervals we returned to the same outcrop where our Pythia, nature, opened her mouth from time to time to utter her equivocal oracles. Time and again we studied the same stratification, or the same interpenetration of rocks, and yet each time advanced one step further, because of what we had learned on the last visit, because the previous impression had had time to settle, or because this time our eyes were a little keener and now observed what hitherto had escaped them.
In Hans Cloos, Ernst Cloos (ed.) and Curt Dietz (ed.), Conversation With the Earth (1953, 1959), 28, as translated by E.B. Garside from the original German edition, Gespräch mit der Erde (1947).
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The folly of mistaking a paradox for a discovery, a metaphor for a proof, a torrent of verbiage for a spring of capital truths, and oneself for an oracle, is inborn in us.
In John Bartlett, Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced (1968), 857.
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The Mathematics, I say, which effectually exercises, not vainly deludes or vexatiously torments studious Minds with obscure Subtilties, perplexed Difficulties, or contentious Disquisitions; which overcomes without Opposition, triumphs without Pomp, compels without Force, and rules absolutely without Loss of Liberty; which does not privately over-reach a weak Faith, but openly assaults an armed Reason, obtains a total Victory, and puts on inevitable Chains; whose Words are so many Oracles, and Works as many Miracles; which blabs out nothing rashly, nor designs anything from the Purpose, but plainly demonstrates and readily performs all Things within its Verge; which obtrudes no false Shadow of Science, but the very Science itself, the Mind firmly adhering to it, as soon as possessed of it, and can never after desert it of its own Accord, or be deprived of it by any Force of others: Lastly the Mathematics, which depends upon Principles clear to the Mind, and agreeable to Experience; which draws certain Conclusions, instructs by profitable Rules, unfolds pleasant Questions; and produces wonderful Effects; which is the fruitful Parent of, I had almost said all, Arts, the unshaken Foundation of Sciences, and the plentiful Fountain of Advantage to human Affairs.
Address to the University of Cambridge upon being elected Lucasian Professor of Mathematics (14 Mar 1664). In Mathematical Lectures (1734), xxviii.
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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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