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Home > Category Index for Science Quotations > Category Index W > Category: Worthless

Worthless Quotes (21 quotes)

A science which does not bring us nearer to God is worthless.
In Gravity and Grace, (1947, 1952), 105.
Science quotes on:  |  Nearer (8)  |  Science And God (5)

As for types like my own, obscurely motivated by the conviction that our existence was worthless if we didn’t make a turning point of it, we were assigned to the humanities, to poetry, philosophy, painting—the nursery games of humankind, which had to be left behind when the age of science began. The humanities would be called upon to choose a wallpaper for the crypt, as the end drew near.
From More Die of Heartbreak (1987, 1997), 246-247.
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Everything that is written merely to please the author is worthless.
Quoted without citation in W.H. Auden and L. Kronenberger (eds.) The Viking Book of Aphorisms (1966), 279. Webmaster has tried without success to locate a primary source. Can you help?
Science quotes on:  |  Author (62)  |  Everything (181)  |  Merely (82)  |  Please (24)  |  Write (154)

Generality of points of view and of methods, precision and elegance in presentation, have become, since Lagrange, the common property of all who would lay claim to the rank of scientific mathematicians. And, even if this generality leads at times to abstruseness at the expense of intuition and applicability, so that general theorems are formulated which fail to apply to a single special case, if furthermore precision at times degenerates into a studied brevity which makes it more difficult to read an article than it was to write it; if, finally, elegance of form has well-nigh become in our day the criterion of the worth or worthlessness of a proposition,—yet are these conditions of the highest importance to a wholesome development, in that they keep the scientific material within the limits which are necessary both intrinsically and extrinsically if mathematics is not to spend itself in trivialities or smother in profusion.
In Die Entwickdung der Mathematik in den letzten Jahrhunderten (1884), 14-15.
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Grant us a brief delay; impulse in everything is but a worthless servant.
From the original Latin, “Da spatium tenuemque moram; male cuncta ministrat Impetus,” in Thebais, X, 704. As translated in Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1897), 40.
Science quotes on:  |  Brief (20)  |  Delay (11)  |  Grant (32)  |  Impulse (33)  |  Servant (18)

I am more fond of achieving than striving. My theories must prove to be facts or be discarded as worthless. My efforts must soon be crowned with success, or discontinued.
The Rest of My Life, ch. 4 (1937).Wells wrote, in addition to other works, the popular 'Fleming Stone' detective series.
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I heard long ago in the Army: Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.
From Speech (14 Nov 1957) to the National Defense Executive Reserve Conference, Washington, D.C., in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1957 (1999), 818. Note that this is often seen attributed to Eisenhauer, without the introductory clause. Thus, it is not his original idea, though it may be his wording of it.
Science quotes on:  |  Everything (181)  |  Plan (87)

If you cannot—in the long run—tell everyone what you have been doing, your doing has been worthless.
Concluding remark of the first of four public lectures for the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies at University College, Dublin (Feb 1950), 'The Spiritual Bearing of Science on Life', collected in Science and Humanism: Physics in Our Time (1951). Reprinted in 'Nature and the Greeks' and 'Science and Humanism' (1996), 112.
Science quotes on:  |  Doing (36)  |  Telling (23)

In Mathematics, censorship and criticism can not be allowed to everyone; the speeches of the rhetoricians and the defenses of the lawyers are worthless.
From In Artem Analyticem Isagoge (1591, “Introduction to the Analytic Arts”), translated from the original Latin to French in Édouard Lucas, Récréations Mathématiques (1883), Vol. 2, 1, given as, “Dans les Mathématiques, la censure et la critique ne peuvent être permises à tout le monde; les discours des rhéteurs et les défenses des avocats n’y valent rien.” English version from the French by Webmaster using Google translate.
Science quotes on:  |  Allow (44)  |  Censorship (3)  |  Criticism (60)  |  Defense (18)  |  Lawyer (23)  |  Mathematics (1205)  |  Speech (47)

In the 1920s, there was a dinner at which the physicist Robert W. Wood was asked to respond to a toast … “To physics and metaphysics.” Now by metaphysics was meant something like philosophy—truths that you could get to just by thinking about them. Wood took a second, glanced about him, and answered along these lines: The physicist has an idea, he said. The more he thinks it through, the more sense it makes to him. He goes to the scientific literature, and the more he reads, the more promising the idea seems. Thus prepared, he devises an experiment to test the idea. The experiment is painstaking. Many possibilities are eliminated or taken into account; the accuracy of the measurement is refined. At the end of all this work, the experiment is completed and … the idea is shown to be worthless. The physicist then discards the idea, frees his mind (as I was saying a moment ago) from the clutter of error, and moves on to something else. The difference between physics and metaphysics, Wood concluded, is that the metaphysicist has no laboratory.
In 'Wonder and Skepticism', Skeptical Enquirer (Jan-Feb 1995), 19, No. 1.
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Is any knowledge worthless? Try to think of an example.
From chapter 'Jottings from a Note-Book', in Canadian Stories (1918), 169.
Science quotes on:  |  Example (94)  |  Knowledge (1306)  |  Think (347)  |  Try (141)

It is, so to speak, a scientific tact, which must guide mathematicians in their investigations, and guard them from spending their forces on scientifically worthless problems and abstruse realms, a tact which is closely related to esthetic tact and which is the only thing in our science which cannot be taught or acquired, and is yet the indispensable endowment of every mathematician.
In Die Entwickelung der Mathematik in den letzten Jahrhunderten (1869), 28. As translated in Robert Édouard Moritz, Memorabilia Mathematica; Or, The Philomath’s Quotation-book (1914), 92. From the original German, “Es ist, so zu sagen, ein wissenschaftlicher Tact, welcher die Mathematiker bei ihren Untersuchungen leiten, und sie davor bewahren muss, ihre Kräfte auf wissenschaftlich werthlose Probleme und abstruse Gebiete zu wenden, ein Tact, der dem ästhetischen nahe verwandt, das einzige ist, was in unserer Wissenschaft nicht gelehrt und gelernt werden kann, aber eine unentbehrliche Mitgift eines Mathematikers sein sollte.”
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It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas … If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you … On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish the useful ideas from the worthless ones.
In 'The Burden of Skepticism', Skeptical Inquirer (Fall 1987), 12, No. 1.
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Mere knowledge is comparatively worthless unless digested into practical wisdom and common sense as applied to the affairs of life.
As quoted, without citation, in John Walker, A Fork in the Road: Answers to Daily Dilemmas from the Teachings of Jesus Christ (2005), 71.
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On Sept 15th [1852] Mr Goulburn, Chancellor of the Exchequer, asked my opinion on the utility of Mr Babbage's calculating machine, and the propriety of spending further sums of money on it. I replied, entering fully into the matter, and giving my opinion that it was worthless.
In George Biddell Airy and Wilfrid Airy (ed.), Autobiography of Sir George Biddell Airy (1896), 152.
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Several of my young acquaintances are in their graves who gave promise of making happy and useful citizens and there is no question whatever that cigarettes alone were the cause of their destruction. No boy living would commence the use of cigarettes if he knew what a useless, soulless, worthless thing they would make of him.
Quoted in Henry Ford, The Case Against the Little White Slaver (1914), Vol. 1, 20.
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There must be some one quality without which a work of art cannot exist; possessing which, in the least degree, no work is altogether worthless.
In Art (1913), 7.
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To render aid to the worthless is sheer waste. Rain does not freshen the Dead Sea, but only enables it to dissolve more salt.
From chapter 'Jottings from a Note-Book', in Canadian Stories (1918), 172.
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We are living in an age of awesome agricultural enterprise that needs to be interpreted. We find our simple faith in science dominated by the Religion of PhDeism under the reign of Data; so narrow in people and often so meaningless in context as to be worthless to the scientific farmer.
Letter to Joshua Lederberg (19 Apr 1970), Joshua Lederberg papers, National Library of Medicine (online). Hildebrand was a response to a Lederberg's letter published in the Washington Post (18 Apr 1970) about 'Ecology Has All Requisites of an Authentic Religion.' Note that Sam Murchid claimed this term PhDeism in another context in his diaries (as seen in diaries of 1964 and others).
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[Science] is not perfect. It can be misused. It is only a tool. But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything. It has two rules. First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless. Second: whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. ... The obvious is sometimes false; the unexpected is sometimes true.
Cosmos (1985), 277.
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~~[Attributed]~~ That theory is worthless. It isn’t even wrong!
Probably a feral variant of “This isn’t right. This isn’t even wrong,” which can only be cited as “Attributed,” since there is no known primary source.
Science quotes on:  |  Theory (696)  |  Wrong (139)


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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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
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Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
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Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
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Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
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Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
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Karl Popper
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Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
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Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
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Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
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JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
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Archimedes
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- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
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Richard Feynman
James Hutton
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- 20 -
Carl Sagan
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- 10 -
Aristotle
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