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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index R > Bertrand Russell Quotes > Error

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Bertrand Russell
(18 May 1872 - 2 Feb 1970)

Welsh mathematician, logician and philosopher known for his work in mathematical logic, but was also active in social and political campaigns, advocating pacifism and nuclear disarmament.



A hallucination is a fact, not an error; what is erroneous is a judgment based upon it.
— Bertrand Russell
The Monist (Apr 1914), 24:2, 173.
Science quotes on:  |  Erroneous (30)  |  Error (321)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Hallucination (4)  |  Judgment (132)

Although this may seem a paradox, all exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. When a man tells you that he knows the exact truth about anything, you are safe in infering that he is an inexact man. Every careful measurement in science is always given with the probable error ... every observer admits that he is likely wrong, and knows about how much wrong he is likely to be.
— Bertrand Russell
In The Scientific Outlook (1931, 2009), 42.
Science quotes on:  |  All (4107)  |  Approximation (31)  |  Error (321)  |  Idea (845)  |  Inexact (3)  |  Know (1519)  |  Man (2249)  |  Measurement (174)  |  Paradox (50)  |  Safe (54)  |  Science (3880)  |  Tell (340)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Wrong (234)

If the matter is one that can be settled by observation, make the observation yourself. Aristotle could have avoided the mistake of thinking that women have fewer teeth than men, by the simple device of asking Mrs. Aristotle to keep her mouth open while he counted.
— Bertrand Russell
In An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1943), 22.
Science quotes on:  |  Aristotle (173)  |  Asking (74)  |  Avoid (116)  |  Count (105)  |  Device (70)  |  Error (321)  |  Experiment (696)  |  Matter (801)  |  Mistake (170)  |  Mouth (53)  |  Observation (560)  |  Open (274)  |  Proof (289)  |  Settled (34)  |  Simple (406)  |  Teeth (43)  |  Thinking (415)  |  Tooth (29)

Since the world is what it is, it is clear that valid reasoning from sound principles cannot lead to error; but a principle may be so nearly true as to deserve theoretical respect, and yet may lead to practical consequences which we feel to be absurd. There is therefore a justification for common sense in philosophy, but only as showing that our theoretical principles cannot be quite correct so long as their consequences are condemned by an appeal to common sense which we feel to be irresistible.
— Bertrand Russell
In A History of Western Philosophy, (1945, 1996), 553.
Science quotes on:  |  Absurd (59)  |  Appeal (45)  |  Common (436)  |  Common Sense (130)  |  Condemn (44)  |  Consequence (207)  |  Correct (87)  |  Deserve (65)  |  Error (321)  |  Feel (366)  |  Irresistible (16)  |  Justification (49)  |  Lead (385)  |  Long (789)  |  Nearly (137)  |  Philosophy (382)  |  Practical (200)  |  Principle (510)  |  Reasoning (207)  |  Respect (207)  |  Sense (770)  |  Sound (183)  |  Theoretical (22)  |  True (214)  |  Valid (11)  |  World (1778)

Bertrand Russell quote: There are infinite possibilities of error, and more cranks take up fashionable untruths than unfashionab
There are infinite possibilities of error, and more cranks take up fashionable untruths than unfashionable truths.
— Bertrand Russell
Principles of Social Reconstruction (1916). Also in An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1943), reprinted in Unpopular Essays (1950) and collected in 'An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish', The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell (2009), 61.
Science quotes on:  |  Crank (18)  |  Error (321)  |  Fashionable (15)  |  Infinite (233)  |  More (2559)  |  Possibility (164)  |  Truth (1062)  |  Untruth (3)

Who ever heard a theologian preface his creed, or a politician conclude his speech with an estimate of the probable error of his opinion.
— Bertrand Russell
In The Scientific Outlook (1931, 1954), 66.
Science quotes on:  |  Conclude (65)  |  Creed (27)  |  Error (321)  |  Estimate (57)  |  Opinion (281)  |  Politician (38)  |  Preface (8)  |  Probable (21)  |  Speech (61)  |  Theologian (22)


See also:
  • 18 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Russell's birth.
  • Bertrand Russell - context of quote “A process which led from the amoeba to man” - Medium image (500 x 350 px)
  • Bertrand Russell - context of quote “A process which led from the amoeba to man” - Large image (800 x 600 px)

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 Einstein • Isaac Newton • Lord Kelvin • Charles Darwin • Srinivasa Ramanujan • Carl Sagan • Florence Nightingale • Thomas Edison • Aristotle • Marie Curie • Benjamin Franklin • Winston Churchill • Galileo Galilei • Sigmund Freud • Robert Bunsen • Louis Pasteur • Theodore Roosevelt • Abraham Lincoln • Ronald Reagan • Leonardo DaVinci • Michio Kaku • Karl Popper • Johann Goethe • Robert Oppenheimer • Charles Kettering  ... (more people)

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- 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


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