Quotes of reason

See also:
Atheist quotes

Quotes marked with an asterisk (*) had first been translated to swedish when I read them (unless they were originally made in Swedish), and then I've translated them back to english. Therefore they may differ slightly from the original quotes, but here they are:

There is not a truth existing which I fear [...]
or would wish unknown to the whole world.

Thomas Jefferson

"Sadly, a prize for peace is a rarity in this world. Most nations have monuments or memorials to war, bronze salutations to heroic battles, archways of triumph. But peace has no parade, no pantheon of victory."

Nobel Lecture held by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

Born to lose
Live to win

Lemmy Kilmister

"The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is Reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall."

Thomas Paine (The Age of Reason, 1794)

"Whenever I have found that I have blundered, or that my work has been imperfected, and when I have been contemptuously criticised, and even when I have been overpraised, so that I have felt mortified, it has been my greatest comfort to say hundreds of times to myself that 'I have worked as hard as I could, and no man can do more than this.'"

Charles Darwin (Autobiography)

"They came for the communists, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a communist;
They came for the socialists, and I did not speak up because I was not a socialist;
They came for the union leaders, and I did not speak up because I wasn't a union leader;
They came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak up for me."

Martin Niemöller, 1892-1984 (Note, this poem exists in two versions. In the other one, the word "jews" is replaced with "protestants". This seems kind of odd because Niemöller was a protestant pastor who tried to make the church cooperate with the nazis).

"Under the present dispensation, the great majority of factories are little despotisms, benevolent in some cases, malevolent in others. Even where benevolence prevails, passive obedience is demanded by the workers, who are ruled by overseers, not of their own election, but appointed from above. In theory they may be the subjects of a democratic state; but in practice they spend the whole of their working lives as the subjects of a petty tyrant."

Aldous Huxley (Ends and Means, 1937, p. 75)

"Military intelligence is a contradiction in terms"


"When you can't say Fuck, you can't say Fuck The Government"
Lenny Bruce

"What can be said at all can be said clearly; and whereof one cannot speak thereof one must remain silent /.../ The limit can, therefore, only be drawn in language and what lies on the other side of the limit will be simply nonsense."
Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus Logicus-Philosophicus, 1922)

"Minds are like parachutes - They only function when open"


"We are each and everyone responsible for what we allow to be the motive of our actions. If evolutionism teaches that the best fitted are those, who have the greatest expectations to survive in the struggle for existance and have more prosperous and fittier offspring, it is our own choice if we see it as our moral obligation to limit the effects of this or to hasten the course of nature. Responsibility cannot be delegated, not even to science." [my translation]

Hertha Hanson (Alkemi, romantik och rasvetenskap, Nya Doxa 1994)

"It is a fatal fault to reason whilst observing, though so necessary beforehand and so useful afterwards."

Charles Darwin

"Quantity of material production can only be a means to a further end, not an end in itself."

Sir Julian Huxley (The Humanist Frame, 1959)

"Aristotle was famous for knowing everything. He taught that the brain exists merely to cool the blood and is not involved in the process of thinking. This is true only of certain persons."

Will Cuppy (The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody)

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is"


"Experience has taught me a technique for dealing with such people [...] I counter the devotees of the Great Pyramid by adoration of the Sphinx; and the devotee of nuts by pointing out that hazelnuts and walnuts are as deleterious as other foods and only Brazil nuts should be tolerated. But when I was younger I had not yet acquired this technique, with the result that my contacts with cranks were sometimes alarming."

Bertrand Russell (In the Company of Cranks, Saturday Review, Aug. 11, 1956)

"The man who enjoys marching in line and file to the strains of music falls below my contempt: he received is great brain by mistake; the spinal cord would have been amply sufficient."

Albert Einstein (Ideas and Opinions, p.10.)

"Scientists and educators alike need to realize that the educated person is not the person who can answer the questions, but the person who can question the answers."

Theodore Schick Jr. (The End of Science?, Skeptical Inquirer, Vol 21, No 2, March/April, 1997)

"Science has never sought to ally herself with civil power. She has never subjected anyone to mental torment, physical torment, least of all death, for the purpose of promoting her ideas."

John W. Draper

Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity"

Robert Heinlein (Logic of Empire, 1941)

"[T]he more the public is confused, the easier it falls prey to doctrines of pseudo-science which may at some future date recieve the backing of politically powerful groups [...]a renaissance of German quasi-science paralleled the rise of Hitler."

Martin Gardner (Fads & Fallacies in the name of science, 2nd edit., 1957)

"Draft beer, not people"


"Under carefully controlled experimental circumstances, an animal will behave as it damned well pleases."

The Harvard Law of Animal Behavior

"...everything in psychosocial evolution which can properly be called advance, or progress, or improvement, is due directionaly to the increase or improvement of knowledge."

Sir Julian Huxley (The Humanist Frame, 1959)

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty"

George Bernard Shaw

"If you don't think that logic is a good method for determining what to believe, make an attempt to convince me of that without using logic. No one has even bothered to try yet."

Brett Lemoine

"If you don't think that science is a good method for determining what to believe, make an attempt to convince me of that without using the scientific method or any scientific discoveries."


"If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them."

Isaac Asimov

"For both the patient and practitioner to be blind to the clinical realities is an unacceptable version of the 'double blind'."

W. T. Jarvis

*"The thesis that the living creatures have always been composed different species was established in a time where no sufficient observations had been made and when science hardly existed. This thesis is denied every day by those who have made accurate observations, who have long time observed nature and who have had the benefit from studying our musei's large and rich collections. "

Jean Baptiste Lamarck

"No man treats a car as foolishly as he treats another human being. When the car will not go, he does not attribute its annoying behaviour to sin; he does not say 'you are a wicked motorcar and I shall not give you any more petroleum until you go. He attempts to find out what is wrong and to set it right."

Bertrand Russell (Has Religion made Useful Contributions to Civilization?, 1930)

"I would defend the liberty of concenting adult creationists to practice whatever intellectual perversions they like in the privacy of their own homes; but it is also necessary to protect the young and innocent."

Arthur C. Clarke

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Lord John Acton (In a letter to Mandell Creighton, April 5, 1887.)

"Whenever they burn books, they will also, in the end, burn people."

Heinrich Heine

"Chance is the only source of true novelty."

Francis Crick

"In a world torn by every kind of fundamentalism -- religious, ethnic, nationalist and tribal - we must grant first place to economic fundamentalism, with its religious conviction that the market, left to its own devices, is capable of resolving all our problems. This faith has its own ayatollahs. Its church is neo-liberalism; its creed is profit; its prayers are for monopolies."

Carlos Fuentes (Mexico) from World Press Review (Nov. '95) p. 47

Other Quotes