From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search


There's a quote I cannot quite recall about how to advance a new theory one must simply wait for the old guard to die out.

Mistakes in Science, Nature of Science[edit]

This Box quote:

"All models are wrong, but some are useful". - George E. P. Box

is now in the "Mistakes in Science" section.

It should be in the "Nature of Science" section. It is closely related to this Popper quote:

"Science may be described as the art of systematic oversimplification." - Karl Popper

Which is already in the "Nature of Science" section

Disregard the above message - I just made the change myself - I didn't realize how open this system really is - remarkable - I must be careful of typos!!

Mistakes in science[edit]

What are the criteria for entries in the Mistakes in science section? -- 14:40, 25 September 2007 (UTC)

Answers vs. questions[edit]

I heard this quote on a science program in the 1980s:

“The scientist’s job isn’t to find answers but to find questions.”

Does anyone know where this is from? Morganfitzp 13:20, 21 June 2008 (UTC)


  • The great testimony of history shows how often in fact the development of science has emerged in response to technological and even economic needs, and how in the economy of social effort, science, even of the most abstract and recondite kind, pays for itself again and again in providing the basis for radically new technological developments. In fact, most people—when they think of science as a good thing, when they think of it as worthy of encouragement, when they are willing to see their governments spend substance upon it, when they greatly do honor to men who in science have attained some eminence-have in mind that the conditions of their life have been altered just by such technology, of which they may be reluctant to be deprived.
  • Start by eliminating the possibility of empty models by praying that Heaven will no longer put this invention of the Devil in our way. To do this, we add a constant c to our language ...
    • Proof of the compactness theorem by Henkin's method
    • Bruno Poizat and M. Klein, A Course in Model Theory: An Introduction to Contemporary Mathematical Logic, unidentified edition, page 52.
  • Who are we? The answer to this question is not only one of the tasks but the task of science.
  • I see no good reasons why the views given in this volume should shock the religious sensibilities of anyone.
    • Charles Darwin, The Origin Of Species, 1859, unidentified edition/chapter/page
  • One of the greatest gifts science has brought to the world is continuing elimination of the supernatural, and it was a lesson that my father passed on to me, that knowledge liberates mankind from superstition. We can live our lives without the constant fear that we have offended this or that deity who must be placated by incantation or sacrifice, or that we are at the mercy of devils or the Fates. With increasing knowledge, the intellectual darkness that surrounds us is illuminated and we learn more of the beauty and wonder of the natural world.
    • James D. Watson, Darwin: The Indelible Stamp: The Evolution of an Idea, 2005, Running Press, unidentified edition/chapter/page
  • The Scientific Revolution turns us away from the older sayings to discover the lost authorization in Nature. What we have been through in these last four millennia is the slow inexorable profaning of our species. And in the last part of the second millennium A.D., that process is apparently becoming complete. It is the Great Human Irony of our noblest and greatest endeavor on this planet that in the quest for authorization, in our reading of the language of God in Nature, we should read there so clearly that we have been so mistaken.
    • Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, 1976, unidentified edition/chapter/page
  • That Professor Goddard with his "chair" in Clark College and the countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution does not know the relation of action to reaction, and of the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react — to say that would be absurd. Of course, he only seems to lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.
    • About Robert Goddard's rocket work
    • Unidentified New York Times editorial, 1921
    • Eventually retracted in New York Times, unidentified article/editorial, July 17, 1969
  • All science is either physics or stamp collecting.
    • Ernest Rutherford
    • Variation: In science, there is only physics; all the rest is stamp collecting.
  • Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
  • Ethical axioms are found and tested not very differently from the axioms of science. Truth is what stands the test of experience.
  • In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore ... in the Old Silurian Period the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long ... seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. ... There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
  • of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.
  • Science is a wonderful thing if one does not have to earn one's living at it.
  • Science is the pavement in the pathway to opportunities
    • Jordan Campbell
  • Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do.
  • Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world.
  • Science may be described as the art of systematic oversimplification.
  • Scientific thought is the common heritage of mankind.
  • The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.
  • To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.
  • Physics is like sex: Sure, it may have practical results, but that is not the reason we do it.
  • Science is always wrong. It never solves a problem without creating ten more.
  • Skeptical scrutiny is the means, in both science and religion, by which deep thoughts can be winnowed from deep nonsense.
  • Who ordered that?
    • Theorist Isidor Isaac Rabi when the muon was identified
  • Science is nothing but developed perception, integrated intent, common sense rounded out and minutely articulated.

Science and religion[edit]

See also: Creationism and Intelligent Design, Evolution.
  • The Christian church, in its attitude toward science, shows the mind of a more or less enlightened man of the Thirteenth Century. It no longer believes that the earth is flat, but it is still convinced that prayer can cure after medicine fails.
  • A contradiction (between science and religion) is out of the question. What follows from science are, again and again, clear indications of God's activity which can be so strongly perceived that Kepler dared to say (for us it seems daring, not for him) that he could "almost touch God with his hand in the Universe".
    • Walter Heitler
  • The deepest intelligence of philosophy and science are inseparable from a religious view of the world.
  • The difference between myth and science is the difference between divine inspiration of 'unaided reason' on the one hand and theories developed in observational contact with the real world on the other. [It is] the difference between the belief in prophets and critical thinking, between Credo quia absurdum [I believe because it is absurd—Tertullian.] and De omnibus est dubitandum [Everything should be questioned—Descartes.]. To try to write a grand cosmical drama leads necessarily to myth. To try to let knowledge substitute ignorance in increasingly large regions of space and time is science.
  • The discovery of natural law is a meeting with God.
  • I am a Christian which means that I believe in the deity of Christ, like Tycho de Brahe, Copernicus, Descartes, Newton, Leibnitz, Pascal… like all great astronomers mathematicians of the past.
  • I stand before you as somebody who is both physicist and a priest, and I want to hold together my scientific and my religious insights and experiences. I want to hold them together, as far as I am able, without dishonesty and without compartmentalism. I don't want to be a priest on Sunday and a physicist on Monday; I want to be both on both days.
  • It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.
  • Je n'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse.
    • Pierre-Simon Laplace
    • Translation: I have no need of that hypothesis.
    • Reputed reply to Emperor Napoleon I of France, who had asked why he hadn't mentioned God in his discourse on secular variations of the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter.
  • Matter and mind are not separate, they are aspects of one energy. Look at the mind as a function of matter and you have science; look at matter as the product of the mind and you have religion.
  • The order, the symmetry, the harmony enchant us…God is pure order. He is the originator of universal harmony.
  • Overwhelming evidences of an intelligence and benevolent intention surround us, show us the whole of nature through the work of a free will and teach us that all alive beings depend on an eternal creator-ruler.
  • 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.
  • Science seems to me to teach in the highest and strongest manner the great truth which is embodied in the Christian conception of entire surrender to the will of God. Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.
  • Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
  • Since religion intrinsically rejects empirical methods, there should never be any attempt to reconcile scientific theories with religion. An infinitely old universe, always evolving may not be compatible with the Book of Genesis. However, religions such as Buddhism get along without having any explicit creation mythology and are in no way contradicted by a universe without a beginning or end. Creatio ex nihilo, even as religious doctrine, only dates to around AD 200. The key is not to confuse myth and empirical results, or religion and science.
  • The wonderful arrangement and harmony of the cosmos would only originate in the plan of an almighty omniscient being. This is and remains my greatest comprehension.
  • Those to whom God has imparted religion by intuition are very fortunate and justly convinced. But to those who do not have it, we can give it only by reasoning, waiting for God to give them spiritual insight…
  • Through steady observation and a meaningful contact with the divined order of the world's structure, arranged by God's wisdom, - who would not be guided to admire the Builder who creates all!
  • We may conclude that from what science teaches us, there is in nature an order independent of man's existence, a meaningful order to which nature and man are subordinate. Both Religion and science require faith in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations…..
  • Where there is the necessary technical skill to move mountains, there is no need for the faith that moves mountains.
  • "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one."
  • I didn't arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind
  • The lives and writings of the mystics of all great religions bear witness to religious experiences of great intensity, in which considerable changes are effected in the quality of consciousness. Profound absorption in prayer or meditation can bring about a deepening and widening, a brightening and intensifying, of consciousness, accompanied by a transporting feeling of rapture and bliss. The contrast between these states and normal conscious awareness is so great that the mystic believes his experiences to be manifestations of the divine; and given the contrast, this assumption is quite understandable. Mystical experiences are also characterized by a marked reduction or temporary exclusion of the multiplicity of sense-perceptions and restless thoughts. This relative unification of mind is then interpreted as a union or communion with the One God. ... The psychological facts underlying those religious experiences are accepted by the Buddhist and are well-known to him; but he carefully distinguishes the experiences themselves from the theological interpretations imposed upon them. ... The meditator will not be overwhelmed by any uncontrolled emotions and thoughts evoked by his singular experience, and will thus be able to avoid interpretations of that experience not warranted by the facts. Hence a Buddhist meditator, while benefiting from the refinement of consciousness he has achieved, will be able to see these meditative experiences for what they are; and he will further know that they are without any abiding substance that could be attributed to a deity manifesting itself to his mind. Therefore, the Buddhist’s conclusion must be that the highest mystical states do not provide evidence for the existence of a personal God or an impersonal godhead.
  • This method of Bare Attention, so helpful to mind-knowledge and, through it, to world-knowledge, tallies with the procedure and attitude of the true scientist and scholar: clear definition of subject-matter and terms; unprejudiced receptivity for the instruction that comes out of the things themselves; exclusion, or at least reduction, of the subjective factor in judgment; deferring of judgment until a careful examination of facts has been made.


  • I believe there is no philosophical high-road in science, with epistemological signposts. No, we are in a jungle and find our way by trial and error, building our road behind us as we proceed.
  • Nothing in this world is to be feared... only understood.
  • Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.
  • Since the mathematicians have invaded the theory of relativity, I do not understand it myself anymore.
  • You should never bet against anything in science at odds of more than about 10 to the 12 to 1 against.

Science and culture[edit]

  • Can science ever be immune from experiments conceived out of prejudices and stereotypes, conscious or not? (Which is not to suggest that it cannot in discrete areas identify and locate verifiable phenemonena in nature.) I await the study that says lesbians have a region of the hypothalamus that resembles straight men and I would not be surprised if, at this very moment, some scientist somewhere is studying brains of deceased Asians to see if they have an enlarged "math region" of the brain.
    • Kay Diaz, Z (unidentified periodical, possibly Z Magazine), unidentified article, December 1992.
  • The fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.
  • The general root of superstition is that men observe when things hit, and not when they miss, and commit to memory the one, and pass over the other.
  • It's not exactly rocket science.
    • Said about something easy or self-explanatory.
    • Anonymous
  • Tell a man that there are 300 billion stars in the universe, and he'll believe you.... Tell him that a bench has wet paint upon it and he'll have to touch it to be sure.
  • We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. We have also arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.
  • Science is the refusal to believe in the basis of hope.

Mistakes in science[edit]

  • The science of Psychiatry is now where the science of Medicine was before germs were discovered.
  • There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.
  • There will never be a bigger plane built.
    • A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin-engine plane that holds ten people
  • I am not accustomed to saying anything with certainty after only one or two observations.

The Science Quotes Page[edit]

is nice, but it would be great if the quotes were arranged by topic. Is there a page for that perchance? 14:46, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

Off-topic quote?[edit]

Can User:Mdd provide more information about why the quote below is off-topic? Williams is criticizing a very popular anti-science position that claims natural science's truth claims are "socially constructed." ~ Peter1c (talk) 21:38, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

  • A further turn is to be found in some "unmasking" accounts of natural science, which aim to show that its pretensions to deliver the truth are unfounded, because of social forces that control its activities. Unlike the case of history, these do not use truths of the same kind; they do not apply science to the criticism of science. They apply the social sciences, and typically depend on the remarkable assumption that the sociology of knowledge is in a better position to deliver truth about science than science is to deliver truth about the world.

After adding this quote to the Sociology of knowledge lemma, I noticed the same quote was already present in the Bernard Williams, Epistemology, Skepticism, Truth, Social constructionism, Deconstruction, Postmodernism & Science lemma's. Now I removed the last three, because they are not on topic. While the author and source are very notable, the quote itself is not. It doesn't stand on it's own, and just slightly mentions truth, and not even Epistemology and Skepticism. I think this quote should be removed there as well. I think that only if a quote is more notable, it should be added to multiple lemma's in Wikiquote. -- Mdd (talk) 22:01, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

Hi Mdd. Thanks for the reply. I have no issue with removing this quote from Postmodernism and Deconstruction, since there is another Williams quote on those pages that offers a similar argument. I understand the quote is challenging to understand, but it does express a notable and important position about the epistemic status of science, and I think meany Wikiquote readers will find it helpful and informative, as it was for me. ~ Peter1c (talk) 22:12, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, I think that, if there is such "notable and important position," it will be acknowledged by secondary sources. The fact that the source itself is cited 1000+ times, suggests that the work does contain one or more "notable and important position(s)," and these can be found by examining secondary sources. -- Mdd (talk) 22:40, 5 September 2016 (UTC)
The quote is very clearly on-topic for the Science article, being about how the nature of natural science is misconstrued by some practitioners of social "science". (Nor is it so obscure or abstruse that nobody quotes it: see Michael W. Hill, The Impact of Information on Society (2nd edition reprint 2005) p. 41.) ~ Ningauble (talk) 13:23, 6 September 2016 (UTC)
Thanks, I have re-added the quote with the secondary source. -- Mdd (talk) 13:47, 6 September 2016 (UTC)