Quotations by Babbage, Charles


Nor let it be feared that erroneous deductions may be made from such recorded facts: the errors which arise from the absence of facts are far more numerous and more durable than those which result from unsound reasoning respecting true data.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) English mathematician, computer pioneer, philosopher
On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, ch. 7 (1832)
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Sometimes paraphrased, "Errors using inadequate data are much less than those using no data at all."
Added on 12-Feb-21 | Last updated 12-Feb-21
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On two occasions I have been asked, — “Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?” In one case a member of the Upper, and in the other a member of the Lower, House put this question. I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) English mathematician, computer pioneer, philosopher
Passages from the Life of a Philosopher, ch. 5 “Difference Engine No. 1” (1864)
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It is difficult to pronounce on the opinion of the ministers of our Church as a body: one portion of them, by far the least informed, protests against anything which can advance the honour and the interests of science, because, in their limited and mistaken view, science is adverse to religion. This is not the place to argue that great question. It is sufficient to remark, that the best-informed and most enlightened men of all creeds and pursuits, agree that truth can never damage truth, and that every truth is allied indissolubly by chains more or less circuitous with all other truths; whilst error, at every step we make in its diffusion, becomes not only wider apart and more discordant from all truths, but has also the additional chance of destruction from all rival errors.

Charles Babbage (1791-1871) English mathematician, computer pioneer, philosopher
The Exposition of 1851: Views Of The Industry, The Science, and the Government Of England, ch. 17 (1851)
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Added on 19-Feb-21 | Last updated 19-Feb-21
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