The supposed wisdom of proverbs is mainly imaginary. As a rule, proverbs go in pairs which say opposite things. The opposite of “More haste, less speed” is “A stitch in time saves nine.” The opposite of “Take care of the pence and the pounds will take care of themselves,” “Penny wise, pound foolish.” The opposite of “Two heads are better than one,” is “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” And so on. The great advantage of a proverb in argument is that it is supposed to be incontrovertible, as embodying the quintessential sagacity of our ancestors. But when once you have realised that proverbs go in pairs which say opposite things you can never again be downed by a proverb; you merely quote the opposite.

Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“On Proverbs,” New York American (1932-11-16)

Added on 30-Mar-23 | Last updated 30-Mar-23
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