Quotations about   assumption

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Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make — bombs for instance, or strawberry shortcake — if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble. Making assumptions simply means believing things are a certain way with little or no evidence that shows you are correct, and you can see how this can lead to terrible trouble. For instance, one morning you might wake up and make the assumption that your bed was in the same place that it always was, even though you would have no real evidence that this was so. But when you got out of your bed, you might discover that it has floated out to sea, and now you would be in terrible trouble all because of the incorrect assumption that you’d made. You can see that it is better not to make too many assumptions, particularly in the morning.

Lemony Snicket (b. 1970) American author, screenwriter, musician (pseud. for Daniel Handler)
The Austere Academy (2000)
Added on 20-Jan-21 | Last updated 20-Jan-21
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Few of us take the pains to study the origin of our cherished convictions; indeed, we have a natural repugnance to so doing. We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to them. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.

James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) American historian and educator
The Mind in the Making, ch. 4 “Rationalizing” (1921)
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Added on 20-Oct-20 | Last updated 20-Oct-20
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We are all more blind to what we have than to what we have not.

Audre Lorde (1934-1992) American writer, feminist, civil rights activist
“Notes from a Trip to Russia,” Sister Outsider (1984)
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Added on 19-Oct-20 | Last updated 19-Oct-20
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This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones we really believe, and those we never think to question.

Orson Scott Card (b. 1951) American author
Speaker for the Dead (1986)
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Added on 25-Aug-20 | Last updated 25-Aug-20
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Men of all degrees should form this prudent habit:
Never serve a rabbit stew before you catch the rabbit.

James Thurber (1894-1961) American cartoonist and writer
“Ivory, Apes, and People,” Further Fables for Our Time (1956)
Added on 24-Apr-20 | Last updated 24-Apr-20
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Ability hits the mark where presumption overshoots and diffidence falls short.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
(Attributed)

Also attributed to Golda Meir.
Added on 10-Jul-17 | Last updated 10-Jul-17
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It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young.

Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) Austrian zoologist, ethologist, ornithologist
On Aggression, ch. 2 (1966)
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Added on 9-May-17 | Last updated 9-May-17
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At its core, therefore, science is a form of arrogance control.

Carol Tavris (b. 1944) American social psychologist and author
Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts (2008) [with Elliot Aronson]
Added on 9-Aug-16 | Last updated 9-Aug-16
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Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
Themes and Variations (1950)
Added on 3-Dec-14 | Last updated 3-Dec-14
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Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in. If you challenge your own, you won’t be so quick to accept the unchallenged assumptions of others. You’ll be a lot less likely to be caught up in bias or prejudice or be influenced by people who ask you to hand over your brains, your soul, or your money because they have everything all figured out for you.

Alan Alda (b. 1936) American actor [b. Alponso Joseph D'Abruzzo]
Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself, ch. 2 “Lingering at the Door” (2007)
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Originally given at the commencement speech at Connecticut College in May, 1980, where his daughter Eve was graduating.
Added on 13-Dec-12 | Last updated 30-Oct-19
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To avoid the various foolish opinions to which mankind are prone, no superhuman genius is required. A few simple rules will keep you, not from all error, but from silly error. 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. He did not do so because he thought he knew. Thinking that you know when in fact you don’t is a fatal mistake, to which we are all prone. I believe myself that hedgehogs eat black beetles, because I have been told that they do; but if I were writing a book on the habits of hedgehogs, I should not commit myself until I had seen one enjoying this unappetizing diet.

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish,” Unpopular Essays (1950)
Added on 15-Mar-12 | Last updated 2-Jul-15
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War is the unfolding of miscalculations.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
The Guns of August (1962)

In Stilwell and the American Experience in China (1970), she gave this as "History is the unfolding of miscalculations."
Added on 26-Jul-11 | Last updated 23-Jun-15
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Health is not valued, till Sickness comes.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #2478 (1732)
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Added on 4-Oct-10 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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To punish a man because he has committed a crime, or because he is believed, though unjustly, to have committed a crime, is not persecution. To punish a man, because we infer from the nature of some doctrine which he holds, or from the conduct of other persons who hold the same doctrines with him, that he will commit a crime, is persecution, and is, in every case, foolish and wicked.

Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) English writer and politician
“Hallam’s Constitutional History,” Edinburgh Review (Sep 1828)
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Review of Henry Hallam, The Constitutional History of England, from the Accession of Henry VII to George II (1827).
Added on 26-Jul-07 | Last updated 16-Jan-20
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The least questioned assumptions are often the most questionable.

Paul Broca (1824-1880) French pathologist, neurosurgeon, anthropologist
“Quelques propositions sur les tumeurs dites cancéreuses” (16 Apr 1849)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-May-15
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