Quotations about   believability

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A middle-aged white male wearing a tie and saying anything with some conviction will be believed by at least 55 percent of people, especially if they already want to believe it. (Sixty-five percent if he has a classy accent.)

Bill Oakley
Bill Oakley (b. 1966) American television writer and producer
“One of the defenses of Trump is — literally — a TV-cartoon joke,” Washington Post (14 Nov 2019)
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Added on 9-Jul-21 | Last updated 9-Jul-21
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Besides, there are two things that will be believed of any man whatsoever, and one of them is that he has taken to drink.

Booth Tarkington (1869-1946) American novelist and dramatist
Penrod, ch. 10 (1914)
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Added on 25-Jan-16 | Last updated 25-Jan-16
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Life is a very bad novelist. It is chaotic and ludicrous.

Javier Marías (b. 1951) Spanish novelist, translator, columnist
“Javier Marías, The Art of Fiction No. 190,” Interview with Sarah Fay, The Paris Review (Winter 2006)
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See also Twain.
Added on 24-Sep-15 | Last updated 24-Sep-15
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With a view to poetry, an impossible thing that is believable is preferable to an unbelievable thing that is possible.

[πρός τε γὰρ τὴν ποίησιν αἱρετώτερον πιθανὸν ἀδύνατον ἢ ἀπίθανον καὶ δυνατόν.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics [Περὶ ποιητικῆς, De Poetica], ch. 24 / 1461b.11 (c. 335 BC) [tr. Sachs (2006)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

  • "The poet should prefer probable impossibilities to improbable possibilities." [tr. Butcher (1895)]
  • "A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility." [tr. Bywater (1909)]
  • "You should prefer a plausible impossibility to an unconvincing possibility." [tr. Margoliouth (1911)]
  • "For poetic effect a convincing impossibility is preferable to that which is unconvincing though possible." [tr. Fyfe (1932)]
  • "Probable impossibilities are preferable to implausible possibilities." [tr. Halliwell (1986)]
  • "In relation to the needs of the composition, a believable impossibility is preferable to an unbelievable possibility." [tr. Janko (1987)]
  • "With respect to the requirement of art, the probable impossible is always preferable to the improbable possible."
  • "For the purposes of poetry a convincing impossibility is preferable to an unconvincing possibility."
Added on 21-Feb-11 | Last updated 10-May-21
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The reason that truth is stranger than fiction is that fiction has to have a rational thread running through it in order to be believable, whereas reality may be totally irrational.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
(Attributed)

See Twain.
Added on 14-Aug-09 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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