Quotations about   confession

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If a man has reported to you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make any defense to what has been told you: but reply, The man did not know the rest of my faults, for he would not have mentioned these only.

Epictetus (c.55-c.135) Greek (Phrygian) Stoic philosopher
Enchiridion, 33 (c. AD 135) [tr. Long (1888)]
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Alt. trans.: "If anyone tells you that a certain person speaks ill of you, do not make excuses about what is said of you, but answer, 'He was ignorant of my other faults, else he would have not mentioned these alone.'" [tr. Higginson (1948)]
Added on 12-Sep-18 | Last updated 12-Sep-18
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Let a defect, which is possibly but small, appear undisguised. A fault concealed is presumed to be great.

[Simpliciter pateat vitium fortasse pusillum:
Quod tegitur, magnum creditur esse malum]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 3, Epigram 42 [tr. Bohn (1871)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Conceal a flaw, and the world will imagine the worst."
  • "Simple decays men easily pass by, // But, hid, suspect some great deformity" [tr. Anon. (1695)]
  • "Double we see those faults which art would mend, // Plain downright ugliness would less offend." [tr. Sedley]
  • "Let a blemish, which perhaps is small, simply show. The flow which is hidden is deemed greater than it is." [tr. Ker (1919)]
Added on 1-Nov-17 | Last updated 1-Nov-17
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If you torture the data long enough, Nature will confess.
Coase - torture the data - wist_info quote

Ronald Coase (1910-2013) British economist, academic, author
(Attributed)

Criticizing econometricians. Cited as early as 1977. Variants:
  • "If you torture data long enough, it will confess to anything you'd like."
  • "If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything."
Added on 25-Apr-16 | Last updated 25-Apr-16
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Get in line in that processional,
Step into that small confessional.
There the guy who’s got religion’ll
Tell you if your sin’s original.
If it is, try playin’ it safer,
Drink the wine and chew the wafer.
Two, four, six, eight,
Time to transubstantiate!

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“The Vatican Rag,” That Was the Year That Was (1965)
Added on 10-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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That’s not a nuts thing, that’s a “humans hate to admit error even as they stand there, black and smoldering, with the stub of a cigarette in one hand, in the middle of a wide crater containing them and the remains of a sign that once read ‘DANGER: VOLATILE EXPLOSIVES'” thing. It’s pretty universal.

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
“Proposal for a new FAQ or two,” rec.arts.sf.written, Usenet (10 Jun 2005)
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Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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None but the well-bred man knows how to confess a fault, or acknowledge himself in error.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Nov 1738)
Added on 12-Feb-16 | Last updated 12-Feb-16
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Admit thy guilt and and seek forgiveness, for the denial of guilt is two iniquities.

Solomon ibn Gabirol (fl. 11th Century) Andalusian poet and Jewish philosopher [a.k.a. Solomon ben Judah, Avicebron]
Choice of Pearls, 109 [tr. Cohen (1925)]
Added on 30-Nov-15 | Last updated 30-Nov-15
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Laziness is the sin most willingly confessed to, since it implies talents greater than have yet appeared.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays (2001)
Added on 23-Oct-15 | Last updated 23-Oct-15
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A very desperate habit; one that is rarely cured. Apology is only egotism wrong side out. Nine times out of ten, the first thing a man’s companion knows of his short-comings is from his apology.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1860)
Added on 21-Jul-14 | Last updated 21-Jul-14
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There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“Journalism and the Higher Law,” Liberty and the News (1920)

See Rabelais.
Added on 6-Apr-11 | Last updated 19-Apr-18
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If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.

Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954) US Supreme Court Justice
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943) [majority opinion]
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Oct-17
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Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
In More Maxims of Mark [ed. M. Johnson (1925)]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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