Quotations about   conviction

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Fools are stubborn, and the stubborn are fools, and the more erroneous their judgment is, the more they hold onto it.

[Todo necio es persuadido, y todo persuadido necio; y quanto mas erroneo su dictamen, es mayor su tenacidad.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 183 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

Every fool is fully convinced, and every one fully persuaded is a fool: the more erroneous his judgment the more firmly he holds it.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Added on 13-May-22 | Last updated 12-May-22
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Herr Docktor Getwin Mittelmind (PhD, MD, BFA, University of Salzburg) was a spark who specialized in mad psychology. A specialized field to be sure. He was not locked away in Castle Heterodyne because he built giant anteaters. No, he was locked away in Castle Heterodyne because he could take a perfectly ordinary group of people and within six days they would build a giant anteater — because it was the logical thing to do.

Phil Foglio (b. 1956) American writer, cartoonist
Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (2020) [with Kaja Foglio]
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Added on 13-Dec-21 | Last updated 13-Dec-21
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We were like a lot of clocks, he thought, all striking different hours, all convinced we were telling the right time.

Susan Ertz
Susan Ertz (1887-1985) Anglo-American writer
The Story of Julian (1931)
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Added on 9-Nov-21 | Last updated 9-Nov-21
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A man may be in as just possession of Truth as of a City, and yet be forced to surrender.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Religio Medici, Part 1, sec. 6 (1643)
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Added on 29-Sep-21 | Last updated 29-Sep-21
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History is not a catalogue but a version of events … a convincing version of events. If an historian is any good, he is convinced by his own version of events and then tries to put this conviction across.

A. J. P. Taylor (1906-1990) British historian, journalist, broadcaster [Alan John Percivale Taylor]
“The view from Twisden Rd.”, interview by Duncan Fallowell, The Spectator (28 May 1983)
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Added on 13-Sep-21 | Last updated 13-Sep-21
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The men who succeed best in public life are those who take the risk of standing by their own convictions.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“Gustave Schleicher,” Speech, House of Representatives (17 Feb 1879)
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Added on 29-Jan-21 | Last updated 29-Jan-21
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When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and true maxim “that aa drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.” If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend. Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say what you will, is the great high-road to his reason, and which, when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing his judgement of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause really be a just one.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Washingtonian Temperance Society, Springfield, Illinois (22 Feb 1842)
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Added on 21-Jan-21 | Last updated 21-Jan-21
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How easy it is to make people believe a lie, and how hard it is to undo that work again!

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Dictation (2 Dec 1906), The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 2 (2013)
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A sentiment that may be behind the spurious Twain quotation, "It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled."
Added on 29-Oct-20 | Last updated 29-Oct-20
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The difference between a conviction and a prejudice is that you can explain a conviction without getting angry.

(Other Authors and Sources)
Anonymous

No definitive source is found for this quotation. Frequently attributed to Gregory Benford, Deeper than the Darkness (1970), but it has shown up anonymously at least as early as 1951 as "filler" material in periodicals. Also sometimes attributed to Samuel Butler or Dorothy Sarnoff, but not with any citation.
Added on 24-Aug-20 | Last updated 24-Aug-20
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One person with a belief, is a social power equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
Considerations on Representative Government, ch. 1 (1861)
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Often misquoted, "One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests."
Added on 28-Jul-20 | Last updated 28-Jul-20
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It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!

Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) American writer, journalist, activist, politician
I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked, ch. 20 (1935)
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A regular comment of his on the campaign trail. The wording is Sinclair's, though there are earlier references with the same sentiment (see here for more discussion).

Often misattributed to H. L. Mencken. (e.g., "Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced") though not found in his work.
Added on 16-Jul-20 | Last updated 16-Jul-20
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Every fool is fully convinced, and every one fully persuaded is a fool: the more erroneous his judgment, the more firmly he holds it.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 183 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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Added on 13-Mar-20 | Last updated 4-Apr-22
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Acquitting the guilty convicts the judge.

[Iudex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur.]

Publilius Syrus (d. 42 BC) Assyrian slave, writer, philosopher [less correctly Publius Syrus]
Sentences [Sententiae], #296
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Motto of the Edinburgh Review. Alt. trans.:
  • "When the guilty man is let off, the judge stands condemned."
  • "The judge is condemned when the criminal is acquitted." [tr. Lyman (1856), #868]
There were multiple collections made of Publilius Syrus' Sententiae in Antiquity and the Middle Ages. This appears in all of them, but often with different line/sentence numbers, incl. #256 and #257.
Added on 5-Feb-20 | Last updated 5-Feb-20
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When blithe to argument I come,
Though armed with facts, and merry,
May Providence protect me from
The fool as adversary,
Whose mind to him a kingdom is
Where reason lacks dominion,
Who calls conviction prejudice
And prejudice opinion.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“Moody Reflections,” The New Yorker (13 Feb 1954)
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Added on 5-Feb-20 | Last updated 5-Feb-20
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Be not afraid! In admitting a creator, refuse not to examine his creation; and take not the assertions of creatures like yourselves, in place of the evidence of your senses and the conviction of your understanding.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Course of Popular Lectures, Lecture 3, “Of the more Important Divisions and Essential Parts of Knowledge” (1829)
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Added on 20-Sep-19 | Last updated 20-Sep-19
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Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that, if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe, say, or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.

Rick Warren (b. 1954) American Christian pastor and author
“Rick Warren on Muslims, Evangelism & Missions,” interview with Brandon A. Cox, Christian Post (2 Mar 2012)
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Added on 27-May-19 | Last updated 27-May-19
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The intoxication of anger, like that of the grape, shows us to others, but hides us from ourselves; and we injure our own cause, in the opinion of the world, when we too passionately and eagerly defend it.

Charles Caleb "C. C." Colton (1780-1832) English cleric, writer
Lacon, Vol. 1, #240 (1820)
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Added on 18-Jan-19 | Last updated 18-Jan-19
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Considering the temptations under which politicians are placed, of changing their opinions, or rather their professions of opinion, from motives of self interest, the world will not give them credit for motives of honest conviction, unless when the change shall be to their manifest loss and disadvantage.

Henry Taylor (1800-1886) English dramatist, poet, bureaucrat, man of letters
The Statesman: An Ironical Treatise on the Art of Succeeding, ch. 17 (1836)
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Added on 22-Aug-17 | Last updated 22-Aug-17
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Just as every conviction begins as a whim so does every emancipator serve his apprenticeship as a crank. A fanatic is a great leader who is just entering the room.

Heywood Broun (1888-1939) American journalist, author
New York World (6 Feb 1928)
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Added on 24-May-17 | Last updated 24-May-17
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Unwilling executants do not make for good execution.

Liddell Hart - unwilling executants - wist_info quote

B. H. Liddell Hart (1895-1970) English soldier, military historian (Basil Henry Liddell Hart)
The German Generals Talk, ch. 4 (1948)
Added on 25-Jan-16 | Last updated 25-Jan-16
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It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
Added on 16-Oct-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Everyone is prejudiced in favor his own powers of discernment, and will always find an argument most convincing if it leads to the conclusion he has reached for himself; everyone must then be given something he can grasp and recognize as his own idea.

Pliny the Younger (c. 61-c. 113) Roman politician, writer [Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus]
Letters, Book 1, Letter 20 [tr. Radice (1963)]
Added on 30-Jul-15 | Last updated 30-Jul-15
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There is no better way to convince others than first to convince oneself.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
(Attributed)
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In Martin Luther, Table Talk (1566) [tr. Smith & Gallinger (1915)].
Added on 16-Jul-15 | Last updated 16-Jul-15
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Earthly minds, like mud walls, resist the strongest batteries: and though, perhaps, sometimes the force of a clear argument may make some impression, yet they nevertheless stand firm, and keep out the enemy, truth, that would captivate or disturb them. Tell a man passionately in love that he is jilted; bring a score of witnesses of the falsehood of his mistress, it is ten to one but three kind words of hers shall invalidate all their testimonies.

John Locke (1632-1704) English philosopher
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book 4, ch. 20, “Of Wrong Assent, or Error” (1690)
Added on 15-May-15 | Last updated 15-May-15
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In our reasonings concerning matter of fact, there are all imaginable degrees of assurance, from the highest certainty to the lowest species of moral evidence. A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence. […] No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavors to establish.

David Hume (1711-1776) Scottish philosopher, economist, historian, empiricist
An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Sec. 10 “Of Miracles,” Part 1 (1748)

Often given as just, "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence."
Added on 24-Apr-15 | Last updated 24-Apr-15
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In stating prudential rules for our government in society, I must not omit the important one of never entering into dispute or argument with another. I never saw an instance of one or two disputants convincing the other by argument. I have seen many, on their getting warm, becoming rude, and shooting one another. Conviction is the effect of our own dispassionate reasoning, either in solitude, or weighing within ourselves, dispassionately, what we hear from others, standing uncommitted in argument ourselves.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Thomas Jefferson Randolph (24 Nov 1808)
Added on 11-Jul-14 | Last updated 11-Jul-14
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Rich men without convictions are more dangerous in modern society than poor women without chastity.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Plays Unpleasant, Preface (1898)
Added on 7-Jul-14 | Last updated 7-Jul-14
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Opinions are made to be changed — or how is truth to be got at?

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Letter to John Murray (9 May 1818)
Added on 28-May-09 | Last updated 15-Jun-17
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A fanatic is a man who does what he thinks th’ Lord wud do if He knew th’ facts iv the case.

[A fanatic is a man who does what he thinks the Lord would do if He knew the facts of the case.]

Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936) American humorist and journalist
“Casual Observations,” Mr. Dooley’s Opinions (1901)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 28-Jan-21
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Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) Irish poet and dramatist
“The Second Coming,” ll.1-8 (1920)
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More examination of this quotation: The Best Lack All Conviction While the Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity – Quote Investigator. See also Russell and Bukowski.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 29-Sep-21
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In my opinion, any faith that cannot withstand a little shaking isn’t constructed too well to begin with. Jesus built his church on a rock, not on swampland.

No picture available
John Russell (contemp.) ("jr")
Belief-L
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Feb-19
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