Quotations about   credulity

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The capacity of a human mind to believe devoutly in what seems to me to be the highly improbable — from table tapping to the superiority of their own children — has never been plumbed. Faith strikes me as intellectual laziness, but I don’t argue with it — especially as I am rarely in a position to prove that it is mistaken.

Robert A. Heinlein (1909-1988) American writer
Stranger in a Strange Land, ch. 18 (1960 ed., publ. 1991)
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An elided version is found in the 1961 published edition, in ch. 13.
Added on 14-Jul-17 | Last updated 14-Jul-17
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Sickness and sorrows come and go, but a superstitious soul hath no rest.

Robert Burton (1577-1640) English scholar
The Anatomy of Melancholy, 3.4.1.3 (1621-51)
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Added on 21-Apr-17 | Last updated 2-May-17
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Men become civilized not in proportion to their willingness to believe but in proportion to their readiness to doubt.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“What I Believe,” sec. 4, Forum and Century (Sep 1930)
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Added on 17-Apr-17 | Last updated 17-Apr-17
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The weakness of the child is that it starts with a blank sheet. It neither understands nor questions the society in which it lives, and because of its credulity other people can work upon it, infecting it with the sense of inferiority and the dread of offending against mysterious, terrible laws.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“Such, Such Were The Joys…” (1952)
Added on 20-Dec-16 | Last updated 20-Dec-16
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All men profess honesty as long as they can. To believe all men honest would be folly. To believe none so is something worse.

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) US President (1825-29)
Letter to William Eustis (22 Jun 1809)
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Added on 14-Nov-16 | Last updated 14-Nov-16
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Don’t you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don’t you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?

No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.

One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out “Don’t you believe in anything?”

“Yes”, I said. “I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.”

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
The Roving Mind (1983)

See Carl Sagan.
Added on 2-Aug-16 | Last updated 2-Aug-16
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He that lends an easy and credulous ear to calumny is either a man of very ill morals or has no more sense and understanding than a child.

Menander (c. 341 - c. 290 BC) Greek comedic dramatist
Fragment

Quoted in James Elmes, Classic Quotations: A Thought-Book (1863).
Added on 9-May-16 | Last updated 9-May-16
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Let us believe neither half of the good people tell us of ourselves, nor half the evil they say of others.

Jean-Antoine Petit-Senn (1792-1870) French-Swiss poet
(Attributed)
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Added on 5-Jun-15 | Last updated 6-Jun-15
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The curse of man, and the cause of nearly all his woes, is his stupendous capacity for believing the incredible.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
In Defense of Women (1918)
Added on 22-May-15 | Last updated 22-May-15
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Everyone believes very easily whatever they fear or desire.

Jean de La Fontaine (1621-1695) French fabulist and poet
(Attributed)
Added on 8-May-15 | Last updated 8-May-15
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People readily believe what they want to believe.

Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) Roman general and statesman [Gaius Julius Caesar]
The Gallic Wars [De Bello Gallico], Book 3, sec. 18 (49 BC)

Alt. trans.: "Men believe that willingly which they wish to be true."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Feb-15
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