Quotations about   dolt

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The ratio of damn fools to villains is high.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
The Puppet Masters, ch. 26 (1951)
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Added on 17-Nov-17 | Last updated 16-Feb-18
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Whenever government assumes to deliver us from the trouble of thinking for ourselves, the only consequences it produces are those of torpor and imbecility.

William Godwin (1756-1836) English journalist, political philosopher, novelist
Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Vol. 2, bk. 6, ch. 1 (1793)
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Added on 23-Oct-17 | Last updated 23-Oct-17
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As democracy is perfected, the office [of the President] represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“Bayard vs. Lionheart,” The Baltimore Evening Sun (26 Jul 1920)

Variant: "As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and a complete narcissistic moron."

Verification and discussion of this quotation here, here, and here.
Added on 3-May-17 | Last updated 3-May-17
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The silliest woman can manage a clever man; but it needs a very clever woman to manage a fool!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
Plain Tales from the Hills, “Three and — an Extra” (1888)
Added on 17-Mar-17 | Last updated 17-Mar-17
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Stupidity is a more dangerous enemy of the good than malice. One may protest against evil; it can be exposed and, if need be, prevented by use of force. Evil always carries within itself the germ of its own subversion in that it leaves behind in human beings at least a sense of unease. Against stupidity we are defenseless. Neither protests nor the use of force accomplish anything here; reasons fall on deaf ears; facts that contradict one’s prejudgment simply need not be believed — in such moments the stupid person even becomes critical — and when facts are irrefutable they are just pushed aside as inconsequential, as incidental. In all this the stupid person, in contrast to the malicious one, is utterly self-satisfied and, being easily irritated, becomes dangerous by going on the attack. For that reason, greater caution is called for when dealing with a stupid person than with a malicious one. Never again will we try to persuade the stupid person with reasons, for it is senseless and dangerous.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
“On Stupidity” (1942)
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Added on 15-Mar-17 | Last updated 15-Mar-17
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Some of you are really smart. You know who you are.

Some of you are really thick. Unfortunately, you don’t know who you are.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (20 Jan 2013)
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Added on 21-Jul-16 | Last updated 21-Jul-16
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A fool always finds one still more foolish to admire him.

[Un sot trouve toujours un plus sot qui l’admire.]

Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux (1636-1711) French poet and critic
The Art of Poetry [L’Art Poétique], Canto 1, l. 232 (1674)

Alt. trans.: "A fool always finds a greater fool to admire him."
Added on 18-May-16 | Last updated 18-May-16
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Ignorance might be bliss for the ignorant, but for the rest of us it’s a right fucking pain in the arse.

Gervais - ignorant - wist_info quote

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (13 Oct 2013)
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Added on 18-Feb-16 | Last updated 18-Feb-16
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For as blushing will sometimes make a whore pass for a virtuous woman, so modesty may make a fool seem a man of sense.

Alexander Pope (1688-1744) English poet
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1727)
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Added on 11-Jan-16 | Last updated 11-Jan-16
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In the first place God made idiots. That was for practice. Then He made School Boards.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 61, epigraph (1897)
Added on 11-Dec-15 | Last updated 11-Dec-15
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If the man doesn’t believe as we do, we say he is a crank, and that settles it. I mean it does nowadays, because now we can’t burn him.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 53 (1897)
Added on 26-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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Many talk like Philosophers and live like Fools.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #3358 (1732)
Added on 21-May-15 | Last updated 21-May-15
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Most people won’t learn even by experience, Ira. Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough For Love [Lazarus Long] (1973)
Added on 5-May-15 | Last updated 5-May-15
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MAL: Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×06 “Our Mrs. Reynolds” (2 Oct 2002)
Added on 1-Apr-15 | Last updated 1-Apr-15
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Wooden-headedness consists of assessing a situation in terms of preconceived, fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs. It is acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be confused by the facts.

Barbara W. Tuchman (1912-1989) American historian and author
“An Inquiry into the Persistence of Unwisdom in Government,” Esquire (1980)
Added on 31-Mar-15 | Last updated 31-Mar-15
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Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. 6 (1891)
Added on 12-Mar-15 | Last updated 12-Mar-15
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The stupid you have always with you.

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American philosopher and writer
Journal (13 Feb 1860)
Added on 5-Mar-15 | Last updated 5-Mar-15
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Stupidity … is nature’s favorite resource for preserving steadiness of conduct and consistency of opinion.

Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) British businessman, essayist, journalist
Letter to London Inquirer (1851)
Added on 20-Nov-14 | Last updated 20-Nov-14
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Every absurdity has now a champion to defend it: and as he is generally much in the wrong, so he has always much to say; for error is ever talkative.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
The Traveller: Or, A Prospect of Society (1764)
Added on 7-Aug-14 | Last updated 7-Aug-14
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Nothing is worse than active ignorance.

[Es ist nichts schrecklicher als eine tätige Unwissenheit.]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) German poet, statesman, scientist
Maximen und Reflexionen

In Frederick Ungar, ed., Goethe’s World View Presented in His Reflections and Maxims (1963).
Added on 11-Jul-14 | Last updated 11-Jul-14
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Don’t argue with idiots because they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.

Greg King (b. 1964) American author and biographer
(Attributed)

Often attributed to Twain (compare to this), Bob Smith, George Carlin, and John Guerrero, all without citation. See also Proverbs 26:4.
Added on 9-Jun-14 | Last updated 16-Oct-15
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Never argue with a fool; onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Twain and also to Immanuel Kant (but never, in either case, with any citation). The phrase first makes recognizable (if anonymous) appearance in the late 19th Century; attributions to Twain begin in the late 1990s. See also Proverbs 26:4. For more discussion (and a shout-out to WIST) see here.
Added on 5-Jun-14 | Last updated 25-Mar-19
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I never make the mistake of arguing with people for whose opinions I have no respect.

Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) English historian
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Fra (May 1913) and Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book (1923).
Added on 30-May-14 | Last updated 30-May-14
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Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 26:4 (KJV)
Added on 28-May-14 | Last updated 28-May-14
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If a donkey bray at you, don’t bray at him.

Other Authors and Sources
English proverb
Added on 16-May-14 | Last updated 16-May-14
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The trouble ain’t that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain’t distributed right.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
(Attributed)
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Found in Merle Johnson, More Maxims of Mark (1927), and generally considered authentic.
Added on 16-Jan-13 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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TECMESSA: Ignorant men
Don’t know what good they hold in their hands until
They’ve flung it away.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) Greek tragic playwright
Ajax, l. 964 [tr. Moore (1959)]

Alt trans.:
  • “Men of perverse opinion do not know / The excellence of what is in their hands, / Till some one dash it from them.” [George Young (1888)]
  • "Men of ill judgement oft ignore the good / That lies within their hands, till they have lost it."
  • "For those who are base in judgement do not know the good they hold in their hands until they cast it off."
Added on 2-Jun-08 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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In a theatre it happened that a fire started off stage. The clown came out to tell the audience. They thought it was a joke and applauded. He told them again, and they became still more hilarious. This is the way, I suppose, that the world will be destroyed — amid the universal hilarity of wits and wags who think it is all a joke.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Either/Or, “Diapsalmata” (1843)

Alt. trans.: "It happened that a fire broke out backstage in a theater. The clown came out to inform the public. They thought it was a jest and applauded. He repeated his warning. They shouted even louder. So I think the world will come to an end amid the general applause from all the wits who believe that it is a joke."Alt. trans.: "A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that's just how the world will come to an end: to the general applause of wits who believe it's a joke"
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Apr-17
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I did not mean that Conservatives are generally stupid; I meant, that stupid persons are generally Conservative. I believe that to be so obvious and undeniable a fact that I hardly think any honorable Gentleman will question it.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
Debate in Parliament with John Pakington (31 May 1866)

Often paraphrased "Although it is not true that all conservatives are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are conservative."Misquoted in Courtney, Life of John Stuart Mill (1889) as "I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 11-Dec-15
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Rascality has limits; stupidity has not.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) French emperor, military leader
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Nov-17
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When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
Caesar and Cleopatra, Act 3 [Apollodorus] (1898)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Feb-15
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