Quotations about   examination

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Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (b. 1947) American athlete [b. Lew Alcindor]
“Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge,” op-ed, Los Angeles Times (30 May 2020)
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Added on 8-Dec-20 | Last updated 8-Dec-20
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Anything becomes interesting if you look at it long enough.

[Pour qu’une chose soit intéressante, il suffit de la regarder longtemps.]

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) French writer, novelist
Letter to Alfred Le Poittevin (16 Sep 1845)
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Alt. trans.: "To make something interesting, just look at it for a long time."
Added on 20-Feb-20 | Last updated 20-Feb-20
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Now I understand one of the important reasons for going to college and getting an education is to learn that the things you’ve believed in all your life aren’t true, and that nothing is what it appears to be.

Daniel F. Keyes (1927-2014) American author
Flowers for Algernon (novel) (1966)
Added on 2-Nov-15 | Last updated 2-Nov-15
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Value of the Skeptic is the resistance to premature conclusions.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1845)
Added on 18-Jul-14 | Last updated 18-Jul-14
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Religions are kept alive by heresies, which are really sudden explosions of faith.  Dead religions do not produce them.

Gerald Brenan (1894-1987) British writer and Hispanist [Edward FitzGerald Brenan]
Thoughts in a Dry Season (1978)
Added on 21-Dec-10 | Last updated 17-Nov-21
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It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously those two modes of thought are in some tension. But if you are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you’re in deep trouble.

If you are only skeptical, then no new ideas make it through to you. You never learn anything new. You become a crotchety old person convinced that nonsense is ruling the world. (There is, of course, much data to support you.) But every now and then, maybe once in a hundred cases, a new idea turns out to be on the mark, valid and wonderful. If you are too much in the habit of being skeptical about everything, you are going to miss or resent it, and either way you will be standing in the way of understanding and progress.

On the other hand, if you are open to the point of gullibility and have not an ounce of skeptical sense in you, then you cannot distinguish useful ideas from the worthless ones. If all ideas have equal validity then you are lost, because then, it seems to me, no ideas have any validity at all.

Carl Sagan (1934-1996) American scientist and writer
“The Burden of Skepticism,” Pasadena lecture (1987)
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Reprinted in The Skeptical Inquirer (Fall 1987).
Added on 9-Mar-10 | Last updated 28-Sep-20
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I made a comparison at table some time since, which has often been quoted, and received many compliments. It was that of the mind of a bigot to the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour on it, the more it contracts.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894) American poet, essayist, scholar
The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (1858)
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Often paraphrased, "The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract." Frequently misattributed to his son, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 23-May-20
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