Quotations about   explanation

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Code is like humor. When you have to explain it, it’s bad.

Cory House (contemp.) American software architect, speaker, author
Twitter (12 Nov 2013)
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Added on 30-Sep-20 | Last updated 30-Sep-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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All men have a reason, but not all men can give a reason.

William Ralph Inge (1860-1954) English prelate [Dean Inge]
“Implicit Reason and Explicit Reason,” St. Peter’s Day sermon, sec. 9, Oxford University (29 Jun 1840)
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Added on 21-Jul-20 | Last updated 21-Jul-20
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I really love language; it allows us to explain the pain and the glory, the nuances and the delicacies, of our existence. Most of all, it allows us to laugh. We need language.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review, #116, Interview with George Plimpton (1990)
Added on 28-Feb-19 | Last updated 28-Feb-19
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The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.

William Arthur Ward (1921-1994) American aphorist, author, educator
Thoughts of a Christian Optimist (1968)
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Added on 11-Aug-17 | Last updated 11-Aug-17
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Don’t express your ideas too clearly. Most people think little of what they understand, and venerate what they do not.

[No allanarse sobrado en el concepto. Los más no estiman lo que entienden, lo que no perciben lo veneran. Las cosas, para que se estiman, han de costar; será celebrado cuando no fuese entendido.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], #253 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1982)]

Alt. trans.: "Do not Explain overmuch. Most men do not esteem what they understand, and venerate what they do not see. ... Many praise a thing without being able to tell why, if asked. The reason is that they venerate the unknown as a mystery, and praise it because they hear it praised." [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
Added on 31-Mar-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-20
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The sharpness of a refusal or the edge of a rebuke may be blunted by an appropriate story so as to save wounded feelings and yet serve the purpose.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
(Attributed)

In Anthony Gross, ed. Lincoln's Own Stories, ch. 6 (1912).
Added on 26-Dec-16 | Last updated 26-Dec-16
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The test of a religion or philosophy is the number of things it can explain: so true it is. But the religion of our churches explains neither art not society nor history, but itself needs explanation.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1838)
Added on 24-Oct-16 | Last updated 24-Oct-16
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People are entirely too disbelieving of coincidence. They are far too ready to dismiss it and to build arcane structures of extremely rickety substance in order to avoid it. I, on the other hand, see coincidence everywhere as an inevitable consequence of the laws of probability, according to which having no unusual coincidence is far more unusual than any coincidence could possibly be.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“The Planet that Wasn’t,” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (May 1975)
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Added on 10-May-16 | Last updated 10-May-16
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“There’s weird shit,” I said. “And we deal with the weird shit, but normally it turns out that there’s a perfectly rational explanation.” Which is often that a wizard did it.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Foxglove Summer (2014)
Added on 3-Feb-16 | Last updated 3-Feb-16
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Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem.

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
A Grief Observed (1961)
Added on 30-Sep-15 | Last updated 30-Sep-15
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What I mean is that if you really want to understand something, the best way is to try and explain it to someone else. That forces you to sort it out in your mind. And the more slow and dim-witted your pupil, the more you have to break things down into more and more simple ideas. And that’s really the essence of programming. By the time you’ve sorted out a complicated idea into little steps that even a stupid machine can deal with, you’ve learned something about it yourself.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
Added on 8-Jun-15 | Last updated 8-Jun-15
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Struggling to be brief
I become obscure.

[Brevis esse laboro,
obscurus fio.]

Horace (65-8 BC) Roman poet and satirist [Quintus Horacius Flaccus]
Ars Poetica, l. 25 (c. 18 BC)

Alt. trans.: "Aiming at brevity, I become obscure."
Added on 9-May-11 | Last updated 7-Apr-17
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But there is one feature I notice that is generally missing in Cargo Cult Science. That is the idea that we all hope you have learned in studying science in school — we never explicitly say what this is, but just hope that you catch on by all the examples of scientific investigation. It is interesting, therefore, to bring it out now and speak of it explicitly. It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty — a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid — not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked — to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist
“Cargo Cult Science,” commencement address, California Institute of Technology (1974)
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Added on 1-Nov-07 | Last updated 10-Jan-20
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When one remembers that we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook [ed. Paine (1935)]
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See also this.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.

H. H. Munro (1870-1916) Scottish writer [Hector Hugh Munro; pseud. Saki]
“Clovis on the Alleged Romance of Business,” The Square Egg (1924)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 31-May-17
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