Quotations about   mistake

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Success don’t konsist in never making blunders, but in never making the same one the seckond time.

[Success doesn’t consist in never making blunders, but in never making the same one the second time.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
Everybody’s Friend, Or; Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor, “Molassis Kandy” (1874)
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More discussion of this quotation here.
Added on 5-May-19 | Last updated 5-May-19
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Remember, too, that you have the right to make mistakes. Exercise it. Good judgment comes from experience, and often experience comes from bad judgment.

Rita Mae Brown (b. 1944) American author, playwright
Starting from Scratch, Part 4 (1988)
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Added on 9-Apr-18 | Last updated 9-Apr-18
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HAL9000: The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.

Stanley Kubrick (1928-1999) American film director, screenwriter, producer
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [with Arthur C. Clarke]
Added on 12-Dec-17 | Last updated 12-Dec-17
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No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.

Other Authors and Sources
Turkish proverb
Added on 20-Jul-17 | Last updated 20-Jul-17
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There is no harm in being sometimes wrong — especially if one is promptly found out.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“Alfred Marshall,” The Economic Journal (Sep 1924)
Added on 1-Mar-17 | Last updated 1-Mar-17
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He who is mistaken in an action which he sincerely believes to be right may be an enemy, but retains our esteem.

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
The Mysterious Island (1874)
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Added on 19-Aug-16 | Last updated 19-Aug-16
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But, on the other hand, Uncle Abner said that the person that had took a bull by the tail once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn’t, and said a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn’t ever going to grow dim or doubtful.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Tom Sawyer Abroad, ch. 10 (1894)
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Frequently misquoted as "A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way."
Added on 10-May-16 | Last updated 10-May-16
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Science, my lad, has been built upon many errors; but they are errors which it was good to fall into, for they led to the truth.

[La science, mon garçon, est faite d’erreurs, mais d’erreurs qu’il est bon de commettre, car elles mènent peu à peu à la vérité.]

Verne - science and error - wist_info quote

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Journey to the Center of the Earth, ch. 31 (1864) [tr. Malleson (1877)]
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Alt. trans.: "Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth."
Added on 4-Mar-16 | Last updated 10-Mar-16
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If a man makes a slip, admonish him gently and show him his mistake. If you fail to convince him, blame yourself, or else blame nobody.

Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 10, #4
Added on 1-Mar-16 | Last updated 1-Mar-16
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That’s not a nuts thing, that’s a “humans hate to admit error even as they stand there, black and smoldering, with the stub of a cigarette in one hand, in the middle of a wide crater containing them and the remains of a sign that once read ‘DANGER: VOLATILE EXPLOSIVES'” thing. It’s pretty universal.

James Nicoll (b. 1961) Canadian reviewer, editor
“Proposal for a new FAQ or two,” rec.arts.sf.written, Usenet (10 Jun 2005)
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Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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Give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) Scottish essayist, novelist, poet
Virginibus Puerisque, ch. 2 “Crabbed Age and Youth” (1881)
Added on 24-Feb-16 | Last updated 24-Feb-16
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Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.

Atwood - stupidity evil - wist_info quote

Margaret Atwood (b. 1939) Canadian writer, literary critic, environmental activist
Surfacing, ch. 3 (1972)
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Added on 2-Dec-15 | Last updated 1-Jun-16
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There is something to be said for every error; but, whatever may be said for it, the most important thing to be said about it is that it is erroneous.

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) English journalist and writer
Illustrated London News (25 April 1931)
Added on 13-May-15 | Last updated 13-May-15
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Honest error is to be pitied, not ridiculed.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (16 Feb 1748)
Added on 9-Mar-15 | Last updated 9-Mar-15
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Like many men of genius, he could not understand why things obvious to him should not be so at once to other people, and found it easier to believe that they were corrupt than that they could be so stupid.

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) British playwright and critic
The Apple Cart, Preface (1928)
Added on 26-Feb-15 | Last updated 26-Feb-15
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The probability of someone watching you is proportional to the stupidity of your action.

Other Authors and Sources
A. Kindsvater, “MIST’s Law” [Man in the Street]
Added on 8-Jan-15 | Last updated 8-Jan-15
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If you leap into a Well, Providence is not bound to fetch you out.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #2975 (1732)
Added on 11-Dec-14 | Last updated 11-Dec-14
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If the first button of one’s coat is wrongly buttoned, all the rest will be crooked.

Giordano Bruno (1548-1600) Italian philosopher
(Attributed)
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Attributed in John Emerich & Edward Dalberg, The Cambridge Modern History (1904).
Added on 8-Dec-14 | Last updated 8-Dec-14
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The weak have one weapon: the errors of those who think they are strong.

Georges Bidault (1899-1983) French politician, diplomat
In The Observer (15 Jul 1962)
Added on 11-Nov-14 | Last updated 11-Nov-14
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There is no error so monstrous that it fails to find defenders among the ablest men. Imagine a congress of eminent celebrities, such as More, Bacon, Grotius, Pascal, Cromwell, Bossuet, Montesquieu, Jefferson, Napoleon, Pitt, etc. The result would be an Encyclopedia of Error.

John Dalberg, Lord Acton (1834-1902) British historian
Letter to Mary Gladstone (24 Apr 1881)
Added on 14-Jan-14 | Last updated 14-Jan-14
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Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (1842)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Nov-17
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Logic is an organized way of going wrong with confidence.

Kettering - ketterings law - wist_info quote

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) American inventor, engineer, researcher, businessman
“Kettering’s Law,” from address before American Society of Mechanical Engineers (c. 1944)

Quoted in Heinlein, The Number of the Beast (1980).

Alternately quoted:

  • "Beware logic. Logic is an organized way to go wrong -- with confidence."
  • Logic is an organized way to go wrong with confidence. We should all know by now that a logical course is not always the right one."

Sometimes referred to "Kettering's Observation."

Cited in Food Industries magazine, vol. 16 (1944), referring to the speech being "recent" (the magazine is also referred to as Food Engineering).

This site previously incorrectly attributed the quote to Iris Murdoch.  That attribution seems to have been duplicated at some other sites, but was an error.  I have also found citations to L. Walter Lundell and Karl Popper.

Another "Kettering's Law" that is referenced is: "Parts left out cost nothing, require no maintenance, and do not fail."

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 7-Dec-15
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Great blunders are often made, like large ropes, of a multitude of fibers.

[Les fortes sottises sont souvent faites, comme les grosses cordes, d’une multitude de brins.]

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Les Misérables, Vol. 2 “Cosette,” Book 5 “A Dark Chase Requires a Silent Hound,” ch. 10 “In Which it is explained how Javert lost the Game” (1862) [tr. Wilbour]

Alt. trans. [N. Denny (1980)]: "The greatest blunders, like the thickest ropes, are often compounded of a multitude of strands. Take the rope apart, separate it into the small threads that compose it, and you can break them one by one. You think, 'That is all there was!' But twist them all together, and you have something tremendous." Full text. Cited as Part 2, ch. 5 "Hunt in the Darkness."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-May-19
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