Quotations about   opinion

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Fools are stubborn, and the stubborn are fools, and the more erroneous their judgment is, the more they hold onto it.

[Todo necio es persuadido, y todo persuadido necio; y quanto mas erroneo su dictamen, es mayor su tenacidad.]

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 183 (1647) [tr. Maurer (1992)]
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(Source (Spanish)). Alternate translation:

Every fool is fully convinced, and every one fully persuaded is a fool: the more erroneous his judgment the more firmly he holds it.
[tr. Jacobs (1892)]

Added on 13-May-22 | Last updated 12-May-22
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Some men believe their own Opinions no less firmly than others do their positive Knowledge.

Aristotle - Some men believe their own Opinions no less firmly than others do their positive Knowledge - wist.info quote

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 7, ch. 3 (7.3) (c. 325 BC) [tr. Chase (1847)]
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Alternate translations:

Some men put no less faith in their own uncertified opinions than do others in the verified truths of science.
[tr. Williams (1869), sec. 127]

For some people are as strongly convinced of their opinions as others of their knowledge.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Some people have just as strong a belief in their mere opinions as others have in what they really know.
[tr. Peters (1893), 7.3.4]

Some men are no less convinced of what they think than others of what they know.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

Some men are just as firmly convinced of what they opine as others are of what they know.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

Some people have no less conviction about that they believe than others do about what they know scientifically.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

Some men are just as sure of the truth of their opinions as others are of what they know.
[tr. Thomson (1953)]

Some men are no less convinced of their opinions about things than others of the things they know.
[tr. Apostle (1975)]

There are some people who have no less confidence than others hav ein what they know.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

Some are no less convinced of what they opine about than are other people of what they know.
[tr. Bartlett/Collins (2011)]

Added on 29-Mar-22 | Last updated 29-Mar-22
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That to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles, on the supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (1786)
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Added on 14-Mar-22 | Last updated 14-Mar-22
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When men are brought face to face with their opponents, forced to listen and learn and mend their ideas, they cease to be children and savages and begin to live like civilized men. Then only is freedom a reality, when men may voice their opinions because they must examine their opinions.

Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) American journalist and author
“The Indispensable Opposition,” The Atlantic Monthly (Aug 1939)
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Added on 9-Mar-22 | Last updated 9-Mar-22
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You will always find some Eskimos ready to instruct the Congolese on how to cope with heat waves.

Stanislaw Lec (1909-1966) Polish aphorist, poet, satirist
Unkempt Thoughts [Myśli nieuczesane] (1957) [tr. Gałązka (1962)]
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Added on 15-Feb-22 | Last updated 15-Feb-22
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Reader and hearer, Aulus, love my stuff;
A certain poet says it’s rather rough.
Well, I don’t care. For dinners or for books
The guest’s opinion matters, not the cook’s.

[Lector et auditor nostros probat, Aule, libellos,
Sed quidam exactos esse poeta negat.
Non nimium curo: nam cenae fercula nostrae
Malim convivis quam placuisse cocis.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 9, epigram 81 (9.81) [tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]
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"To Aulus". The numbering for this epigram varies between 81, 82, and 83 within in Book 9. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

The readers and the hearers like my books,
And, yet, some writers cannot them digest:
But what care I? for when I make a feast,
I would my guests should praise it, not the cooks.
[tr. Harington (16th C)]

My works the reader and the hearer praise:
They're not exact; a brother poet says:
I heed not him; for when I give a feast,
Am I to please the cook, or please the guest?
[tr. Hay (1755), ep. 82]

The reader and the hearer like my lays.
But they're unfinisht things, a poet says.
The stricture ne'er shall discompose my looke:
My chear is for my guests, and not for cooks.
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 3.14]

The reader and the hearer approve of my small books, but a certain critic objects that they are not finished to a nicety. I do not take this censure much to heart, for I would wish that the course of my dinner should afford pleasure to guests rather than to cooks.
[tr. Amos (1858) 2.24]

My readers and hearers, Aulus, approve of my compositions; but a certain critic says that they are not faultless. I am not much concerned at his censure; for I should wish the dishes on my table to please guests rather than cooks.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

Though my readers sincerely admire me,
A poet finds fault with my books.
What's the odds? When I'm giving a dinner
I'd rather please guests than the cooks.
[tr. Nixon (1911)]

Reader and hearer approve of my works, Aulus, but a certain poet says they are not polished. I don't care much, for I should prefer the courses of my dinner to please guests rather than cooks.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

"Unpolished" -- so that scribbler sneers,
While he that reads and he that hears,
     Approve my little books;
I do not care a single jot,
My fame is for my guests and not
     To please my rival cooks.
[tr. Pott & Wright (1921)]

Read or recited, my verse is much praised,
Aulus, yet one poet opines: "Ill-phrased."
I couldn't care less! When I set a table,
My guests, not the cooks, should say I'm able.
[tr. Schmidgall (2001)]

My books are praised by him who reads,
Though critics damn them in their screeds.
But who's to judge a proper meat --
Another cook, or those who eat?
[tr. Wills (2007), ep. 83]

Added on 14-Jan-22 | Last updated 11-Mar-22
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In the course of my travels I remarked that all those whose opinions are decidedly repugnant to ours are not in that account barbarians and savages, but on the contrary that many of these nations make an equally good, if not better, use of their reason than we do. I took into account also the very different character which a person brought up from infancy in France or Germany exhibits, from that which, with the same mind originally, this individual would have possessed had he lived always among the Chinese or with savages, and the circumstance that in dress itself the fashion which pleased us ten years ago, and which may again, perhaps, be received into favor before ten years have gone, appears to us at this moment extravagant and ridiculous. I was thus led to infer that the ground of our opinions is far more custom and example than any certain knowledge.

[Et depuis, en voyageant, ayant reconnu que tous ceux qui ont des sentiments fort contraires aux nôtres ne sont pas pour cela barbares ni sauvages, mais que plusieurs usent autant ou plus que nous de raison; et ayant considéré combien un même homme, avec son même esprit, étant nourri dès son enfance entre des Français ou des Allemands, devient différent de ce qu’il seroit s’il avoit toujours vécu entre des Chinois ou des cannibales, et comment, jusques aux modes de nos habits, la même chose qui nous a plu il y a dix ans, et qui nous plaira peut-être encore avant dix ans, nous semble maintenant extravagante et ridicule; en sorte que c’est bien plus la coutume et l’exemple qui nous persuade, qu’aucune connaissance certaine.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 2 (1637) [tr. Veitch (1901)]
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(Source (French)). Alternate translations:

I further recognized in the course of my travels that all those whose sentiments are very contrary to ours are yet not necessarily barbarians or savages, but may be possessed of reason in as great or even a greater degree than ourselves. I also considered how very different the self-same man, identical in mind and spirit, may have become, according as he is brought up from childhood amongst the French or Germans, or has passed his whole life amongst Chinese or cannibals. I likewise noticed how even in the fashions of one's clothing the same thing that pleased us ten years ago, and which will perhaps please us once again before ten years are passed, seems at the present time extravagant and ridiculous. I thus concluded that it is much more custom and example that persuade us than any certain knowledge.
[tr. Haldane & Ross (1911)]

Since then I have recognized through my travels that those with views quite contrary to ours are not on that account barbarians or savages, but that many of them make use of reason as much or more than we do. I thought, too, how the same man, with the same mind, if brought up from infancy among the French or Germans, develops otherwise than he would if he had always lived among the Chinese or cannibals; and how, even in our fashions of dress, the very thing that pleased us ten years ago, and will perhaps please us again ten years hence, now strikes us as extravagant and ridiculous. Thus it is custom and example that persuade us, rather than any certain knowledge.
[tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]

Added on 11-Jan-22 | Last updated 11-Jan-22
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Truth is like the flu. I fight it off, but it changes in other bodies and returns in a form to which I am not immune.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
“Vectors: 56 Aphorisms and Ten-second Essays,” Michigan Quarterly Review, #49 (Spring 1999)
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Added on 9-Nov-21 | Last updated 9-Nov-21
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No simplicity of mind, no obscurity of station, can escape the universal duty of questioning all that we believe.

William Kingdon Clifford (1845-1879) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Ethics of Belief,” Part 1 “The Duty of Inquiry,” Contemporary Review (Jan 1877)
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A man may be in as just possession of Truth as of a City, and yet be forced to surrender.

Thomas Browne (1605-1682) English physician and author
Religio Medici, Part 1, sec. 6 (1643)
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A painting in a museum probably hears more foolish remarks than anything else in the world .

[Ce qui entend le plus de bêtises dans le monde est peut-être un tableau de musée.]

Brothers Goncourt
The Brothers Goncourt - Edmond (1822-96) & Jules (1830-70), French writers [a.k.a. J.E. de Goncourt]
Idées et sensations (1866)
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Often mis-cited to just Edmond. Alternate translations:
  • "A painting in a museum hears more ridiculous opinions than anything else in the world."
  • "What hears the most stupid remarks in the world is perhaps a painting in a museum." [Source]
  • "Perhaps what hears the most nonsense in the world is a museum painting." [Source]
Added on 28-Sep-21 | Last updated 28-Sep-21
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Why would we worry what others think of us if their opinions did not change us?

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #387 (2001)
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A bore: Someone who persists in holding to his own views after we have enlightened him with ours.

Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990) American billionaire
(Attributed)

Quoted in Ted Goodman, ed., The Forbes Book of Business Quotations (1997).
Added on 28-Apr-21 | Last updated 28-Apr-21
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The distinction I am making — between studying astrology and proselytizing for it — is crucial and can be generalized; it shows us where the line between the responsible and irresponsible practice of academic freedom should always be drawn. Any idea can be brought into the classroom if the point is to inquire into its structure, history, influence and so forth. But no idea belongs in the classroom if the point of introducing it is to recruit your students for the political agenda it may be thought to imply.

Stanley Fish (b. 1938) American literary theorist, legal scholar, author
“Conspiracy Theories 101,” New York Times (23 Jul 2006)
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There is, in fact, no academic requirement to include more than one view of an academic issue, although it is usually pedagogically useful to do so. The true requirement is that no matter how many (or few) views are presented to the students, they should be offered as objects of analysis rather than as candidates for allegiance.

Stanley Fish (b. 1938) American literary theorist, legal scholar, author
“Conspiracy Theories 101,” New York Times (23 Jul 2006)
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Added on 18-Feb-21 | Last updated 18-Feb-21
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Men are educated and the State uplifted by allowing all — every one — to broach all their mistakes and advocate all their errors. The community that will not protect its most ignorant and unpopular member in the free utterance of his opinions, no matter how false or hateful, is only a gang of slaves.

Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) American abolitionist, orator
“The Scholar in a Republic,” Speech, Centennial Anniversary of the Phi Beta Kapa of Harvard College (30 Jun 1881)
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The problem with evidence is it doesn’t always support your opinion.

Stephen Colbert (b. 1964) American political satirist, writer, comedian
Interview with Ron Suskind (13 Jul 2006)
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Added on 10-Feb-21 | Last updated 10-Feb-21
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Errors and mistakes, however gross, in matters of opinion, if they are sincere, are to be pitied, but not punished nor laughed at. The blindness of the understanding is as much to be pitied as the blindness of the eye, and there is neither jest nor guilt in a man’s losing his way in either case. Charity bids us set him right if we can, by arguments and persuasions; but charity, at the same time, forbids, either to punish or ridicule his misfortune.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (21 Sep 1747)
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On religious tolerance.
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Every man’s reason is, and must be, his guide; and I may as well expect that every man should be of my size and complexion, as that he should reason just as I do. Every man seeks for truth; but God only knows who has found it. It is, therefore, as unjust to persecute as it is absurd to ridicule people for those several opinions which they cannot help entertaining upon the conviction of their reason.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (21 Sep 1747)
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Speaking of religious beliefs.
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The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed?

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) German-American philosopher, political theorist
Interview with Roger Errera (Oct 1973), The New York Review of Books (26 Oct 1978)
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An old belief is like an old shoe. We so value its comfort that we fail to notice the hole in it.

Robert Brault (b. c. 1945) American aphorist, programmer
(Attributed)
Added on 10-Nov-20 | Last updated 10-Nov-20
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It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) Roman emperor (161-180), Stoic philosopher
Meditations, Book 12, ch. 4 [tr. Hays (2002)]
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Alt. trans.:
  • "I have often wondered how each man should love himself more than any other; and yet make less account of his own opinion concerning himself, than of the opinions of others." [tr. Foulis (1742)]
  • "I have often wondered, whence it comes to pass, that although every one loves himself more than he does any other man, he should yet pay a greater regard to the opinion of other people concerning him than to his own." [tr. Graves (1792)]
  • "I have often wondered how it comes to pass that everybody should love themselves best, and yet value their neighbor's opinion about themselves more than their own." [tr. Collier (rev.)]
  • "I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others." [tr. Long (1862)]
  • "How is it that every person loves themselves more than any other person, yet still gives more value to the opinions of others than the opinion they hold of themselves?" [tr. McNeill (2019)]
Added on 20-Oct-20 | Last updated 20-Oct-20
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Few of us take the pains to study the origin of our cherished convictions; indeed, we have a natural repugnance to so doing. We like to continue to believe what we have been accustomed to accept as true, and the resentment aroused when doubt is cast upon any of our assumptions leads us to seek every manner of excuse for clinging to them. The result is that most of our so-called reasoning consists in finding arguments for going on believing as we already do.

James Harvey Robinson (1863-1936) American historian and educator
The Mind in the Making, ch. 4 “Rationalizing” (1921)
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Although in our country the Chief Magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet in his official action he should not be the President of a part only, but of the whole people of the United States. While he executes the laws with an impartial hand, shrinks from no proper responsibility, and faithfully carries out in the executive department of the Government the principles and policy of those who have chosen him, he should not be unmindful that our fellow-citizens who have differed with him in opinion are entitled to the full and free exercise of their opinions and judgments, and that the rights of all are entitled to respect and regard.

James K. Polk (1795-1849) American lawyer, politician, US President (1845-1849)
Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1845)
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Added on 14-Oct-20 | Last updated 28-Oct-20
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You both seem concern’d lest I have imbib’d some erroneous Opinions. Doubtless I have my Share, and when the natural Weakness and Imperfection of Human Understanding is considered, with the unavoidable Influences of Education, Custom, Books and Company, upon our Ways of thinking, I imagine a Man must have a good deal of Vanity who believes, and a good deal of Boldness who affirms, that all the Doctrines he holds, are true; and all he rejects, are false. And perhaps the same may be justly said of every Sect, Church and Society of men when they assume to themselves that Infallibility which they deny to the Popes and Councils. I think Opinions should be judg’d of by their Influences and Effects; and if a Man holds none that tend to make him less Virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are dangerous; which I hope is the Case with me.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Josiah and Abiah Franklin (13 Apr 1738)
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They clung to their rock-bottom opinions. They were so strong in their beliefs that there came a time when it hardly mattered what exactly those beliefs were; they all fused into a single stubbornness.

Louise Erdrich (b. 1954) American author, poet
Love Medicine, ch. 2 (1984)
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One person with a belief, is a social power equal to ninety-nine who have only interests.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
Considerations on Representative Government, ch. 1 (1861)
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Often misquoted, "One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests."
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Every fool is fully convinced, and every one fully persuaded is a fool: the more erroneous his judgment, the more firmly he holds it.

Baltasar Gracián y Morales (1601-1658) Spanish Jesuit priest, writer, philosopher
The Art of Worldly Wisdom [Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia], § 183 (1647) [tr. Jacobs (1892)]
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I have found that a story leaves a deeper impression when it is impossible to tell which side the author is on.

Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) Russian novelist and moral philosopher
Letter

Writing to a friend about Anna Karenina, and how he had rewritten a conversation (Part 4, ch. 1) between Levin and the priest four times, to hide which one he favored.
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When blithe to argument I come,
Though armed with facts, and merry,
May Providence protect me from
The fool as adversary,
Whose mind to him a kingdom is
Where reason lacks dominion,
Who calls conviction prejudice
And prejudice opinion.

Phyllis McGinley (1905-1978) American author, poet
“Moody Reflections,” The New Yorker (13 Feb 1954)
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Opinions are not to be learned by rote, like the letters of an alphabet, or the words of a dictionary. They are conclusions to be formed, and formed by each individual in the sacred and free citadel of the mind, and there enshrined beyond the arm of law to reach, or force to shake; ay! and beyond the right of impertinent curiosity to violate, or presumptuous arrogance to threaten.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Course of Popular Lectures, Lecture 6 “Formation of Opinions” (1829)
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Added on 30-Oct-19 | Last updated 30-Oct-19
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Youth finds no value in the views it disagrees with, but maturity includes discovering that even an opinion contrary to ours may contain a vein of truth we could profitably assimilate to our own views.

Sydney J. Harris (1917-1986) Anglo-American columnist, journalist, author
Pieces of Eight (1982)
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Added on 27-May-19 | Last updated 27-May-19
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Persecution for the expression of opinions seems to me perfectly logical. If you have no doubt of your premises or your power, and want a certain result with all your heart, you naturally express your wishes in law, and sweep away all opposition. To allow opposition by speech seems to indicate that you think the speech impotent, as when a man says that he has squared the circle, or that you do not care wholeheartedly for the result, or that you doubt either your power or your premises.

But when men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.

That, at any rate, is the theory of our Constitution. It is an experiment, as all life is an experiment. Every year, if not every day, we have to wager our salvation upon some prophecy based upon imperfect knowledge. While that experiment is part of our system, I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935) American jurist, Supreme Court Justice
Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616 (1919) [dissent]
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Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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I must intreat your patience — your gentle hearing. I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine; enquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the ground of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in you.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Course of Popular Lectures, Lecture 3 “Of the more Important Divisions and Essential Parts of Knowledge” (1829)
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An opinion, right or wrong, can never constitute a moral offense, nor be in itself a moral obligation. It may be mistaken; it may involve an absurdity, or a contradiction. It is a truth; or it is an error: it can never be a crime or a virtue.

Frances "Fanny" Wright (1795-1852) Scottish-American writer, lecturer, social reformer
A Few Days in Athens, Vol. 2, ch. 14 (1822)
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Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.

John Wooden (1910-2010) American basketball player and coach
They Call Me Coach, ch. 9, epigram (1972)
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Added on 31-Jul-18 | Last updated 31-Jul-18
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Not everyone is worth listening to.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 1 “Consolation For Unpopularity” (2000)
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Added on 12-Oct-17 | Last updated 12-Oct-17
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No well-informed person has declared a change of opinion to be inconstancy.

[Nemo doctus unquam mutationem consilii inconstantiam dixit esse.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
Epistulae ad Atticum, Book 16, Letter 7 (59-54 BC)

Alt. trans.: No philosopher ever yet -- and there has been a great deal written upon the subject -- defined a mere change of plan as vacillation. [Nemo doctus umquam (multa autem de hoc genere scripta sunt) mutationem consili inconstantiam dixit esse.]

Often mis-cited as Letter 8.
Added on 13-Jul-17 | Last updated 18-Jul-17
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A golden rule: We must judge men, not by their opinions, but by what those opinions make of them.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms, Notebook J, #201, p. 966 (1789-93) [tr. Hollingdale (1990)]
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Alternate translations:
  • "A golden rule: we must judge people, not by their opinions, but by what these opinions make of them." [tr. Tester (2012)]
  • It is a golden rule that one should not judge people according to their opinions, but according to what these opinions make of them.
  • "It is a golden rule not to judge men by their opinions but rather by what their opinions make of them."
  • "One must judge men not by their opinions, but by what their opinions have made of them."
  • "Don't judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him."
Added on 30-May-17 | Last updated 7-Jul-21
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The truth is always in the minority, and the minority is always stronger than the majority, because as a rule the minority is made up of those who actually have an opinion, while the strength of the majority is illusory, formed of that crowd which has no opinion — and which therefore the next moment (when it becomes clear that the minority is the stronger) adopts the latter’s opinion, which now is in the majority, i.e., becomes rubbish by having the whole retinue and numerousness on its side, while the truth is again in a new minority.

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) Danish philosopher, theologian
Journal (1850)
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People seem not to see that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Worship,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 6 (1860)
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That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next.

mill-height-of-absurdity-wisdom-wist_info-quote

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
(Attributed)
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Often cited from a quote in Adlai Stevenson, Call to Greatness (1954), but appears earlier in, e.g., National Magazine (Nov 1911). Unverified in Mills' writings.
Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Dec-16
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Change your opinions, keep to your principles;
change your leaves, keep intact your roots.

Hugo - keep intact your roots - wist_info quote

Victor Hugo (1802-1885) French writer
Victor Hugo’s Intellectual Autobiography (1907) [tr. O’Rourke]
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Our loyalty is due entirely to the United States. It is due to the President only and exactly to the degree in which he efficiently serves the United States. It is our duty to support him when he serves the United States well. It is our duty to oppose him when he serves it badly. This is true about Mr. Wilson now and it has been true about all our Presidents in the past. It is our duty at all times to tell the truth about the President and about every one else, save in the cases where to tell the truth at the moment would benefit the public enemy.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Kansas City Star (7 May 1918)

Reprinted in "Lincoln and Free Speech," The Great Adventure (1926).
Added on 22-Aug-16 | Last updated 22-Aug-16
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How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds of cheese?

Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) French statesman and soldier
(Attributed)

Quoted in Ernest Mignon, Les Mots du Général (1962).
Added on 28-Jul-16 | Last updated 28-Jul-16
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Life is not a static thing. The only people who do not change their minds are incompetents in asylums, who can’t, and those in cemeteries.

Everett Dirksen (1896-1969) American politician
(Attributed)
Added on 14-Jul-16 | Last updated 14-Jul-16
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Opinion, and the just maintenance of it, shall never be a crime in my view; nor bring injury on the individual.

Jefferson - opinion - wist_info quote

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to Samuel Adams (29 Mar 1801)
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Sometimes misattributed to George Washington.
Added on 1-Jul-16 | Last updated 1-Jul-16
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I suppose he’s entitled to his opinion, but I don’t suppose it very hard.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
“Seven Steps to Grand Master,” Nebula Awards 22 (1988) [ed. G. Zebrowski]
Added on 7-Jun-16 | Last updated 7-Jun-16
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There’s a brave fellow! There’s a man of pluck!
A man who’s not afraid to say his say,
Though a whole town’s against him.

Longfellow - brave pluck - wist_info quote

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) American poet
John Endicott, Act 2, sc. 2 (1868)
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Of all the horrid, hideous notes of woe,
Sadder than owl songs or the midnight blast,
Is that portentous phrase, “I told you so.”

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Don Juan, Canto 19, st. 50 (1823)
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It is the folly of too many to mistake the echo of a London coffee-house for the voice of the kingdom.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
The Conduct of the Allies (1711)
Added on 5-Nov-15 | Last updated 5-Nov-15
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It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who, in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Self-Reliance,” Essays: First Series (1841)
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In the manner of one who has just beheld a two-headed calf they repeated that they had “never heard such funny ideas!” They were staggered to learn that a real tangible person, living in Minnesota, and married to their own flesh-and-blood relation, could apparently believe that divorce may not always be immoral; that illegitimate children do not bear any special and guaranteed form of curse; that there are ethical authorities outside of the Hebrew Bible; that men have drunk wine yet not died in the gutter; that the capitalistic system of distribution and the Baptist wedding-ceremony were not known in the Garden of Eden; that mushrooms are as edible as corn-beef hash; that the word “dude” is no longer frequently used; that there are Ministers of the Gospel who accept evolution; that some persons of apparent intelligence and business ability do not always vote the Republican ticket straight; that it is not a universal custom to wear scratchy flannels next the skin in winter; that a violin is not inherently more immoral than a chapel organ; that some poets do not have long hair; and that Jews are not always pedlers or pants-makers.
    “Where does she get all them the’ries?” marveled Uncle Whittier Small; while Aunt Bessie inquired, “Do you suppose there’s many folks got notions like hers? My! If there are,” and her tone settled the fact that there were not, “I just don’t know what the world’s coming to!”

Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951) American novelist, playwright
Main Street, ch. 20 (1920)
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Added on 22-Sep-15 | Last updated 22-Sep-15
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“I suppose there are two views about everything,” said Mark.

“Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there’s never more than one.”

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963) English writer and scholar [Clive Staples Lewis]
That Hideous Strength (1945)
Added on 9-Sep-15 | Last updated 9-Sep-15
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The latter part of a wise man’s life is taken up in curing the follies, prejudices, and false opinions he had contracted in the former.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1706)
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Added on 3-Sep-15 | Last updated 3-Sep-15
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