Quotations about   scientist

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But in my college days I discovered that nothing can be imagined which is too strange or incredible to have been said by some philosopher.

[Mais ayant appris dès le collège qu’on ne sauroit rien imaginer de si étrange et si peu croyable, qu’il n’ait été dit par quelqu’un des philosophes.]

René Descartes (1596-1650) French philosopher, mathematician
Discourse on Method [Discours de la méthode], Part 2 (1637) [tr. Cottingham, Stoothoff (1985)]
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See Cicero. (Source (French)). Alternate translations:

But I had become aware, even so early as during my college life, that no opinion, however absurd and incredible, can be imagined, which has not been maintained by some on of the philosophers.
[tr. Veitch (1901)]

But I had been taught, even in my College days, that there is nothing imaginable so strange or so little credible that it has not been maintained by one philosopher or another.
[tr. Haldane, Ross (1911)]

One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another.

Added on 30-Dec-21 | Last updated 30-Dec-21
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Everyone had heard about Abominations of Science but, like unicorns, they didn’t actually believe they existed. Thus everyone was rather grateful when the third Madrid Conference of Scientific Inquiry and Philosophical Horrors — Unleashed! released a codified list of things that constituted actual Abominations of Science. Over the years, this useful list has been updated and curated by our own Transylvanian Polygnostic University and has proven of great use to teachers, courts, and record books.

The only downside was that one of the conference members — a Herr Doktor Spanakopita — was so embarrassed that none of his previous efforts met the requirements that he, in a fit of pique, bred a race of unicorns, who went about stabbing people while quoting the parts of the list that covered biological abominations. Before he was stabbed to death, he was graciously acknowledged as a genuine Tamperer in Things Man Was Not Meant to Know and his oft-desecrated gravestone lists his accomplishments in full.

Phil Foglio (b. 1956) American writer, cartoonist
Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (2020) [with Kaja Foglio]
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Added on 8-Nov-21 | Last updated 8-Nov-21
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That is, natural selection built the brain to survive in the world and only incidentally to understand it at a depth greater than is needed to survive. The proper task of scientists is to diagnose and correct the misalignment.

E. O. Wilson (1929-2021) American biologist, naturalist, writer [Edward Osborne Wilson]
Consilience, ch. 4 (1998)
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Added on 29-Apr-21 | Last updated 29-Apr-21
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Physics is, hopefully, simple. Physicists are not.

Edward Teller (1908-2003) Hungarian-American theoretical physicist
Conversations on the Dark Secrets of Physics, ch. 10 (1991) [with Wendy Teller and Wilson Talley]
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Added on 9-Mar-21 | Last updated 9-Mar-21
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It is a good morning exercise for a research scientist to discard a pet hypothesis every day before breakfast. It keeps him young.

Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989) Austrian zoologist, ethologist, ornithologist
On Aggression, ch. 2 (1966)
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Added on 9-May-17 | Last updated 9-May-17
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I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist.
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “a crocodile.”

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) American poet
“The Purist”
Added on 24-Aug-16 | Last updated 24-Aug-16
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I believe that only scientists can understand the universe. It is not so much that I have confidence in scientists being right, but that I have so much in nonscientists being wrong.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) Russian-American author, polymath, biochemist
Quasar, Quasar, Burning Bright (1978)
Added on 17-May-16 | Last updated 17-May-16
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Don’t say that he’s hypocritical,
Say rather that he’s apolitical.
“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down?
That’s not my department,” says Wernher von Braun.

Tom Lehrer (b. 1928) American mathematician, satirist, songwriter
“Wernher Von Braun,” That Was the Year That Was (1965)
Added on 31-Mar-16 | Last updated 21-Oct-20
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‘Tis not Wit merely, but a Temper which must form the Well-Bred Man. In the same manner, ’tis not a Head merely, but a Heart and Resolution which must compleat the real Philosopher.

Anthony Cooper, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury (1671-1713) English politician and philosopher
Characteristicks of Men, Manners, Opinions, Times, Vol. 2 “Miscellany III” (1711)
Added on 16-Jan-15 | Last updated 16-Jan-15
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Science admits no exceptions; otherwise there would be no determinism in science, or rather, there would be no science.

Claude Bernard (1813-1878) French physiologist, scientist
Leçons de Pathologie Expérimentale (1872)
Added on 26-Dec-14 | Last updated 26-Dec-14
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There are two classes [of scientists], those who want to know and do not care whether others think they know or not, and those who do not much care about knowing but care very greatly about being reputed as knowing.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Scientists” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 5-Mar-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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