On Life, Truth & Philosophy

Quotes and Facts

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The attitude of humans to what they consider truth is of decisive influence in all areas of human existence — including in the medical realm. Wars — both in the real and figurative sense — have been fought not just for land, power and wealth, but just as much for what individual factions considered THE ONE AND ONLY truth — ranging all the way from religious interpretations and political ideologies to medical beliefs varying and evolving over the ages.

The following quotes show that thinkers of all times have recognised the critical importance of humans' continually seeking for greater truths while humbly remaining aware of their limited ability to apprehend the entire truth of all there is to know.

One's first step in wisdom is to question everything.
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742–1799), German scientist and satirist

...Dr Freud, the discoverer of psychoanalysis, has pointed out, no matter what evidence, many people only allow themselves to believe what they wish to believe, and likewise they disbelieve what they wish to disbelieve.
John W. Armstrong in his book "The Water of Life"

Only a few know,
how much one must know
to know
how little one knows.
Werner Heisenberg, German theoretical physicist, Nobel Prize in Physics (1932)

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
Marcus Aurelius (121–180), Emperor of Rome

Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who have found it.
André Gide (1869–1951), French author and Nobelist

Truth belongs to those who look for it, not to those pretending to own it.
Condorcet (1743–1794), French philosopher, mathematician, politician and representative of the Age of Enlightenment

You cannot by reason correct a man of ill opinion which by reason he never acquired.

Smart people learn from everything and everyone,
Average people from their experiences,
Stupid people already have all the answers.
Socrates (470/469–399 BC)

Nothing does more harm to a new truth than an old error.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe (1749–1832), German writer

What we know is a drop, what we don’t know is an ocean.
Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1726), English mathematician, astronomer, and physicist

Laziness and cowardice explain why such a large part of humanity, long after nature has freed them from external control, still wish to stay immature throughout their lives, and why others can so easily erect themselves as their guardians. It's so easy and convenient to be a minor.
Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), German philosopher

Don't think that your truth could be found by someone else.
André Gide, French author and winner of the Nobel Prize

Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
Giordano Bruno (1548–1600), Italian Dominican friar and cosmological theorist burnt at the stake for "heresy"

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
Mark Twain

The first sip from the cup of science will make you an atheist,
but at the bottom of the cup God is waiting for you.
Werner Heisenberg

An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody will see it.
Mahatma Gandhi

Those who see beyond the shadows and recognize the lies of their culture will never be understood, let alone believed by the masses.
Plato (427–347 BC), Greek philosopher

To go against the dominant thinking of your friends, of most of the people you see every day, is perhaps the most difficult act of heroism you can perform.
Theodore White (1915–1986), American political journalist and historian

The more men believe an idea to be true
the greater the likelihood
that the idea is mistaken.
Those who are right
usually stand alone.
S. Kierkegaard (1813–1855), Danish philosopher, theologian & author

Fools deride, philosophers investigate.
Ancient saying

Stupidity is not to know little. Stupidity is not, to want to know little. Stupidity is believing one already knows enough.
A.J. Daniel, author

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation.
Herbert Spencer (1820–1903), English philosopher, biologist, anthropologist & sociologist

... logic follows intuition in all humans, despite frequent assumptions that in actuality, we are being perfectly reasonable. Research studies show that humans lean in the direction of our gut feelings… our intuition… and once we start leaning one way or another, our busy rational minds get to work coming up with reasons this direction makes so much sense.

... people have initial intuitive leanings and viewpoints about things as being good or bad ... [and] subsequently create logical support for them ..., [but] feelings are the primary driving force... when we really want to understand someone from a different viewpoint or culture, we do well to listen with open hearts... listening truly is the best way to show respect ... and bridge gaps...
Cynthia Sue Larson in her review of Jonathan Haidt’s book "The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion"

The further a society drifts from truth the more it will hate those who speak it.
George Orwell (1903–1950), English novelist, essayist & journalist

What is truth? For the multitude, that which it continually reads and hears.
Oswald Spengler, (1880–1936), German historian and philosopher of history in "The Decline of the West", Vol. 2

My mind is made up, don't confuse me with the facts.

One must never forget that society prefers to be entertained to being instructed.
Adolph Freiherr von Knigge

The history of mankind is an immense sea of errors in which a few obscure truths may here and there be found.
C. de Beccaria

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
Bertrand Russell

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.
Mark Twain

Call a thing immoral or ugly, soul-destroying or a degradation to man, a peril to the peace of the world or to the well-being of future generations: as long as you have not shown it to be “uneconomic” you have not really questioned its right to exist, grow, and prosper.
E.F. Schumacher in his book "Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered"

There is nothing we learn so late and unlearn so soon as admitting that we were wrong.
Baroness Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), Austrian writer

Fear not those who argue but those who dodge.
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

He who truly knows has no occasion to shout.
Leonardo da Vinci, artist, engineer

You raise your voice when you should reinforce your argument.
Samuel Johnson, lexicographer

Doubting everything and believing everything are two equally convenient solutions that guard us from having to think.
Henri Poincaré, Of Science and Hypotheses

A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.
Eleanor Roosevelt

The wisest mind has something yet to learn.
George Santayana, Philosopher

No man is great enough or wise enough for any of us to surrender our destiny to. The only way in which anyone can lead us is to restore our belief in our own guidance.
Henry Miller (1891–1980). Source: The Wisdom of the Heart, 1941

In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
George Orwell

The news and truth are not the same thing.
Walter Lippmann, American journalist, 1889–1974

Paul Sethe, one of the five founding fathers of the German newspaper "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (FAZ, founded in 1949) wrote many years ago: "The freedom of the Western press is the freedom of 200 rich people to publish their opinion." Meanwhile, it is no longer 200, but four or five.
Peter Scholl-Latour (1924–2014), German professor, journalist and author, in an interview given in 2014

Search for the TRUTH is the noblest occupation of man; its PUBLICATION is a DUTY.
Anne Louise Germaine de Stael, French author

On most subjects we desire to communicate ideas and, hence, we use plain and understandable language; but if we have no ideas to communicate, or our ideas are false and, consequently, it is not desirable for them to be understood, we employ language that enables us to conceal the weak points and discourage close examination.

Whoever investigates medicine will find mystery! Mystery! Mystery! He will find no principles at the bottom of the system, except such as are at variance with all the known principles of life and are, consequently, false — hence the necessity of profound study and of specialty of language.

... The show of words without rational meaning and the greater show of technicalities thrown in as a cover for ignorance, are perfectly marvelous, but exceedingly useful. They overawe the ordinary reader, causing him to retire into reverent silence. There is nothing like a few Latin and Greek terms with which to silence annoying questions without answering them.
Dr. Herbert M. Shelton, major proponent of “Natural Hygiene
Compare “Modern Medicine is not a science”.

We live in a world where it is easier to break an atom than a preconceived idea.
Albert Einstein

Science advances, funeral by funeral.
Niels Bohr

... maybe some day in the future, people will wonder how the masses could support something as cruel as standard cancer treatments. The answer ...is both fear mongering and powerful propaganda. Human nature never changes, just evolves into different types of outrageous cruelties dressed in lofty and noble goals.
Garry Davidson 10/13

...it is highly unusual for any professional man to admit the existence of things beyond the knowledge of his profession.
Compare Faith healing, spontaneous remission of cancer & a "negative spirit" and Dr. Willard Fuller's healing ministry.

Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.

...all values and qualities in any society, including technological progress and the struggle to maintain social justice and human liberty, ultimately depend on the honest and accurate use of language. ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ And without it there is no salvation. And no physical cure or relief either.
Martin Sieff reviewing "Living Proof: A Medical Mutiny," by Michael Gearin-Tosh, who cured himself of a typically deadly form of cancer (0.005 percent 3-year survival chance)

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
William James

[Men] fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth, more than ruin, more even than death.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.
Bertrand Russell

Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.
Albert Einstein

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
Albert Einstein

The life history of the individual is first and foremost an accommodation to the patterns and standards traditionally handed down in his community.
Ruth Benedict

Still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
Simon and Garfunkel

We know a hell of a lot, but we understand very little.
Manfred Max-Neef

Far more important than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.
Eric Hoffer

I learned a long time ago that people are like radios, they can't hear a station if they aren't tuned to it!

At every crossroads to the future, there are a thousand self-appointed guardians of the past.
Betty MacQuitty

The fundamental cause of the trouble is that ... the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
Bertrand Russell (1872–1970)

And the same thought expressed differently by the same author...

One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision
Bertrand Russell (1951)

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