Best 226 of Skepticism quotes - MyQuotes
Robert Penn Warren
I suppose that Willie had his natural quota of ordinary suspicion and caginess, but those things tend to evaporate when what people tell you is what you want to hear.
It sometimes requires ignorance and arrogance to know something for sure.
The real question I am asking here is the one Marcuse asked in the sixties. How does a way of life break down? How does it break down. And Marcuse doesn’t give the pat Marxist answer, which means economically, and we ought to be glad that that pat Marxist answer is false because if a society could be driven to ruin by debt, you know, the way a lot of people said the Russians – the Soviet Union – fell because it was broke. Let’s hope that’s not true [laughs] since we are broke, let’s hope that’s false. As a generalisation, we had better hope it is false. How do they break down? Well, here there is an analogy – for me – between the social and the self under siege, in many ways. In many ways, not in a few, and some of the symptoms we see around us that our own lives are breaking down and the lives of our society is a generalised cynicism and scepticism about everything. I don’t know how to characterise this situation, I find no parallel to it in human history. The scepticism and cynicism about everything is so general, and I think it’s partly due to this thing I call banalisation, and it’s partly due to the refusal and the fear of dealing with complexity. Much easier to be a cynic than to deal with complexity. Better to say everything is bullshit than to try to look into enough things to know where you are. Better to say everything is just… silly, or pointless, than to try to look into systems of this kind of complexity and into situations of the kind of complexity and ambiguity that we have to deal with now.
Skeptical scientists often point out, as Carl Sagan has, that the wonders of real science far surpass the supposed wonders of fringe science. I think it is possible to invert that idea, and to say that the wonders of real consciousness far surpass what conventional science admits can exist.
To love at a distance and without hope; never to possess; to dream chastely of pale charms and impossible kisses extinguished on the waxen brow of death: ah, that is something like it. A delicious straying away from the world, and never the return. As only the unreal is not ignoble and empty, existence must be admitted to be abominable. Yes, imagination is the only good thing which heaven vouchsafes to the skeptic and pessimist, alarmed by the eternal abjectness of life.
G. K. Chesterton
Those might not be the very best judges of the relation of religion to happiness who, by their own account, had neither one nor the other.
You can be dead sure and still be dead wrong.
Louis C. K.
You have to do a show as honestly as you can. But you also can't afford skepticism, because it's preparing for failure, which is useless.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Superstition is rooted in a much deeper and more sensitive layer of the psyche than skepticism.
To expose all the illusions of mankind without condemning a single one.
George H. Smith
It is my firm conviction that man has nothing to gain, emotionally or otherwise, by adhering to a falsehood, regardless of how comfortable or sacred that falsehood may appear. Anyone who claims, on the one hand, that he is concerned with human welfare, and who demands, on the other hand, that man must suspend or renounce the use of his reason, is contradicting himself. There can be no knowledge of what is good for man apart from knowledge of reality and human nature, and there is no manner in which this knowledge can be acquired except through reason. To advocate irrationality is to advocate that which is destructive to human life.
Science has never been defined by infallibility or superhuman perfection. It has always been about healthy skepticism, about putting every hypothesis to the test.
Scepticism does not abolish the world, it turns it into questions.
[n regard to Jesus believing himself inspired] This belief carried no more personal imputation than the belief of Socrates that he was under the care and admonition of a guardian demon. And how many of our wisest men still believe in the reality of these inspirations while perfectly sane on all other subjects (Works, Vol. iv, p. 327).
Take it with a whole shaker of salt, a grain won't be close to enough.
Domestic animals expect food when they see the person who usually feeds them. We know that all these rather crude expectations of uniformity are liable to be misleading. The man who has fed the chicken every day throughout its life at last wrings its neck instead, showing that more refined views as to the uniformity of nature would have been useful to the chicken.
[A] planet, wholly inhabited by spiders, (which is very possible)
Phillip Andrew Bennett Low
There is nothing worse than certainty. Doubt makes us weak. That is why it’s so important. I’ve wasted too much of my life trying to be powerful.
A person who peremptorily denies the existence of anything which is beyond the horizon of his understanding because he cannot make it harmonise with his accepted opinions is as credulous as he who believes everything without any discrimination. Either of these persons is not a freethinker, but a slave to the opinions which he has accepted from others, or which he may have formed in the course of his education, and by his special experiences in his (naturally limited) intercourse with the world. If such persons meet with any extraordinary fact that is beyond their own experience, they often either regard it with awe and wonder, and are ready to accept any wild and improbable theory that may be offered to them in regard to such facts, or they sometimes reject the testimony of credible witnesses, and frequently even that of their own senses. They often do not hesitate to impute the basest motives and the most silly puerilities to honourable persons, and are credulous enough to believe that serious and wise people had taken the trouble to play upon them “practical jokes,” and they are often willing to admit the most absurd theories rather than to use their own common sense.
For a scientist must indeed be freely imaginative and yet skeptical, creative and yet a critic. There is a sense in which he must be free, but another in which his thought must be very precisely regimented; there is poetry in science, but also a lot of bookkeeping.
Some information is classified legitimately; as with military hardware, secrecy sometimes really is in the national interest. Further, military, political, and intelligence communities tend to value secrecy for its own sake. It's a way of silencing critics and evading responsibility - for incompetence or worse. It generates an elite, a band of brothers in whom the national confidence can be reliably vested, unlike the great mass of citizenry on whose behalf the information is presumably made secret in the first place. With a few exceptions, secrecy is deeply incompatible with democracy and with science.
The goal of pyrrhonist skepticism according to Sextus Empiricus is ataraxia (peace of mind) through epoche, the suspension of dogmatic judgments. Dogmatic judgments concern things non-evident, most important any alleged truth about things beyond or behind their appearance.
Skepticism is not a denial of belief, but rather a denial of rational grounds for belief.
Michel De Montaigne
Il n'est rien qui tente mes larmes que les larmes.
How can we consider ourselves to be rational and proclaim that God is ineffable—beyond our frail human abilities to comprehend him—and in the same stroke of the pen develop a list of orthodoxical beliefs of what God is and is not!?
Philo of Larisa, head of the Academy in Athens....inspired Cicero with a passion for philosophy, and in particular for the theories of Skepticism, which asserted that knowledge of the nature of things is in the nature of things unattainable. Such ideas were well judged to appeal to a student of rhetoric who had learned to argue all sides of a case. In his early twenties Cicero wrote the first two volumes of a work on 'inventin'--that is to say, the technique of finding ideas and arguments for a speech; in it he noted that the most important thing was 'that we do not recklessly and presumptuously assume something to be true.' This resolute uncertainty was to be a permanent feature of his thought.
Emile M. Cioran
Skepticism is the sadism of embittered souls.
Follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing.
William A. Dembski
Johnson is a radical skeptic, insisting, in the best Socratic tradition, that everything be put on the table for examination. By contrast, most skeptics opposed to him are selective skeptics, applying their skepticism to the things they dislike (notably religion) and refusing to apply their skepticism to the things they do like (notably Darwinism). On two occasions I’ve urged Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic Magazine, to put me on its editorial board as the resident skeptic of Darwinism. Though Shermer and I know each other and are quite friendly, he never got back to me about joining his editorial board.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Skepticism is slow suicide.
No skeptic ever invaded a country or burnt a heretic at the stake.
One can only return to the fact that even the most ordinary, good-hearted, intelligent people are literally prone to believing the most blatantly nonsensical untruths. And this comes from the realization that there are some opinions and some beliefs so incredibly inane, we may actually on occasion feel insane for not believing them; and that is probably because in giving the benefit of the doubt we self-doubt, we convince ourselves into lame passivity and blind acceptance, we tell ourselves, 'Maybe I'm just missing something here.
If I were to believe in God enough to call him a murderer, then I might also believe enough that he, as a spirit, exists beyond death; and therefore only he could do it righteously. For the physical being kills a man and hatefully sends him away, whereas God, the spiritual being, kills a man and lovingly draws him nigh.
Only accurate information has practical application, so it doesn't matter what you wanna believe. All that matters is why we should believe it too, and how accurate your perception can be shown to be.
If we could believe that he [Jesus] really countenanced the follies, the falsehoods, and the charlatanism which his biographers [Gospels] father on him, and admit the misconstructions, interpolations, and theorizations of the fathers of the early, and the fanatics of the latter ages, the conclusion would be irresistible by every sound mind that he was an impostor... We find in the writings of his biographers matter of two distinct descriptions. First, a groundwork of vulgar ignorance, of things impossible, of superstitions, fanaticisms and fabrications... That sect [Jews] had presented for the object of their worship, a being of terrific character, cruel, vindictive, capricious and unjust... Jesus had to walk on the perilous confines of reason and religion: and a step to right or left might place him within the gripe of the priests of the superstition, a blood thirsty race, as cruel and remorseless as the being whom they represented as the family God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, and the local God of Israel. They were constantly laying snares, too, to entangle him in the web of the law... That Jesus did not mean to impose himself on mankind as the son of God, physically speaking, I have been convinced by the writings of men more learned than myself in that lore. [Letter to William Short, 4 August, 1820]
Pardon me, but there’s someone on the phone who says they have a call for you.” There’s a call to tell me I have a call?” he asked with heavy skepticism.
Michel De Montaigne
D'autant que nous avons cher, estre, et estre consiste en mouvement et action.
When faced with the specter of hundreds of clinicians diagnosing thousands of multiple personality cases in the 1980s-when in the 1970s there were but a few dozen cases, and before that, many years separated individual case reports - skeptics who have not followed the development of the field closely have naturally been suspicious. But instead of following up on their suspicions, many have resorted to authoritarian rhetorical denial... I have overheard grumbling private conversation in my many travels to professional meetings which translate generically into "they are all dupes," referring to clinical researchers in the field. What, one might ask, does that make of those who have written off the research without reading it?
Skepticism requires disbelief and curiosity, not conformity to conventional wisdom. There's no science here. This is pure politics.
All science ever did was measure a teensy sliver of the universe and assume that everything else behaved the same way.
It's been very interesting over the years just how many of those psychiatrists that were openly incredulous and dismissive have become stalwart admitants to the [trauma and dissociation] unit. In fact I can remember one psychiatrist... this is going back more than a decade and a half... it says something about the ambivalence about this area... who rang me saying he doesn't believe that DID exists but nevertheless he's got a patient with it that he'd like to refer. That's called Psychiatrist Multiple Reality Disorder. - 15 years as the director of a trauma and dissociation unit: Perspectives on Trauma-informed Care
Both [P. T.] Barnum and H. L. Mencken are said to have made the depressing observation that no one ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the American public. The remark has worldwide application. But the lack is not in intelligence, which is in plentiful supply; rather, the scarce commodity is systematic training in critical thinking.
We all approached doing a sequel with great trepidation and skepticism.
Among us, on the other hand, 'the righteous man lives by faith.' Now, if you take away positive affirmation, you take away faith, for without positive affirmation nothing is believed. And there are truths about things unseen, and unless they are believed, we cannot attain to the happy life, which is nothing less than life eternal. It is a question whether we ought to argue with those who profess themselves ignorant not only about the eternity yet to come but also about their present existence, for they [the Academics] even argue that they do not know what they cannot help knowing. For no one can 'not know' that he himself is alive. If he is not alive, he cannot 'not know' about it or anything else at all, because either to know or to 'not know' implies a living subject. But, in such a case, by not positively affirming that they are alive, the skeptics ward off the appearance of error in themselves, yet they do not make errors simply by showing themselves alive; one cannot err who is not alive. That we live is therefore not only true, but it is altogether certain as well. And there are many things that are thus true and certain concerning which, if we withhold positive assent, this ought not to be regarded as a higher wisdom but actually a sort of dementia.
What good is ye world when ye canst not livest hither.
Scepticismcan never be thoroughly applied, else life would come to a standstill.
Science is the search for truth.
Sadly, because of our tribal brains, science carries a hefty cost. Treasured ideas that are loved by the community may be left behind, unable to compete with conflicting observations. Admired heroes may be found to have been mistaken. Years of hard work can amount to nothing thanks to a single observation, making a lifetime of effort seem like a waste of time. For our tribal brain, the philosopher’s toolbox is full of double-edged knives, capable of cutting away our hopes with the myths.
Prayers, maybe most of them, go unanswered. You two, you’re too young, too fortunate, to know that. You will. Prayers go unanswered. Not God’s fault. People keep getting in His way.
A great many skeptics are unfortunately put to waste, in that they vainly focus their energy on ridiculing a certain tiny denomination of Biblical fundamentalism, a denomination seated just one chair away from unbelief. They, the skeptics, cannot believe because they are the most literal of fundamentalists: of those who must interpret Scripture as simply an obsolete, absolutely dead compilation of intellectual incompetence. Nevertheless, by all means, because, after all, that is supposed to happen - Scripture states of itself that all thought and interpretation is folly without the Holy Spirit - however the ironic thing is the case in which one believes that the Bible is, in its true essence, completely outdated. And like flashes in a pan, he hints at his naivety, that he knows little about the world around him, little about those who live in it. Either that, or he knows little about what Scripture really says in relation to the world around him, little about what it really says in relation to those who live in it. It is as though he is the one dead to the world and it to him. He has not the Spirit to give life to his own spirit; he can only possibly understand Scripture as long-deceased rather than the modern world's very living narrative.