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Thoughts on Skepticism

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posted on Nov, 22 2003 @ 10:49 PM
A pronouncement made by someone on a given subject does not mean anything in and of itself, no matter who that someone may be, and confers no guarantee of truth. Even so, there can be a great deal of power and/or beauty in the well turned phrase.

Truth is the daughter of time, not of authority.
--- Francis Bacon ---

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
--- Giordano Bruno ---

Believe nothing, O monks, merely because you have been told it...or because it is traditional, or because you yourselves have imagined it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings-that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.
--- Gautama Buddha ---

All good intellects have repeated, since Bacon's time, that there can be no real knowledge but which is based on observed facts.
--- Auguste Comte, The Positive Philosophy ---

There are all kinds of devices invented for the protection and preservation of countries: defensive barriers, forts, trenches and the like. All these are the work of human hands aided by money. But prudent minds have as a natural gift one safegaurd which is the common possesion of all, especially to the dealings of democracies with dictatorships. What is this safegaurd? Skepticism. This you must preserve. This you must retain. If you can keep this, you need fear no harm.
--- Demosthenes, Oration ---

A state of skepticism and suspense may amuse a few inquisitive minds. But the practice of superstition is so congenial to the multitude that, if they are forcibly awakened, they still regret the loss of their pleasing vision.
--- Edward Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire ---

If we go back to the beginning we shall find that ignorance and fear created the gods; that fancy, enthusiasm, or deceit adorned or disfigured them; that weakness worships them; that credulity preserves them, and that custom, respect and tyranny support them in order to make the blindness of men serve its own interests.
--- Paul Henry Thiry d'Holbach, The System of Nature ---

Strictly speaking, you only know when you know little. Doubt grows with knowledge.
--- Goethe ---

The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar... Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen.
--- Aldous Huxley, Proper Studies ---

It is wrong for a man to say that he is certain of the objective truth of any proposition unless he can produce evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what agnosticism asserts.
--- Thomas Huxley, Letter to Charles Kingsley ---

The man who does not do his own thinking is a slave, and is a traitor to himself and to his fellow-men.
--- Robert Ingersoll ---

The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of cliches. What they mistake for thought is simply a repetition of what they have heard. My guess is that well over 80% of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought. Whenever a new one appears the average man shows signs of dismay and resentment.
--- H.L. Mencken, Minority Report ---

The path of sound credence is through the thick forest of skepticism.
--- George Jean Nathan, Materia Critica ---

There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the real labor of thinking.
--- Thomas A. Edison, Placard, in all Edison works ---

To command the professors of astronomy to confute their own observations is to enjoin an impossibility, for it is to command them to not see what they do see, and not to understand what they do understand, and to find what they do not discover.
--- Galileo Galilei, The Authority of Scripture in Philosophical Controversies ---

Scientific education and religious education are incompatible. The clergy have ceased to interfere with education at the advanced state, with which I am directly concerned, but they have still got control of that of children. This means that the children have to learn about Adam and Noah instead of Evolution; about David who killed Goliath, instead of Koch who killed cholera; about Christ's ascent into heaven instead of Montgolfier's and Wright's. Worse than that, they are taught that it is a virtue to accept statements without adequate evidence, which leaves them a prey to quacks of every kind in later life, and makes it very difficult for them to accept the methods of thought which are successful in science.
--- J. B. S. Haldane ---

God give me unclouded eyes and freedom from haste. God give me quiet and relentless anger against all pretense and all pretentious work and all work left slack and unfinished. God give me a restlessness whereby I may neither sleep nor accept praise until my observed results equal my calculated results, or, in pious glee, I discover and assault my error. God give me strength not to trust to God.
--- Sinclair Lewis, Arrowsmith (scientist's creed) ---

There must be no barriers to freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors.
--- J. Robert Oppenheimer, Life, October 10, 1949 ---

Facts are the air of scientists. Without them, you never can fly.
--- Ivan Pavlov, Bequest to the Academic Youth of Soviet Russia ---

A heretic, my dear sir, is a fellow who disagrees with you regarding something neither of you knows anything about.
--- W. C. Brann, quoted by Charles Carver ---

In dark ages people are best guided by religion, as in a pitch-black night a blind man is the best guide; he knows the roads and paths better than a man who can see. When daylight comes, however, it is foolish to use blind, old men as guides.
--- Heinrich Heine, Gedanken und Einfalle ---

Any body of men who believe in hell will persecute whenever they have the power.
--- Joseph McCabe, What Gods Cost Men ---

Ahh yes, reasons for reason, and thoughts of skepticism.
I read these, and realize that they apply to all of us at ATS,
in pursuit of the truth.

And what are the truths?.....that we may believe.....
but the facts presented by others with the same quests.

We are not the first to reach for discovery of truth, and not the last.
But in between we may find something of value, individually.


posted on Nov, 22 2003 @ 11:22 PM
Thats pretty good stuff smirkley.
I would be interested to see what would turn up if one did one on: Thoughts of Truth.

This one is quite expressive:
"It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
--- Giordano Bruno --- "


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