If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?

T.S. Eliot

Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.
Richard P. Feynman, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out
If there is something very slightly wrong in our definition of the theories, then the full mathematical rigor may convert these errors into ridiculous conclusions.
Richard P. Feynman, Feynman Lectures on Gravitation

Today, we mostly face the choice between those who write clearly about a subject they don’t understand and those who write poorly about a subject they don’t understand.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes

An expert is a person who has found out by his own painful experience all the mistakes that we can make in a very narrow field.

Niels Bohr

You exist in full if and only if your conversation (or writings) cannot be easily reconstructed with clips from other conversations.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes

I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you different.

Kurt Vonnegut, A Man without a Country

We are better at (involuntarily) doing out of the box than (voluntarily) thinking out of the box.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Bed of Procrustes

To achieve great things you need a plan and not quite enough time.

Leonard Bernstein

Part of what academics do is generate ideas and teach. The other, perhaps more important part is to play the role of “the Bu*l*hit Police”.

Mark Blyth, Austerity

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.

Attributed to Mark Twain in The Big Short, but not corroborated.

The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed.

William Gibson in The Economist, December 4, 2003

Science fiction is not predictive; it is descriptive.

Predictions are offered by prophets (free of charge), by clairvoyants (who usually charge a fee, and are therefore more honoured in their day than prophets, and by futurologists (salaried). Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants and futurologists. It is not the business of novelists. A novelist’s business is lying.

The weather bureau will tell you what next Tuesday will be like, and the Rand Corporation will tell you what the twenty-first century will be like. I don’t recommend that you turn to the writers of fiction for such information. It’s none of their business…All they can tell you is what they have seen and heard, in their time in this world, a third of it spent in sleep and dreaming, another third of it spent telling lies.

In reading a novel, any novel, we have to know perfectly well that the whole thing is nonsense, and then, while reading, believe every word of it. Finally, when we’re done with it, we may find – if it’s a good novel – that we’re a bit different from what we were before we read it, that we have changed a little, as if by having met a new face, crossed a street we never crossed before. But it’s very hard to say just what we learned, how we were changed.

The artist deals with what cannot be said in words.

The artist whose medium is fiction does this in words. The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words.

Sanity returns (in most cases) when the book is closed.

Ursula K Le Guin, Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, 1950

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