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Thursday, December 24, 2009


I have expressed approval/ripped off Professor McCarthy's site several times. This is from a separate page of his quotes:

When there's a will to fail, obstacles can be found.

Personal dishonesty is not needed to produce a dishonest business plan or research proposal. Wishful thinking suffices.

You are eager to defend rationality against the creationists. Fine. Are you also willing to defend it against the environmentalists?

Cynicism is a cheap substitute for sophistication. You don't actually have to learn anything.

We can't afford to waste money on crossing the ocean, Mr. Columbus, when Spanish society has so many unsolved problems. Why, most of those Jews and Moors we have converted aren't really sincere Catholics, and a lack of money to hire more inquisitors has put their questionings so far behind that many have died of natural causes before the Holy Inquisition ever got around to them.

He who claims that affairs could not be worse is very likely to make them worse.

Malthus was right. It's hard to see how the solar system could support much more than 10^28 people or the universe more than 10^50.

Young men can readily be roused to fight. If the institutions of the United States and of California didn't prevent it, the middle-aged men of Palo Alto and Menlo Park could readily get the teen agers of these cities to shoot at each other across San Francisquito Creek over the proper location of the Willow Road extension.

One can persecute with especial complacency if one regards one's victim as a representative of some great malevolent power.

If you want to do good, work on the technology, not on getting power.

The politicians have a most touching faith in technology - that it can make up for any dumb thing the politicians decide to do.

An atheist doesn't have to be someone who thinks he has a proof that there can't be a god. He only has to be someone who believes that the evidence on the God question is at a similar level to the evidence on the werewolf question.

No-one has yet built a monument so high that a bird can't fly over and shit on it.

Self-righteousness is more dangerous than smoking.

You say you couldn't live if you thought the world had no purpose. You're saying that you can't form purposes of your own - that you need someone to tell you what to do. The average child has more gumption than that.

You say the only alternative to nuclear war is world government. There is only one possibility worse than nuclear war for the survival of modern civilization, and that is world government. Civilization might recover from the damage of a nuclear war, but judging by past static empires in Egypt and China, it might never recover from world government, there being no chance of external intervention. As it is, present governments are only prevented from becoming dominated by crazy ideas that will suppress all opposition by the existence of other governments. The only way a people can be sure that their government is substandard is that it does worse than those of other countries.

The last ten percent of any reform is the most difficult to achieve. Moreover, it is often harmful.

You have to transcend your class interests. Since you belong to the class from which bureaucrats are recruited, you naturally favor making people deal with bureaucracies.

Here's a way to tell scientific intelligence from legal intelligence. Both may start from the idea that something cannot be done and think up arguments to explain why. However, it is possible that the scientist may discover a flaw in the argument that leads him to change his mind and discover a way to do it. He will be pleased. The legal thinker will merely try to patch the flaw in the argument, because once he has chosen a side, all his intelligence is devoted to finding arguments for that side.

Foolishness is rarely a matter of lack of intelligence or even lack of information.

An extreme optimist is a man who believes that humanity will probably survive even if it doesn't take his advice.

Committing genocide on behalf of an institution generates greater loyalty to it than merely getting people fired from their jobs on its behalf.

There is only one thing more harmful to society than an elected official forgetting the promises he made in order to get elected; that's when he doesn't forget them.

Inside of many liberals is a fascist struggling to get out.

The Republican majority in 1994 was a coalition of the workers and the bosses against the others.

My hobby of not attending meetings about recycling saves more energy than your hobby of recycling.

Never abandon a theory that explains something until you have a theory that explains more.

The gentlemen of the press smell blood.

Do you wish to imprison the Native Americans in a re-invented primitive culture?

Measuring all costs in terms of energy is merely a religious exercise.

Do you wish to do good for the Mexicans (Palestinians) or they merely a stick with which to beat the Americans (Jews)?

Once a person has killed other people on behalf of an ideology, he becomes rather devoted to it.

Slogans rarely convince the unconvinced. However, they do rally the troops already on your side.

Honor among thieves is the ancestor of all honor. Likewise, democracy among tyrants is the ancestor of all democracy. Think Magna Carta. -

If a person can be said to have the wrong attitude, there is no need to pay attention to his arguments.

A declining institution often experiences survival of the unfittest.

He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense.

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