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education, computers, logic


Pluralitas non ponenda est sine necessitate. - Occam

The aim of science is not to open the door to everlasting wisdom but to set a limit on everlasting error. - Bertolt Brecht

If the sun were made of hamsters, the earth would be incinerated (and very fuzzy). - Schumacher
[the math is left as an excercise for the student]

Unfortunately, the media have trouble distinguishing between real science and propaganda cross-dressed as science. - Linda Bowles, political columnist

I seem to have been only a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. - Isaac Newton

Science is not a sacred cow. Science is a horse. Don't worship it. Feed it. - Aubrey Eben

Science is the refusal to believe on the basis of hope. - Carrie P. Snow

The only thing you will ever be able to say in the so-called 'social' sciences is: "some do, some don't." - Ernest Rutherford

The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them. - Albert Einstein

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality. - Albert Einstein

There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. - George Washington (address to Congress, 8 January, 1790)

A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. - James Madison

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives. - James Madison

Science probes; it does not prove. Imagine Newton's reaction to an objector of his law of gravity who argued that he could not establish a universal law because he had not observed every falling apple, much less proved the law of gravity - there might, after all, be an apple that levitates!

Why should a group of simple, stable compounds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen struggle for billions of years to organize themselves into a professor of chemistry? - Robert Pirsig

As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty, and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life - so I became a scientist. This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls. - M. Cartmill

Hell, there are no rules here; we're trying to accomplish something. - Thomas Alva Edison

To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk. - Thomas Alva Edison

Knowing how things work is the basis for appreciation, and is thus a source of civilized delight. - William Safire

To the engineer, all matter in the universe can be placed into one of two categories: (1) things that need to be fixed, and (2) things that will need to be fixed after you've had a few minutes to play with them.

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art. - Tom Stoppard

Long, long ago, before eruptions were invented, the molten lava had to be carried down the mountainside, bucket by bucket, and poured over the sleeping villagers. This took time. - Dave Barry

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. - PARC Team, 1974

Claiming my right to follow whethersoever science should lead... it is as respectable to be modified monkey as modified dirt. - Thomas Huxley

There are men charged with the duty of examining the construction of the plants, animals, and soils which are the instruments of the great orchestra. These men are called professors. Each selects one instrument and spends his life taking it apart and describing its strings and sounding boards. This process of dismemberment is called research. The place for dismemberment is called a university. - Aldo Leopold

It really comes down to parsimony, economy of explanation. It is possible that your car engine is driven by psychokinetic energy, but if it looks like a petrol engine, smells like a petrol engine and performs exactly as well as a petrol engine, the sensible working hypothesis is that it is a petrol engine. - Richard Dawkins

The piston engine, an unsuitable device at best, let's face it, will go to join the paddle-wheel boat, the hydraulic elevator, the steam tractor. And if the gas-turbine engine doesn't speed it on its way, the free-piston engine or the hot-air engine or the fuel cell or something else will. - Ken Purdy, 1952

The value the world sets upon motives is often grossly unjust and inaccurate. Consider, for example, two of them: mere insatiable curiosity and the desire to do good. The latter is put high above the former, and yet it is the former that moves one of the most useful men the human race has yet produced: the scientific investigator. What actually urges him on is not some brummagem idea of Service, but a boundless, almost pathological thirst to penetrate the unknown, to uncover the secret, to find out what has not been found out before. His prototype is not the liberator releasing slaves, the good Samaritan lifting up the fallen, but a dog sniffing tremendously at an infinite series of rat-holes. - H.L. Mencken

There is grandeur in the view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one: and that, while this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed laws of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. - Charles Darwin, Origin of Species

"Creation science" has not entered the curriculum for a reason so simple and so basic that we often forget to mention it: because it is false, and because good teachers understand exactly why it is false. What could be more destructive of that most fragile yet most precious commodity in our entire intellectual heritage -- good teaching -- than a bill forcing honourable teachers to sully their sacred trust by granting equal treatment to a doctrine not only known to be false, but calculated to undermine any general understanding of science as an enterprise? - Stephen Jay Gould

Several thousand years ago, a small tribe of ignorant near-savages wrote various collections of myths, wild tales, lies, and gibberish. Over the centuries, these stories were embroidered, garbled, mutilated, and torn into small pieces that were then repeatedly shuffled. Finally, this material was badly translated into several languages successively. The resultant text, creationists feel, is the best guide to this complex and technical subject. - Tom Weller, From Science Made Stupid ([Biology])

Necessity, they say, is mother of invention, but fear, too, is not barren of ingenious suggestions. - Joseph Conrad

There is no harmony between religion and science. When science was a child, religion sought to strangle it in the cradle. Now that science has attained its youth, and superstition is in its dotage, the trembling, palsied wreck says to the athlete: "Let us be friends." - Robert Green Ingersoll, interview in The Truth Seeker, 1885

EO WilsonIf history and science have taught us anything, it is that passion and desire are not the same as truth. The human mind evolved to believe in the gods. It did not evolve to believe in biology. Acceptance of the supernatural conveyed a great advantage throughout prehistory, when the brain was evolving. Thus it is in sharp contrast to biology, which was developed as a product of the modern age and is not underwritten by genetic algorithms. The uncomfortable truth is that the two beliefs are not factually compatible. As a result those who hunger for both intellectual and religious truth will never acquire both in full measure. - Edward O. Wilson

There are many hypotheses in science which are wrong. That's perfectly right; they're the aperture to finding out what's right. Science is a self correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny. - Carl Sagan

It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. - Carl Sagan

Well, evolution is a theory. It is also a fact. And facts and theories are different things, not rungs in a hierarchy of increasing certainty. Facts are the world's data. Theories are structures of ideas that explain and interpret facts. Facts don't go away when scientists debate rival theories to explain them. Einstein's theory of gravitation replaced Newton's in this century, but apples didn't suspend themselves in midair, pending the outcome. And humans evolved from ape-like ancestors whether they did so by Darwin's proposed mechanism or by some other yet to be discovered. - Stephen Jay Gould, Evolution as Fact and Theory, Science and Creationism

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. - Aldous Huxley

All exact science is dominated by the idea of approximation. - Bertrand Russell

All truth passes through 3 stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Arthur Schopenhauer

All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them. - Galileo Galilei

Gravity - It's not just a good idea, it's the Law! - NASA briefing slide

Ignorance killed the cat. Curiosity was framed.

Gravity is a myth, the Earth sucks.

The gene pool could use a little chlorine.

If it isn't broken, let's take it apart and see why not.

Computers, logic, education

Epitaph on Newton:

Nature and Nature's law lay hid in night:
God said, "Let Newton be!," and all was light.
Alexander Pope

It did not last: the Devil shouting "Ho.
Let Einstein be," restored the status quo.
Sir John Collings Squire

keep it realNo one taught well will ever forget the sheer wonder of e = -1.Robert M. May, in Science 303:791. (6 Feb 2004)

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested, and the frog dies of it.  — E.B.White (1899-1985)

Anyone who considers arithmetical methods of producing random digits is of course in a state of sin. - John von Neumann (1903-1957)

What if this weren't a hypothetical question?

Teachers open the enter by yourself. - Chinese proverb

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it. - Cicero

As a man can drink water from any side of a full tank, so the skilled theologian can wrest from any scripture that which will serve his purpose. - Bhagavad Gita

We must never assume that which is incapable of proof. - G. H. Lewes, Physiology of Common Life

Where facts are few, experts are many. - Donald R. Gannon

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter Drucker

A man with a watch knows what time it is. A man with two watches is never sure. - Segal's Law

Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them. - Nathaniel Hawthorne

A nation under a well-regulated government, should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support. - Tom Paine, Rights of Man

A library is an arsenal of liberty.

If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle them, and, as it were, fondle them. Let them fall open where they will....Make a voyage of discovery, taking soundings of uncharted seas. -  Sir Winston Churchill

I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. -- Anna Quindlen
    compiler makes a bookcase

Access to knowledge is the superb, the supreme act of truly great civilizations. Of  all the institutions that purport this, free libraries stand virtually alone in accomplishing this mission. - Toni Morrison

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. - Jorge Luis Borges

I pray that no child of mine would ever descend into such a place as a library. They are indeed most dangerous places and unfortunate is she or he who is lured into such a hellhole of enjoyment, stimulus, facts, passion and fun. - Willy Russell

These are not books, lumps of lifeless paper, but minds alive on the shelves. - Gilbert Highet

Books are the windows through which the soul looks out. A house without books is like a room without windows.— H. W. Beecher.

No man has the right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books., if he has the means to buy them, It is a wrong to his family. He cheats them.— H. W. Beecher.

Children learn to read by being in the presence of books. The love of knowledge comes with reading and grows upon it. and the love of knowledge, in a young mind, is almost a warrant against the inferior excitement of passions and vices.— H. W. Beecher.

A little library, growing larger every year, is an honorable part of a young man's history.— H. W. Beecher.

It is a man's duty to have books.— H. W. Beecher.

A Library is not a luxury, but one of the necessaries of life.— H. W. Beecher.

I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. -  Groucho Marx

improving test scores - smbcThose that know, do. Those that understand, teach. - Aristotle

Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach. - HL Mencken

Time is nature's way of making sure that everything doesn't happen at once. It isn't working.

Oh, sure, you can use FACTS to prove ANYTHING that's even REMOTELY true! - Homer Simpson

All generalizations are false, including this one. A little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of explanation.

snakes on planeA straight line is the shortest distance between two Euclidian space, that is.

Common sense is what tells you that the world is flat.

Food is an important part of a balanced diet. - Fran Lebowitz

#define QUESTION ((bb) || !(bb)) - Shakespeare

Don't anthropomorphize computers; they hate it.

If the automobile had followed the same development as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year killing everyone inside. - Robert Cringely/InfoWorld

A unix signature isn't a return address, it's the ASCII equivalent of a black velvet clown painting. It's a rectangle of carets surrounding a quote from a literary giant of weeniedom like Heinlein or Dr. Who. - Chris Maeda

I think there is a world market for maybe five computers. - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

640Kb ought to be enough for anybody. - Bill Gates, 1981

Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons. - Popular Mechanics' scientific forecasts in 1949

There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. - Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

I have not lost my mind - it's backed up on disk somewhere.

Applying computer technology is simply finding the right wrench to pound in the correct screw.

Omar Khayyam, on his second day on USENET:
"The moving finger writes, and having writ, backspaces a bit, deletes the last word and replaces it with "unctuous", reformats the paragraph, adjusts the font size, and adds a gigantic sig of a sleeping pussy cat and a quote from a poem." - via <>

Give a man a fish and you have fed him for a day, but give him a case of dynamite and soon the village will be showered with mud and seaweed and unidentifiable chunks of fish.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to use the Net and he won't bother you for weeks.

Teach a man to fish, and he's still going to be shopping in the frozen foods section because it's a lot goddamn easier.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; give a man a Bible and he'll starve to death praying for a fish.

Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds. - J. Finnegan, USC

If it stinks, it's chemistry. If it moves, it's biology. If it does not work, It's computer science.

On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament!], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question. - Charles Babbage

Television is like a really, really good screen saver. - Bill Machrone

Failure is not an option. It's bundled with the software.

Never trust a man who can count to 1,023 on his fingers. - Roger Ivie

Don't think of it as a 'new' computer, think of it as 'obsolete-ready.'

The Net is a dangerous place to send naive students. You may as well send them to the nearest laundromat to learn about quantum mechanics. They might get lucky, but they're more likely to return as members of a new church. -

One of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs. - Robert Firth

* User Error! Replace User and strike any key...

A picture is worth a thousand words; unfortunately, it consumes the bandwidth of ten thousand words.

REALITY.DAT not found.
Atempting to restore Universe.......
REALITY.SYS Corrupted - Unable to recover Universe ---
Press Esc key to reboot Universe, or any other key to continue ---

Just remember: you're not a "dummy," no matter what those computer books claim. The real dummies are the people who, though technically expert, couldn't design hardware and software that's usable by normal consumers if their lives depended upon it. - Walter Mossberg

o Pentiums melt in your PC, not in your hand.
o Daddy, why doesn't this magnet pick up this floppy disk?
o C program run. C program crash. C programmer quit.
o Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.
o The secret of the universe is @*&!!NO CARRIER!
o A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.
o Did anyone see my lost carrier?
o Error, no keyboard - Press F1 to continue.
o From an IBM maintainance manual (1925): "By all means, do not use a hammer"
o Ever notice how fast Windows runs? Neither did I.
o Two is not equal to three - not even for large values of two.
o Artificial intelligence usually beats real stupidity.

Reading musses up my mind. - Henry Ford

Education ought to foster the wish for truth, not the conviction that some particular creed is the truth. - Bertrand Russell

Truth is beautiful, without doubt; but so are lies. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Truth is eternal, knowledge is changeable. It is disastrous to confuse them. - Madeleine L'Engle, An Acceptable Time

Truth is more of a stranger than fiction. - Mark Twain

Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold. - Leo Tolstoy

Truth springs from argument amongst friends. - David Hume

When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail. - Abraham Maslow

The problem with knowing a little bit about everything is remembering that it is a little bit - Kathleen Sky

Bradley's Bromide: If computers get too powerful, we can organize them into a committee that will do them in.

can't get offlineWe of the Digital Age are privileged to suffer an inconvenience unknown to Mr. Bierce: the World Wide Web, a three-syllable term with a nine-syllable "abbreviation".

It has been said that thousands of monkeys banging on keyboards would produce the complete works of Shakespeare. The internet has proven this to be untrue.

On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

The Internet was invented so that you can find someone else's review of  Scooby-Doo. - Roger Ebert

A professor is one who talks in someone else's sleep.

Widespread, free, public education has been with humanity for less than 200 years. Think about that. The majority of humans have really only had access to the tools --never mind the inclination --to question ancient myths and medieval thinking for 200 measly years. (Many still don't.) That represents .0013 of human history (based on 150,000 years of modern humans.) Without access to knowledge through books and education, humans could hardly be expected to question the beliefs of their ancestors. For centuries, you believed what the church taught or you were shunned (excommunicated? executed?). It was dangerous to challenge dogma. It still is in many places. - James Underdown, Free Inquiry 21(:2): 14 (2001)

Regardless of the number and power of the tools used to extract patterns from information, any sense of meaning depends on context, with interpretation coming along in support of one agenda or another. A world of informational transparency will necessarily be one of deliriously multiple viewpoints, shot through with misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories and a quotidian degree of madness. We may be able to see what's going on more quickly, but that doesn't mean we'll agree about it any more readily. - William Gibson, on George Orwell, in NYT, 25 June 2003

Scientific education and religious education are incompatible. The clergy have ceased to interfere with education at the advanced state, but they still control that of the children. This means that children will have to learn about Adam and Noah instead of about evolution, about David killing Goliath instead of Koch killing 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 prey to quacks of every kind and makes it difficult for them to accept the methods of thought that are successful in science. - JBS Haldane

Education is to learning as tour groups are to adventure. - Richard Saul Wurman, Information Anxiety

Studying in the solitude of the mountains is not equal to sitting at the cross-roads and listening to the talk of men. - S.G. Champion

Or sitting at a picnic, listening to women. - Anne Zeilstra

Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man. - Benjamin Franklin

Conversation is our account of ourselves ... Conversation is the vent of character as well as thoughts ... It is the laboratory of the student. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good conversation is as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after. - Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Scientific education and religious education are incompatible. The clergy have ceased to interfere with education at the advanced state, but they still control that of the children. This means that children will have to learn about Adam and Noah instead of about evolution, about David killing Goliath instead of Koch killing 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 prey to quacks of every kind and makes it difficult for them to accept the methods of thought that are successful in science. - JBS Haldane, geneticist, in The Great Thought and the Great Quotations, by George Seldes

Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction, consequently all character training and religion must be derived from faith. We need believing people. - Adolph Hitler