Practical Wisdom

“Science is constantly in draft form.”
— Samuel Arbesman

“The bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come.”
— Frederic Bastiat

“Most geniuses — especially those who lead others — prosper not by deconstructing intricate complexities but by exploiting unrecognized simplicities.”
— Andy Benoit

“Forecasts create the mirage that the future is knowable.”
— Peter Bernstein

“All models are wrong; some are useful.”
— George P. Box

“Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.”
— William F. Buckley, Jr.

“Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.”
— Joseph Campbell

“The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite. Life is not an illogicality; yet is a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.”
— G. K. Chesterton

“Tension is who you think you should be. Relaxation is who you are.”
— Chinese Proverb

“If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.”
— Ronald Coase

“Humility means loving the truth more than oneself.”
— Andre Comte-Sponville

“The young always have the same problem — how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have solved this by defying their parents and copying one another.”
— Quentin Crisp

“Risk means more things can happen than will happen.”
— Elroy Dimson

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”
— Albert Einstein

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
— Albert Einstein

“The difference between what the most and the least learned people know is inexpressibly trivial in relation to that which is unknown.”
— Albert Einstein

“I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right.”
— Albert Einstein

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.”
— Albert Einstein

“Definition of a Statistician: A man who believes figures don’t lie, but admits that under analysis some of them won’t stand up either.”
— Evan Esar

“The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.”
— Richard Feynman

“It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.”
— Richard Feynman

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.”
— Richard Feynman

“One mustn’t look at the abyss, because there is at the bottom an inexpressible charm which attracts us.”
— Gustave Flaubert

“Exercising the right of occasional suppression and slight modification, it is truly absurd to see how plastic a limited number of observations become, in the hands of men with preconceived ideas.”
— Francis Galton, Meteorographica, or Methods of Mapping the Weather (1863)

“Unless you have that notion that this system of capitalism and, call it, Western Democracy has worked out extremely well, the temptation to say, oh no this is not a good system, let’s take a risk and try something very, very different, uh it’s very high, and so it is scary, like if you take this book Factfulness, the group that is least aware of the improvements in the world are professors at US universities.”
— Bill Gates

“Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror.”
— Khalil Gibran

“Individuals who desire the same thing are united by something so powerful, that as long as they can share whatever they desire, they remain the best of friends. As soon as they cannot, they become the worst of enemies.”
— René Girard

“Nothing is so convincing as an anticipated discovery.”
— Stephen Jay Gould

“The world has always been betrayed, not by scoundrels, but by decent men with bad ideas.”
— Sydney Harris

“Every finding has scores of older, closely related findings trailing behind, each having been disproved, amending the scientific narrative. Science orbits the truth; it doesn’t live there.”
— Joseph Jebelli

“Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots — but you have to play the ball where it lies.”
— Bobby Jones

“The correct lesson to learn from surprises is that the world is surprising.”
— Daniel Kahneman

“Ideas become part of who we are. People get invested in their ideas, especially if they get invested publicly and identify with their ideas. So there are many forces against changing your mind. Flip-flopping is a bad word to people. It shouldn’t be. Within sciences, people who give up on an idea and change their mind get good points. It’s a rare quality of a good scientist, but it’s an esteemed one.”
— Daniel Kahneman

“When I work I have no sunk costs. I like changing my mind. Some people really don’t like it but for me changing my mind is a thrill. It’s an indication that I’m learning something. So I have no sunk costs in the sense that I can walk away from an idea that I’ve worked on for a year if I can see a better idea. It’s a good attitude for a researcher. The main track that young researchers fall into is sunk costs. They get to work on a project that doesn’t work and that is not promising but they keep at it. I think too much persistence can be bad for you in the intellectual world.”
— Daniel Kahneman

“Science is organized knowledge. Wisdom is organized life.”
— Immanuel Kant

“To do just the opposite is also a form of imitation.”
— Georg Lichtenberg

“When a person with money meets a person with experience, the person with the experience winds up with the money and the person with the money winds up with the experience.”
— Harvey MacKay

“If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”
— James Madison in Federalist No. 51, written in 1788

“Even though many things can happen, only one will.”
— Howard Marks

“An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows everything about nothing.”
— William Mayo, a founder of Mayo Clinic

“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
— H. L. Mencken

“Sometimes the very vivid, extreme evidence misleads you on the deeper reality. You’ve got to be on guard against that all your life. In fact, the whole trick in life is to get so that your own brain doesn’t mislead you.”
— Charlie Munger

“You must know the big ideas in the big disciplines, and use them routinely — all of them, not just a few. Most people are trained in one model — economics, for example — and try to solve all problems in one way. You know the old saying: to the man with a hammer, the world looks like a nail. This is a dumb way of handling problems.”
— Charlie Munger

“Another thing I think should be avoided is extremely intense ideology because it cabbages up one’s mind. … When you’re young it’s easy to drift into loyalties and when you announce that you’re a loyal member and you start shouting the orthodox ideology out, what you’re doing is pounding it in, pounding it in, and you’re gradually ruining your mind.”
— Charlie Munger

“It is totally unproductive to think the world has been unfair to you. Every tough stretch is an opportunity.”
— Charlie Munger

“Never wrestle with a pig because if you do you’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.”
— Charlie Munger

“Indeed, the average result has to be the average result. By definition, everybody can’t beat the market. As I always say, the iron rule of life is that only 20% of the people can be in the top fifth.”
— Charlie Munger

“Life is like a game of cards. The hand you are dealt is determinism, the way you play it is free will.”
— Jawaharlal Nehru

“Fanatic orthodoxy is never rooted in faith but in doubt. It is when we are not sure that we are doubly sure.”
— Reinhold Niebuhr

“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
— Anaïs Nin

“People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.”
— George Orwell

“The orthodoxy produced by intellectual fashions, specialisation, and the appeal to authorities is the death of knowledge, and that the growth of knowledge depends entirely upon disagreement.”
— Karl Popper, The Myth of the Framework

“It seems to me certain that more people are killed out of righteous stupidity than out of wickedness.”
— Karl Popper, Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge

“It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong.”
— Carveth Read

“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.”
— Joan Robinson

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”
— Bertrand Russell

“A baby is God’s opinion that life should go on.”
— Carl Sandburg

“Stepping outside the feeling you are right about everything and saying ‘I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong,’ can be the single greatest moral, intellectual, and creative leap you can make.”
— Kathryn Schulz

“Ponder a bit that, before the scientific revolution, the concept of truth came from the ‘top down’ and was based upon authority, such as that of Aristotle or Rome. The great innovation of science was that it built its concept of truth from the ‘bottom up,’ with its principles discovered rather than pronounced.”
— Robert Seawright

“Intelligent individuals learn from every thing and every one; average people, from their experiences. The stupid already have all the answers.”
— Socrates

“Discovery consists of looking at the same thing as everyone else does and thinking something different.”
— Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

“Faith moves us forward; skeptical critical thinking keeps us balanced.”
Gary Taubes

“The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.”
— Margaret Thatcher

“The most contrarian thing of all is not to oppose the crowd but to think for yourself.”
— Peter Thiel

“The Information Age is one of knowledge, which is not the same as wisdom. Knowledge is superficial; it is shallow; it has breadth but it has no depth. It is all brain and no mind.”
— Kent Thune

“What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.”
— Joseph Tussman

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
— Sun Tzu

“Prejudices are what fools use for reason.”
— Voltaire

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”
— Elie Wiesel

“No amount of sophistication is going to allay the fact that all of your knowledge is about the past and all your decisions are about the future.”
— Ian E. Wilson

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