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The reality is that all these societies, not just America and Britain but China and Russia too, are exhausted, empty of any new ideas. All of them have corruption that has burrowed deep into their institutions. Adam Curtis, Can’t Get You Out of My Head VI Are We a Pigeon? Or Are We Dancer? ***** BBC 2021
A lot of singers think all they have to do is exercise their tonsils to get ahead. They refuse to look for new ideas and new outlets, so they fall by the wayside ... I’m going to try to find out the new ideas before the others do. Ella Fitzgerald
College isn’t the place to go for ideas. Helen Keller
We’re the ones who can live for an idea, die for an idea. Daniel C Dennett, lecture Edinburgh University 2006, ‘Religion as a Natural Phenomenon’
It’s a ubiquitous feature but it doesn’t follow it has to be good for something. ibid.
Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is the mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus. Thomas Jefferson, letter to Francis Adrian van der Kemp 30th July 1816
Few new truths have ever won their way against the resistance of established ideas save by being overstated. Isaiah Berlin, Vico and Herder, 1976
We don’t let them have ideas. Why would we let them have guns? Joseph Stalin
The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit. Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
In science the credit goes to the man who convinces the world, not to the man to whom the idea first occurs. Francis Darwin, 1848-1925, son of Charles Darwin
Be less curious about people and more curious about ideas. Marie Curie, cited Henry & Dana Thomas, Living Adventures in Science, 1972
The most fascinating thing about science is the ideas, the lifting of the human spirit. Professor Lawrence Krauss
This is the key of modern science and is the beginning of the true understanding of nature. This idea. That to look at the things, to record the details, and to hope that in the information thus obtained, may lie a clue to one or another of a possible theoretical interpretation. Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law, 1955
Science is a self-correcting process. To be accepted, new ideas must survive the most rigorous standards of evidence and scrutiny. Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan, Cosmos: Heaven and Hell, PBS 1980
The suppression of uncomfortable ideas may be common in religion or politics. But it is not the path to knowledge. And there’s no place for it in the endeavour of science. ibid.
The well-meaning contention that all ideas have equal merit seems to me little different from the disastrous contention that no ideas have any merit. Carl Sagan
It seems to me what is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Carl Sagan, Skeptical Inquirer 12:1
Science is much more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking. This is central to its success. Science invites us to let the facts in, even when they don’t conform to our preconceptions. It counsels us to carry alternative hypotheses in our heads and see which ones best match the facts. It urges on us a fine balance between no-holds-barred openness to new ideas, however heretical, and the most rigorous skeptical scrutiny of everything – new ideas and established wisdom. We need wide appreciation of this kind of thinking. It works. It’s an essential tool for a democracy in an age of change. Our task is not just to train more scientists but also to deepen public understanding of science. Carl Sagan, ‘Why We Need to Understand Science’ Skeptical Inquirer 14:3
I always tell my students and post-doctoral workers – be the worst enemy of your own idea. Always challenge it. Always test it. Professor Sir Paul Nurse, president Royal Society, Horizon: Science Under Attack, BBC 2011
Great disparities of wealth in society, however, restrict freedoms every bit as much as restrictions on voting. Everyone is ‘free’ to send their children to private school, to have tea at The Ritz, to gamble on the stock exchange. These ‘freedoms’ are defended far more vigorously than the freedom to vote, yet they are in fact restrictions on freedom. For every one person who can have tea at The Ritz, there are a hundred who cannot do so because they have not got the money. If 10 per cent can send their children to private school and secure for them a straight route back into the privileged class from which they came, 90 per cent cannot do so – are banned from doing so – because they cannot afford it.
Thus the ‘freedom’ handed out by capitalist society is more often than not the opposite of freedom. Yet the idea of freedom still prevails, because the prevailing ideas of any society are the ideas of the class which runs it.
So the people who fight against these ideas – whether in strikes, demonstrations, popular protests or just in argument – are always, or almost always, swimming against the stream. They are the minority. But this minority, unlike the passive majority, can involve other people far outside their immediate orbit. And once involved in struggle against the old society, people’s ideas can change decisively. Paul Foot, The Case for Socialism ch6
Darwin’s theory of evolution – his account of why species adapt and change – has been called the best idea anyone had. But even Darwin admitted his work was incomplete ... How did evolution take place? Armand Marie Leroi, What Darwin Never Knew
Some people are aware of another sort of thinking which ... leads to those simple ideas that are obvious only after they have been thought of ... the term ‘lateral thinking’ has been coined to describe this other sort of thinking; ‘vertical thinking’ is used to denote the conventional logical process. Edward de Bono, The Use of Lateral Thinking, 1967
The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. F Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up
No grand idea was ever born in a conference, but a lot of foolish ideas have died there. Scott Fitzgerald, Note-Books E
In training a child to activity of thought, above all things we must beware of what I will call ‘inert ideas’ – that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilised, or tested, or thrown into fresh combinations. In the history of education, the most striking phenomenon is that schools of learning, which at one epoch are alive with a ferment of genius, in a succeeding generation exhibit merely pedantry and routine. The reason is, that they are overladen with inert ideas. Education with inert ideas is not only useless: it is, above all things, harmful – Corruptio optimi, pessima [the corruption of the best is the worst]. Alfred North Whitehead, The Aims of Education, Presidential Address to Mathematical Association 1916
To be changed by ideas was pure pleasure. But to learn ideas that ran counter to values and beliefs learned at home was to place oneself at risk, to enter the danger zone. Home was the place where I was forced to conform to someone else’s image of who and what I should be. School was the place where I could forget that self and, through ideas, reinvent myself. Bell Hooks