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Quotations about authority

Albert EinsteinTo punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.

 - Albert Einstein

Carl SaganThat kind of skeptical, questioning, "don't accept what authority tells you" attitude of science is also nearly identical to the attitude of mind necessary for a functioning democracy. Science and democracy have very consonant values and approaches, and I don't think you can have one without the other.

 - Carl Sagan

Carl SaganThere is no other species on the Earth that does science. It is, so far, entirely a human invention, evolved by natural selection in the cerebral cortex for one simple reason: it works. It is not perfect. It can be misused. It is only a tool. But it is by far the best tool we have, self-correcting, ongoing, applicable to everything. It has two rules. First: there are no sacred truths; all assumptions must be critically examined; arguments from authority are worthless. Second: whatever is inconsistent with the facts must be discarded or revised. We must understand the Cosmos as it is and not confuse how it is with how we wish it to be.

 - Carl Sagan

Carl SaganEducation on the value of free speech and the other freedoms reserved by the Bill of Rights, about what happens when you don't have them, and about how to exercise and protect them, should be an essential prerequisite for being an American citizen - or indeed a citizen of any nation, the more so to the degree that such rights remain unprotected. If we can't think for ourselves, if we're unwilling to question authority, then we're just putty in the hands of those in power. But if the citizens are educated and form their own opinions, then those in power work for us.

 - Carl Sagan

BuddhaBelieve nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

 - Gautama Buddha

Mark TwainAlways acknowledge a fault frankly. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you opportunity to commit more.

 - Mark Twain

Marcus Tullius CiceroThe authority of those who teach is often an obstacle to those who want to learn.

 - Marcus Tullius Cicero

Walt DisneyLeadership means that a group, large or small, is willing to entrust authority to a person who has shown judgment, wisdom, personal appeal, and proven competence.

 - Walt Disney

Authority intoxicates,
And makes mere sots of magistrates;
The fumes of it invade the brain,
And make men giddy, proud, and vain;
By this the fool commands the wise,
The noble with the base complies,
The sot assumes the rule of wit,
And cowards make the base submit.


 - Samuel Butler (1612)

Arthur SchopenhauerTo form a judgment intuitively is the privilege of few; authority and example lead the rest of the world. They see with the eyes of others, they hear with the ears of others. Therefore it is very easy to think as all the world now think; but to think as all the world will think thirty years hence is not in the power of every one.

 - Arthur Schopenhauer

Plutarch  It is an observation no less just than common that there is no stronger test of a man's real character than power and authority, exciting, as they do, every passion, and discovering every latent vice.

 - Plutarch

William HazlittVulgar prejudices are those which arise out of accident, ignorance, or authority; natural prejudices are those which arise out of the constitution of the human mind itself.

 - William Hazlitt

Lord ActonGreat men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority.

 - Lord Acton

Leonardo da VinciAnyone who in discussion relies upon authority uses, not his understanding, but rather his memory.

 - Leonardo da Vinci

Johann Wolfgang von GoetheAuthority - the fact, namely, that something has already happened or been said or decided, is of great value; but it is only a pedant who demands authority for everything.

 - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

David HumeAn established government has an infinite advantage by that very circumstance of its being established--the bulk of mankind being governed by authority, not reason, and never attributing authority to anything that has not the recommendation of antiquity.

 - David Hume

Herman MelvilleIn time of peril, like the needle to the lodestone, obedience, irrespective of rank, generally flies to him who is best fitted to command.

 - Herman Melville