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Quotations about truth

Carl SaganThe truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true.

 - 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

Thomas PaineIt is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.

 - Thomas Paine

Leo TolstoyI know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

 - Leo Tolstoy

George OrwellPolitical language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

 - George Orwell

Mark TwainIf you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.

 - Mark Twain

Ralph Waldo EmersonThe Religion that is afraid of science dishonors God and commits suicide. It acknowledges that it is not equal to the whole of truth, that it legislates, tyrannizes over a village of God's empires but is not the immutable universal law. Every influx of atheism, of skepticism is thus made useful as a mercury pill assaulting and removing a diseased religion and making way for truth.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friedrich NietzscheYoung people love what is interesting and odd, no matter how true or false it is. More mature minds love what is interesting and odd about truth. Fully mature intellects, finally, love truth, even when it appears plain and simple, boring to the ordinary person; for they have noticed that truth tends to reveal its highest wisdom in the guise of simplicity.

 - Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich NietzscheDeception, flattering, lying, deluding, talking behind the back, putting up a false front, living in borrowed splendor, wearing a mask, hiding behind convention, playing a role for others and for oneself -- in short, a continuous fluttering around the solitary flame of vanity -- is so much the rule and the law among men that there is almost nothing which is less comprehensible than how an honest and pure drive for truth could have arisen among them.

 - Friedrich Nietzsche

Michael CrichtonThe greatest challenge facing mankind is the challenge of distinguishing reality from fantasy, truth from propaganda.

Perceiving the truth has always been a challenge to mankind, but in the information age (or as I think of it, the disinformation age) it takes on a special urgency and importance.

 - Michael Crichton

Robin HobbWhen you cut pieces out of the truth to avoid looking like a fool you end up looking like a moron instead.

 - Robin Hobb

Mark TwainA lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.

 - Mark Twain

William ShakespeareNeither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

 - William Shakespeare

Martin NiemöllerFor politicians truth and falsehood are unimportant. So I never could become a politician -- not even a church politician.

 - Martin Niemöller

AristotleThe high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think.

 - Aristotle

Pearl BuckI learned early to understand that there is no such condition in human affairs as absolute truth. There is only truth as people see it, and truth, even in fact, may be kaleidoscopic in its variety. The damage such perception did to me I have felt ever since ... I could never belong entirely to one side of any question.

 - Pearl S. Buck

Bernard BaruchApproach each new problem not with a view of finding what you hope will be there, but to get the truth, the realities that must be grappled with. You may not like what you find. In that case you are entitled to try to change it. But do not deceive yourself as to what you do find to be the facts of the situation.

 - Bernard Baruch

Friedrich NietzscheSometimes people don't want to hear the truth because they don't want their illusions destroyed.

 - Friedrich Nietzsche

Carl JungMistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.

 - Carl Jung

Isaac NewtonI do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, 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

Isaac NewtonTruth is ever to be found in the simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.

 - Isaac Newton

Albert EinsteinWhoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters

 - Albert Einstein

Arthur Conan DoyleHow often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?

 - Arthur Conan Doyle

Alfred AdlerThe truth is often a terrible weapon of aggression. It is possible to lie, and even to murder, for the truth.

 - Alfred Adler

Ayn RandPeople think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I've learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one's reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one's master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person's view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world's slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.

 - Ayn Rand

An error is the more dangerous in proportion to the degree of truth which it contains.

 - Henri-Frédéric Amiel

Wilbur WrightIf a man is in too big a hurry to give up an error he is liable to give up some truth with it, and in accepting the arguments of the other man he is sure to get some error with it.

 - Wilbur Wright

David HumeThe greater part of mankind may be divided into two classes; that of shallow thinkers who fall short of the truth; and that of abstruse thinkers who go beyond it.

 - David Hume

Blaise PascalThat queen of error, whom we call fancy and opinion, is the more deceitful because she does not always deceive. She would be the infallible rule of truth if she were the infallible rule of falsehood; but being only most frequently in error, she gives no evidence of her real quality, for she marks with the same character both that which is true and that which is false.

 - Blaise Pascal

Albert EinsteinSomething there is that can refresh and revivify older people: joy in the activities of the younger generation -- a joy, to be sure, that is clouded by dark forebodings in these unsettled times. And yet, as always, the springtime sun brings forth new life, and we may rejoice because of this new life and contribute to its unfolding; and Mozart remains as beautiful and tender as he always was and always will be. There is, after all, something eternal that lies beyond the hand of fate and of all human delusions. And such eternals lie closer to an older person than to a younger one oscillating between fear and hope. For us, there remains the privilege of experiencing beauty and truth in their purest forms.

 - Albert Einstein

Louis KronenbergerMost people today don't want honest answers insofar as honest means unpleasant or disturbing. They want a soft answer that turneth away anxiety. They want answers that are, in effect, escapes.

 - Louis Kronenberger

Albert EinsteinThe ideals which have always shone before me and filled me with the joy of living are goodness, beauty, and truth. To make a goal of comfort or happiness has never appealed to me; a system of ethics built on this basis would be sufficient only for a herd of cattle.

 - Albert Einstein

Niels BohrOne of the favourite maxims of my father was the distinction between the two sorts of truths, profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd.

 - Niels Bohr

Samuel JohnsonEvery man has a right to utter what he thinks truth, and every other man has a right to knock him down for it. Martyrdom is the test.

 - Samuel Johnson

John F. KennedyFor the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.

 - John F. Kennedy

Randy PauschHow do you get people to help you? You can't get there alone. People have to help you and I do believe in karma. I believe in paybacks. You get people to help you by telling the truth. Being earnest. I'll take an earnest person over a hip person every day, because hip is short term. Earnest is long term. Apologize when you screw up and focus on other people, not on yourself.

 - Randy Pausch

Albert EinsteinBy academic freedom I understand the right to search for truth and to publish and teach what one holds to be true. This right implies also a duty: one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.

 - Albert Einstein

Samuel Taylor ColeridgeHe who begins by loving Christianity better than truth will proceed by loving his own sect or church better than Christianity, and end by loving himself better than all.

 - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

George OrwellI know it is the fashion to say that most of recorded history is lies anyway. I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written.

 - George Orwell

George OrwellNazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as "the truth" exists. . . . The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, "It never happened" -- well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five -- well, two and two are five. This prospect frightens me much more than bombs.

 - George Orwell

Charles DarwinFalse facts are highly injurious to the progress of science, for they often long endure; but false views, if supported by some evidence, do little harm, as everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path towards error is closed and the road to truth is often at the same time opened.

 - Charles Darwin