Most of these I snatched up as I saw them and I don't know who originally said them. If you do, or spot a misattribution, please email me so I can make the appropriate references. Additionally, some of the quotes here are probably misquotes or things people didn't actually say. If you spot one, please let me know. The address is at the bottom of this page.

"Lady luck, chance, randomness... Human beings, truly, have a hard time understanding it. Raindrops fall randomly.

"Now which of these two images best represents raindrops falling on a sidewalk? Is it image A?" [grouped pattern]

"Image B?" [even pattern—the class chooses this one]

"Okay. You're wrong.

"Our brains misperceive evenness as random, and wrongly assume that groupings are deliberate. Because of this people make all sorts of irrational decisions. Like, they won't work in a high rise building, or they're afraid to live in an earthquake prone area.

"And yet mathematical assessment tells us that you are far more likely to suffocate in bed than you are to die in a terrorist attack. You are ten times more likely to die from alcohol than from being in an earthquake. And it is three times more likely that you will be killed while driving to buy a lottery ticket than it is that you will win the lottery."

"That contraption—listen, Brother, they claim it thinks. I didn't believe it at first. Thought, implying rational principle, implying soul. Can the principle of a 'thinking machine'—man-made—be a rational soul? Bah! It seemed a thoroughly pagan notion at first. But do you know what? [...]

"Nothing could be that perverse without premeditation! It must think! It knows good and evil, I tell you, and it chose the latter. Stop that snickering, will you? It's not funny. The notion isn't even pagan. Man made the contraption, but he didn't make its principle. They speak of the vegetative principle as a soul, don't they? A vegetable soul? And the animal soul? Then the rational human soul, and that's all they list in the way of incarnate vivifying principles, angels being disembodied. But how do we know the list is comprehensive? Vegetative, animal, rational—and then what else? That's what else, right there. That thing. And it fell. Get it out of here..."

Walter M. Miller, A Canticle for Leibowitz

"Passion, it lies in all of us. Sleeping...waiting...and though unwanted, unbidden, it will its jaws, and howl.

"It speaks to us...guides us... Passion rules us all. And we obey. What other choice do we have?

"Passion is the source of our finest moments. The joy of love...the clarity of hatred...and the ecstasy of grief.

"It hurts sometimes more than we can bear. If we could live without passion, maybe we'd know some kind of peace. But we would be hollow, empty rooms, shuttered and dank. Without passion, we'd be truly dead."

There is a theory that states: "If anyone finds out what the universe is for it will disappear and be replaced by something more bizarrely inexplicable."

There is another theory that states: "This has already happened ...."

"To be or not to be."


"To be is to do."

I. Kant

"To do is to be."

A. Sartre

"Do be a Do Bee!"

Miss Connie, Romper Room

"Do be do be do!"

F. Sinatra


S. Doo


F. Flintstone

"If mankind minus one were of one opinion, then mankind is no more justified in silencing the one than the one—if he had the power—would be justified in silencing mankind."

John Stuart Mill

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

Winston Churchill

"I'm not stupid, just silly!"

Simon "Cool" Butcher

"Too much of a good thing can be wonderful."

Mae West

"Happiness sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open."

John Barrymore

"Music fills the heart and frees the soul."

Rebecca J. Robinson

"The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning, and does not stop until you get to school."

Steven Wright

"Unquestionably, there is progress. The average American now pays out twice as much in taxes as he formerly got in wages."

H. L. Mencken

"A stranger is only a friend you haven't met."

Simon "Cool" Butcher

To love is to admire with the heart,
To admire is the love with the mind

Theophile Gaultier

Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

2 Nephi 2:25

"I'm not aware of too many things. I know what I know, if you know what I mean."

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, "What I Am"

"What I am is what I am. Are you what you are, or what?"

Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians, "What I Am"

"The books that help you the most are those that make you think the most."

Theodore Parker

"Some books are to be tasted; others swallowed; and some few to be chewed and digested."

Francis Bacon

"You don't have to blow out my candle to make yours grow brighter."


"The sum of the intelligence on the planet is constant; yet the population is growing."

Cole's Axiom

"I'd love to go out with you, but I have to floss my cat."


"The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."

Oscar Wilde

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man."

George Bernard Shaw

"...very few phenomena can pull someone out of Deep Hack Mode, with two noted exceptions: being struck by lightning, or worse, your computer being struck by lightning."

Matt Welsh

"Now let us peel back the foreskin of misconception and apply the wire brush of enlightenment."

Geoff Miller

"...we know many things. Fourteen words to make someone fall in love with you forever, seven words to make them go without pain, how to say goodbye to a friend who is dying, how to be poor, how to be rich, how to rediscover dreams when the world has stolen them from you."

A Technomage in Babylon 5

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759.

"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried."

G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936), British author

"An eye for an eye? How Christian of you."
"Unbelievers always want other people to act like Christians."

Graff(?) and Sister Carlotta in Ender's Shadow by Orson Scott Card

"That we occasionally violate our own stated moral code does not imply that we are insincere in espousing that code."

Major Napier in The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson

Only when I dwell,
Only when I think,
Only when I wish.
Infinity of ones diversity,
Infinity of ones love,
Infinity of ones wishes.
Only with hope.


"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong."

Richard Buckminster Fuller

"Words do not convey meanings. They call them forth. We speak from our own experience, and we listen from our own experience. Because of this, we have difficulty communicating."

David O. McKay; Ensign, May 1996, Page 9 [paraphrased here]

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Evelyn Beatrice Hall, The Friends of Voltaire, 1906

When you educate a man, you educate an individual.
When you educate a woman, you educate a whole family.

Charles D. MacGuyver

"You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Adrian Rogers, 1931

"Treason doth never prosper, what's the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

Harrington, 1618

"[P]ersuasion [is] honest, and manipulation [is] dishonest. One who persuades builds trust, has integrity, and seeks to enlighten and empower others. One who manipulates destroys trust through deception and intimidation."

Jared Robinson, 2009

"The word 'natural' is completely meaningless! Everything is natural! Nature includes everything! It's not just trees and flowers! It's everything! A chemical company's toxic waste is completely natural! It's part of the nature! We're all part of nature! Everything is natural! Dog shit is natural! It's just not real good food!"

George Carlin

Be Careful What You Say

(someone may put you on a list like this 50 years from now)

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."

Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."

The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?"

Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."

Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us."

Western Union internal memo, 1876

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?"

David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible."

A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?"

H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper."

Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in Gone with the Wind

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make."

Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out."

Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."

Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this."

Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.'"

Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools."

1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training."

Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy."

Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."

Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value."

Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction."

Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon."

Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873


Math, Computers

Helpful Advice

Genuine Pearls of Wisdom

Those Unanswerable Questions

Common Misquotations

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."

Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943 (There is question as to whether he actually said this.)

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899 (There is question as to whether he actually said this.)

"640K [of memory] ought to be enough for anybody."

Bill Gates, 1981 (He has since denied saying this and there's no hard evidence that he did.)