There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality -- Richard Dawkins
There are answers that science isn’t able to provide about the natural world—the questions about why instead of the questions about how. I’m interested in the whys. I find many of those answers in the spiritual realm. That in no way compromises my ability to think rigorously as a scientist.
~ Francis Collins

Science in the broadest sense refers to any system of objective knowledge. In a more restricted sense, science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as to the organized body of knowledge humans have gained by such research.

CONTENT: A-B - C-D - E-F - G-H - I-J - K-L - M-N - O-P -Q-R - S-T - U-V - W-X - Y-Z - See also


Sorted alphabetically by author or source


  • The extensive literature addressed to the definition or characterization of science is filled with inconsistent points of view and demonstrates that an adequate definition is not easy to attain. Part of the difficulty arises from the fact that the meaning of science is not fixed, but is dynamic. As science has evolved, so has its meaning. It takes on a new meaning and significance with successive ages.
    • Russell L. Ackoff (1962) Scientific method: optimizing applied research decisions, p. 1
  • Science doesn't purvey absolute truth. Science is a mechanism. It's a way of trying to improve your knowledge of nature. It's a system for testing your thoughts against the universe and seeing whether they match. And this works, not just for the ordinary aspects of science, but for all of life. I should think people would want to know that what they know is truly what the universe is like, or at least as close as they can get to it.
  • Don't you believe in flying saucers, they ask me? Don't you believe in telepathy? — in ancient astronauts? — in the Bermuda triangle? — in life after death?
    No, I reply. No, no, no, no, and again no.
    One person recently, goaded into desperation by the litany of unrelieved negation, burst out "Don't you believe in anything?"
    "Yes", I said. "I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I'll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be."
    • Isaac Asimov (1997) The Roving Mind. Prometheus Books. p. 349
  • We often frame our understanding of what the space telescope will do in terms of what we expect to find, and actually it would be terribly anticlimactic if in fact we find what we expect to find. … The most important discoveries will provide answers to questions that we do not yet know how to ask and will concern objects we have not yet imagined.
  • We say that the string is 'random' if there is no other representation of the string which is shorter than itself. But we will say that it is 'non-random' if there does exist such an abbreviated representation. ...In general, the shorter the possible representation... the less random... On this view we recognize science to be the search for algorithmic compressions. ...It is simplest to think of mathematics as the catalogue of all possible patterns. ...When viewed in this way, it is inevitable that the world is described by mathematics. ...In many ways the search for a Theory of Everything is a manifestation of a faith that this compression goes all the way down to the bedrock of reality...
  • Mathematics became an experimental subject. Individuals could follow previously intractable problems by simply watching what happened when they were programmed into a personal computer. ...The PC revolution has made science more visual and more immediate creating films of imaginary experiences of mathematical worlds. ...Words are no longer enough.
    • John D. Barrow, Cosmic Imagery: Key Images in the History of Science (2008)
  • 'Twas thus by the glare of false science betray'd,
    That leads to bewilder, and dazzles to blind.
    • James Beattie, The Hermit. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority ... There is no publication in the scientific literature—in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books—that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred. . . . The assertion of Darwinian molecular evolution is merely bluster.
  • If the author is so interested in Science, why doesn't she take a course in it?
    • Peg Bracken, I Didn't Come Here to Argue (1969), Fawcett Crest edition, page 49
  • People keep saying "science doesn't know everything!" Well, science knows' it doesn't know everything; otherwise it would stop.
  • Science, like art, is not a copy of nature but a re-creation of her.
  • The symbol and the metaphor are as necessary to science as to poetry.
  • Science is a magnificent force, but it is not a teacher of morals. It can perfect machinery, but it adds no moral restraints to protect society from the misuse of the machine. It can also build gigantic intellectual ships, but it constructs no moral rudders for the control of storm tossed human vessel. It not only fails to supply the spiritual element needed but some of its unproven hypotheses rob the ship of its compass and thus endangers its cargo.
  • In war, science has proven itself an evil genius; it has made war more terrible than it ever was before. Man used to be content to slaughter his fellowmen on a single plane — the earth's surface. Science has taught him to go down into the water and shoot up from below and to go up into the clouds and shoot down from above, thus making the battlefield three times a bloody as it was before; but science does not teach brotherly love. Science has made war so hellish that civilization was about to commit suicide; and now we are told that newly discovered instruments of destruction will make the cruelties of the late war seem trivial in comparison with the cruelties of wars that may come in the future.
  • Science has been advancing without interruption during the last three of four hundred years; every new discovery has led to new problems and new methods of solution, and opened up new fields for exploration. Hitherto men of science have not been compelled to halt, they have always found ways to advance further. But what assurance have we that they will not come up against impassable barriers? ...Take biology or astronomy. How can we be sure that some day progress may not come to a dead pause, not because knowledge is exhausted, but because our resources for investigation are exhausted... It is an assumption, which cannot be verified, that we shall not reach a point in our knowledge of nature beyond which the human intellect is unqualified to pass.


  • O star-eyed Science, hast thou wander'd there,
    To waft us home the message of despair?
    • Thomas Campbell, Pleasures of Hope, Part II, line 325. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Respectable Professors of the Dismal Science.
    • Thomas Carlyle, Latter Day Pamphlets, No. 1. (1850). Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • What we might call, by way of Eminence, the Dismal Science.
    • Thomas Carlyle, The Nigger Question. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • But when science, passing beyond its own limits, assumes to take the place of theology, and sets up its own conception of the order of nature as a sufficient account of its cause, it is invading a province of thought to which it has no claim, and not unreasonably provokes the hostility of its best friends.
    • M. B. Carpenter, as quoted by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 530
  • The most difficult thing to reconcile is science and religion … And so we created a 
dilemma for her character that plays right into Mulder’s hands. So that cross she wears,
 which was there from the pilot episode, is all-important for a character who is torn 
between her rational character and her spiritual side. That is, I think, a very smart
 thing to do. The show is basically a religious show. It’s about the search for God. You 
know, "The truth is out there." That’s what it’s about.
  • Through all God's works there runs a beautiful harmony. The remotest truth in His universe is linked to that which lies nearest the throne.
    • Edwin Hubbell Chapin, Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 530
  • I'm not anti-science, I'm anti the way science is sometimes used.
  • My own case for Christianity is rational; but it is not simple. It is an accumulation of varied facts, like the attitude of the ordinary agnostic. But the ordinary agnostic has got his facts all wrong. He is a non-believer for a multitude of reasons; but they are untrue reasons. He doubts because the Middle Ages were barbaric, but they weren't; because Darwinism is demonstrated, but it isn't; because miracles do not happen, but they do; because monks were lazy, but they were very industrious; because nuns are unhappy, but they are particularly cheerful; because Christian art was sad and pale, but it was picked out in peculiarly bright colours and gay with gold; because modern science is moving away from the supernatural, but it isn't, it is moving towards the supernatural with the rapidity of a railway train.
  • Philosophia vero omnium mater artium.
    • Philosophy is true mother of the arts. (Science).
    • Cicero, Tusculum Disp, Book I. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • As our own species is in the process of proving, one cannot have superior science and inferior morals. The combination is unstable and self-destroying.
  • Politics and Religion are obsolete. The time has come for Science and Spirituality.
    • Often quoted by Arthur C. Clarke as one of his favorite remarks of Jawaharlal Nehru, though some of his earliest citations of it, in Voices from the Sky: Previews of the Coming Space Age (1967), p. 154 indicate that Nehru may himself been either quoting or paraphrasing a statement of Vinoba Bhave.
  • I would not expect religion to be the right tool for sequencing the human genome and by the same token would not expect science to be the means to approaching the supernatural. But on the really interesting larger questions, such as ‘Why are we here?’ or ‘Why do human beings long for spirituality?,’ I find science unsatisfactory. Many superstitions have come into existence and then faded away. Faith has not, which suggests it has reality.
  • There are answers that science isn’t able to provide about the natural world—the questions about why instead of the questions about how. I’m interested in the whys. I find many of those answers in the spiritual realm. That in no way compromises my ability to think rigorously as a scientist.
  • The French Revolution qualitatively transformed all aspects of human culture, including science, for better or worse. The institutional ideological changes wrought in French science by the Revolution and its aftermath shaped the subsequent course of modern science everywhere. The essential underlying factor, as the Hessen thesis maintains, was the victory of capitalism, which the Revolution consolidated. The new social order spread to Europe and the rest of the world, everywhere subordinating the further development of science to capitalist interests.
    • Clifford D. Conner, A People's History of Science (2005)
  • Modern science will continue to be blindly destructive as long as its operations are determined by the anarchism of market economic forces. The problem to be solved is whether science, technology, and industry can be brought under genuinely democratic control in the context of a global planned economy, so that all of us can collectively put our hard-won scientific knowledge to mutually beneficial use. I am confident it can be accomplished, but will it? If so, there is reason for optimism. If not... well, to paraphrase Keynes, "in the not-so-long run we're all dead."
    • Clifford D. Conner, A People's History of Science (2005)
  • To spread healthy ideas among even the lowest classes of people, to remove men from the influence of prejudice and passion, to make reason the arbiter and supreme guide of public opinion; that is the essential goal of the sciences; that is how science will contribute to the advancement of civilization, and that is what deserves protection of governments who want to insure the stability of their power.
  • Alas! A scientific man ought to have no wishes, no affections — a mere heart of stone.
    • Charles Darwin, in a letter to T.H. Huxley, 9 July 1857, More Letters of Charles Darwin, Francis Darwin and A.C. Seward, editors (1903) volume I, chapter II: "Evolution, 1844-1858", page 98
  • It is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.
  • Fortunately science, like that nature to which it belongs, is neither limited by time nor by space. It belongs to the world, and is of no country and of no age. The more we know, the more we feel our ignorance; the more we feel how much remains unknown; and in philosophy, the sentiment of the Macedonian hero can never apply, — there are always new worlds to conquer.
    • Sir Humphry Davy, discourse delivered at the Royal Society (30 November 1825)
  • There are very few persons who pursue science with true dignity.
    • Sir Humphry Davy, Consolations in Travel, Dialogue V. The Chemical Philosopher. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92


  • It is not enough that you should understand about applied science in order that your work may increase man's blessings. Concern for the man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest of all technical endeavors; concern for the great unsolved problems of the organization of labor and the distribution of goods in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations.
    • Albert Einstein, speech at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California (February 16, 1931), as reported in The New York Times (February 17, 1931), p. 6
  • There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear energy] will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.
    • Albert Einstein, as quoted in "Atom Energy Hope is Spiked By Einstein / Efforts at Loosing Vast Force is Called Fruitless," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (29 December 1934); it was only after the breakthroughs by Enrico Fermi and others in producing nuclear chain reactions that the use of nuclear power became plausible.
  • All of science is nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking.
    • Albert Einstein, "Physics and Reality" (1936); later published in Out of My Later Years (1950).
  • The aim of science is, on the one hand, a comprehension, as complete as possible, of the connection between the sense experiences in their totality, and, on the other hand, the accomplishment of this aim by the use of a minimum of primary concepts and relations. (Seeking, as far as possible, logical unity in the world picture, i.e. paucity in logical elements.)
  • All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree. All these aspirations are directed toward ennobling man's life, lifting it from the sphere of mere physical existence and leading the individual towards freedom. It is no mere chance that our older universities developed from clerical schools. Both churches and universities — insofar as they live up to their true function — serve the ennoblement of the individual. They seek to fulfill this great task by spreading moral and cultural understanding, renouncing the use of brute force.
    • Albert Einstein, "Moral Decay" (1937); later published in Out of My Later Years (1950)
  • Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
    • Albert Einstein, paper prepared for initial meeting of the Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion in Their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life, New York City (September 9–11, 1940); in Einstein, Out of My Later Years (1950, rev. and reprinted 1970), chapter 8, part 1, p. 26
  • From society's standpoint, modern science and technology appears Janus-faced : It has given us wealth in one sense, and poverty in another; it has harnessed nature to man's basic needs in ways and to extents undreamed - of only a few decades ago, but it has fostered a continuingly lowered "quality of life".
  • The impression that science is over has occurred many times in various branches of human knowledge, often because of an explosion of discoveries made by a genius or a small group of men in such a short time that average minds could hardly follow and had the unconscious desire to take breath, to get used to the unexpected things that came to be revealed. Dazzled by these new truths, they could not see beyond. Sometimes an entire century did not suffice to produce this accommodation.
    • Charles Fabry, La vie et l'oeuvre scientifique de Augustin Fresnel (1927), p. 13
  • Always be prepared to explain the hows and whys.
  • These days, scientists are largely treated like beggars, their tin cups externally extended to the government funding agencies.
    • J. Doyne Farmer, The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution (1995) ed. John Brockman
  • Science is an essentially anarchic enterprise: theoretical anarchism is more humanitarian and more likely to encourage progress than its law-and-order alternatives.
  • The separation of state and church must be complemented by the separation of state and science, that most recent, most aggressive, and most dogmatic religious institution.
    • Paul Feyerabend, Against Method (1975) p. 295
  • If we want to understand nature, if we want to master our physical surroundings, then we must use all ideas, all methods, and not just a small selection of them. The assertion, however, that there is no knowledge outside science - extra scientiam nulla salus - is nothing but another and most convenient fairy-tale.
  • Our freedom to doubt was born out of a struggle against authority in the early days of science. It was a very deep and strong struggle: permit us to question — to doubt — to not be sure. I think that it is important that we do not forget this struggle and thus perhaps lose what we have gained.
    • Richard Feynman, in "The Value of Science," address to the National Academy of Sciences (Autumn 1955)
  • Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.
    • Richard Feynman, in "What is and What Should be the Role of Scientific Culture in Modern Society", lecture at the Galileo Symposium in Italy, (1964)
  • And most people say of astrology, "Oh, it's harmless fun, isn't it?" And I should say probably for about 80% of the cases it probably is harmless fun, but there's a strong way in which it isn't harmless: one, because it's so anti-science; you know, you'll hear things like "Science doesn't know everything." Well, of course science doesn't know everything. But because science doesn't know everything that doesn't mean science knows nothing. Science knows enough for us to be watched by a few million people now on television, for these lights to be working, for quite extraordinary miracles to have taken place in terms of the harnessing of the physical world and our dim approaches towards understanding it.


  • Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. The two are rarely compatible.
  • We have become aware of the massive information contained in the genes. There is no known way to science how that information can arise spontaneously. It requires an intelligence; it cannot arise from chance events. Just mixing letters does not produce words.” He added: “For example, the very complex DNA, RNA, protein replicating system in the cell must have been perfect from the very start. If not, life systems could not exist. The only logical explanation is that this vast quantity of information came from an intelligence.
    • Maciej Giertych, a noted geneticist from the Institute of Dendrology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Interviewed in a documentary film. Cited in the book: Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? published by Jehovah's Witnesses.
  • Wissenschaft und Kunst gehören der Welt an, und vor ihnen verschwinden die Schranken der Nationalität.
    • Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality.
    • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, in a conversation with a German historian (1813), as reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Results rarely specify their causes unambiguously. If we have no direct evidence of fossils or human chronicles, if we are forced to infer a process only from its modern results, then we are usually stymied or reduced to speculation about probabilities. For many roads lead to almost any Rome.
  • While bright-eyed Science watches round.
    • Thomas Gray, Ode for Music, Chorus, line 11. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Science can only be comprehended epistemologically, which means as one category of possible knowledge, as long as knowledge is not equated either effusively with the absolute knowledge of a great philosophy or blindly with scientistic self-understanding of the actual business of research.
  • Science could predict that the universe must have had a beginning.
    • Stephen Hawking, in Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays (1993)
  • Science embraces facts and debates opinion; religion embraces opinion and debates the facts.
  • Modern civilization depends on science … James Smithson was well aware that knowledge should not be viewed as existing in isolated parts, but as a whole, each portion of which throws light on all the other, and that the tendency of all is to improve the human mind, and give it new sources of power and enjoyment … narrow minds think nothing of importance but their own favorite pursuit, but liberal views exclude no branch of science or literature, for they all contribute to sweeten, to adorn, and to embellish life … science is the pursuit above all which impresses us with the capacity of man for intellectual and moral progress and awakens the human intellect to aspiration for a higher condition of humanity.
    • Joseph Henry, first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Inscription on the National Museum of American History, Washington, D.C.; reported in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)
  • Science … may be degraded from its native dignity … by placing it in the light of a mere appendage to and caterer for our pampered appetites. The question "cui bono" to what practical end and advantage do your researches tend? is one which the speculative philosopher who loves knowledge for its own sake, and enjoys, as a rational being should enjoy, the mere contemplation of harmonious and mutually dependent truths, can seldom hear without a sense of humiliation. He feels that there is a lofty and disinterested pleasure in his speculations which ought to exempt them from such questioning; communicating as they do to his own mind the purest happiness (after the exercise of the benevolent and moral feelings) of which human nature is susceptible, and tending to the injury of no one, he might surely allege this as a sufficient and direct reply to those who, having themselves little capacity, and less relish for intellectual pursuits, are constantly repeating upon him this enquiry.
  • Science is the knowledge of many, orderly and methodically digested and arranged, so as to become attainable by one.
  • Science is the topography of ignorance.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Medical Essays, 211. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Science is a good piece of furniture for a man to have in an upper chamber, provided he has common sense on the ground floor.
    • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 531
  • Take from the air every aëroplane; from the roads every automobile; from the country every train; from the cities every electric light; from ships even wireless apparatus; from oceans all cables; from the land all wires; from shops all motors; from office buildings every elevator, telephone, and typewriter; let epidemics spread at will; let major surgery be impossible—all this and vastly more, the bondage of ignorance, where knowledge now makes us free, would be the terrible catastrophe if the tide of time should but ebb to the childhood days of men still living! ...Therefore, whoever desires progress and prosperity, whoever would advance humanity to a higher plane of civilization, must further the work of the scientist in every way he possibly can.
  • The great tragedy of Science — the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.
    • Thomas Henry Huxley, Presidential Address at the British Association (1870); "Biogenesis and Abiogenesis", Collected Essays, Volume 8, p. 229
    • Paraphrased variant: That's what happens when a beautiful hypotheses meets a brutal gang of facts.
  • Science … commits suicide when it adopts a creed.
  • Physical science is one and indivisible. ...the method of investigation and the ultimate object of the physical inquirer are everywhere the same. The object is the discovery of the rational order which pervades the universe; the method consists of observation and experiment (which is observation under artificial conditions) for the determination of the facts of nature; of inductive and deductive reasoning for the discovery of their mutual relations and connection.


  • Science is for the laboratory. Other men, who stand alone and face the elemental forces of nature, know that science as a shining, world-conquering hero, is a myth. Science lives in concrete structures full of bright factory toys, insulated from the earth's great forces. The priesthood of this new cult are seldom called upon to stand and face the onslaught.
  • It is necessary to recognize that with respect to unity and coherence, mythical explanation carries one much further than scientific explanation. For science does not, as its primary objective, seek a complete and definitive explanation of the Universe... It satisfies itself with partial and conditional responses. Whether they be magical, mythical, or religious, the other systems of explanation include everything. They are applied to all domains. They answer all questions. They account for the origin, for the present and even for the evolution of the universe.
  • Nature is to us like an infinite ballot-box, the contents of which are being continually drawn, ball after ball, and exhibited to us. Science is but the careful observation of the succession in which balls of various character present themselves...
    • William Stanley Jevons [1874) The Principles of Science: A Treatise on Logic and Scientific Method, Volumes 1-2, p. 169


  • Take a look at George Gamow, who is now recognized as one of the great cosmologists of the last hundred years. I speculate that he probably didn't win the Nobel Prize because people could not take him seriously. He wrote children's books. His colleagues have publicly stated his writing children's books on science had an adverse effect on his scientific reputation, and people could not take him seriously when he and his colleagues proposed that there should be a cosmic background radiation, which we now know to be one of the greatest discoveries of 20th-century physics.
  • The admired wisdom turns out to be that the subject’s task is to strip away more and more of his subjectivity and become more and more objective. … It thereby quite correctly understands the accidental, the angular, the selfish, the eccentric, etc., of which every human being can have plenty. Christianity does not deny, either, that such things are to be discarded. … But the difference is simply that science and scholarship want to teach that becoming objective is the way, whereas Christianity teaches that the way is to become subjective, that is, truly to become a subject.
  • Someone who has lived his whole life in a remote place and in addition has had only slight interest in getting to know nature-how little he knows, he who also speaks of the multiplicity of creation. A natural scientist, on the other hand, who traveled around the world, who has been all over, both above and under the surface of the earth, has seen the abundance that he has seen, and moreover with armed eyes he has at a distance discovered otherwise invisible stars and at extraordinarily close range has discovered otherwise invisible creeping things-how amazing much he knows; yet he uses the same phrase, “multiplicity of creation.” And further, although the natural scientist is happy about what he has succeeded in observing, he willingly admits that there is no limit to discoveries since there is not even any limit to discoveries regarding the instruments used for discovery; therefore the multiplicity, as it is discovered or as new instruments of discovery are discovered, continually becoming greater and greater and can continually become even greater, that is, proves to be even greater-yet all in all it is still, comprehended in the phrase “the multiplicity of creation.”
  • For science is * * * like virtue, its own exceeding great reward.
    • Charles Kingsley, Health and Education, Science. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Some people think that science is just all this technology around, but NO it's something much deeper than that. Science, scientific thinking, scientific method is for me the only philosophical construct that the human race has developed to determine what is reliably true.
  • There's a reason for poetry... Poetry is a very nonlinear use of language, where the meaning is more than just the sum of the parts. And science requires that it be nothing more than the sum of the parts. And just the fact that there's stuff to explain out there that's more than the sum of the parts means that the traditional approach, just characterizing the parts and the relations, is not going to be adequate for capturing the essence of many systems that you would like to be able to do. That's not to say that there isn't a way to do it in a more scientific way than poetry, but I just like the feeling that culturally there's going to be more of something like poetry in the future of science.
  • In the penultimate decade of the twentieth century science is sufficiently advanced to resolve the puzzles that stymied scientists in the last century and demonstrate, without metaphysical speculation, the consistency of evolution in all realms of experience. It is now possible to advance a general evolution theory based on unitary and mutually consistent concepts derived from the empirical sciences.
  • Obviously something is wrong with the entire argument of "obviousness".
    • Paul Lazarsfeld, about the interpretation of results in social science as obvious, in "The American Soldier — An Expository Review", Public Opinion Quarterly, Volume 13, no. 3, (1949) pp. 377-404, 380
  • In Science the paramount appeal is to the Intellect — its purpose being instruction; in Art, the paramount appeal is to the Emotions — its purpose being pleasure. A work of Art must of course indirectly appeal to the Intellect, and a work of Science will also indirectly appeal to the Feelings; nevertheless a poem on the stars and a treatise on astronomy have distinct aims and distinct methods. But having recognised the broadly-marked differences, we are called upon to ascertain the underlying resemblances. Logic and Imagination belong equally to both. It is only because men have been attracted by the differences that they have overlooked the not less important affinities.
  • One can ask two different kinds of questions with regard to the topics of study in psychology as well as in other sciences. One can ask for the phenomenal characteristics of psychological units or events, for example, how many kinds of feelings can be qualitatively differentiated from one another or which characteristics describe an experience of a voluntary act. Aside from this are the questions asking for the why, for the cause and the effect, for the conditional-genetic interrelations. For example, one can ask: Under which conditions has been a decision made and which are the specific psychological effects which follow this decision? The depiction of phenomenal characteristics is usually characterized as “description”, the depiction of causal relationships as “explanation.”
    • Kurt Lewin, in "Gesetz und experiment in der Psychologie" [Law and experiment in psychology] in Symposion, Vol 1 (1927), p. 375-421, as translated by Kurt Kreppner.
  • The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.


  • The purpose of scientific enquiry is not to compile an inventory of factual information, nor to build up a totalitarian world picture of natural Laws in which every event that is not compulsory is forbidden. We should think of it rather as a logically articulated structure of justifiable beliefs about nature.
    • Peter Medawar, Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought (1969)
  • Observation is the generative act in scientific discovery. For all its aberrations, the evidence of the senses is essentially to be relied upon—provided we observe nature as a child does, without prejudices and preconceptions, but with that clear and candid vision which adults lose and scientists must strive to regain.
  • Science, at bottom, is really anti-intellectual. It always distrusts pure reason, and demands the production of objective fact.
    • H.L. Mencken, Minority Report : H.L. Mencken's Notebooks 412 (1956)
  • We'll try to imitate how Galileo and Newton learned so much by studying the simplest kinds of pendulums and weights, mirrors and prisms. ...It is the same reason why so many biologists today devote more attention to tiny germs and viruses than to magnificent lions and tigers. ...In science, one can learn the most by studying what seems the least.
  • What is a scientist?… We give the name scientist to the type of man who has felt experiment to be a means guiding him to search out the deep truth of life, to lift a veil from its fascinating secrets, and who, in this pursuit, has felt arising within him a love for the mysteries of nature, so passionate as to annihilate the thought of himself.
  • This political movement has patently demonstrated that it will not defend the integrity of science in any case in which science runs afoul of its core political constituencies. In so doing, it has ceded any right to govern a technologically advanced and sophisticated nation.
  • Our abiding belief is that just as the workmen in the tunnel of St. Gothard, working from either end, met at last to shake hands in the very central root of the mountain, so students of nature and students of Christianity will yet join hands in the unity of reason and faith, in the heart of their deepest mysteries.
    • Lemuel Moss, Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 530
  • By deliberately cutting off certain phases of man's personality, the warm life of private sensation and private feelings and private perceptions, the sciences assisted in building up a more public world which gained in accessibility what it lost in depth.
    • Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934) Ch. 7 "Assimilation of the Machine"
  • By isolating simple systems and simple causal sequences the sciences created confidence in the possibility of finding a similar type of order in every aspect of experience: it was, indeed, by the success of science in the realm of the inorganic that we have acquired whatever belief we may legitimately entertain in the possibility of achieving similar understanding and control in the vastly more complex domain of life.
    • Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (1934) Ch. 7 "Assimilation of the Machine"


  • Science is not everything, but science is very beautiful.
    • Robert Oppenheimer's last published words With Oppenheimer on an Autumn Day, Look, Volume 30, Number 26, December 19th, 1966
  • We're science: we're all about coulda, not shoulda!
    • Patton Oswalt (track "The Miracle of Childbirth", on Werewolves and Lollipops)
  • The science of fools with long memories.
    • James Planché, Preliminary Observations, Pursuivant of Arms, Speaking of Heraldry. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
    • Max Planck. 'Wissenschaftliche Selbstbiographie. Mit einem Bildnis und der von Max von Laue gehaltenen Traueransprache. 35 pp. (Leipzig, 1948). Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp.33-34 (as cited in T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
  • Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house.
  • To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient truths; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.
    • Henri Poincaré in: Harold Chapman Brown (1914) "The Work of Henri Poincare" in: The Journal of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Methods. Vol 11. p. 9. p. 225-236
  • How index-learning turns no student pale,
    Yet holds the eel of science by the tail.
  • "Today we preach that science is not science unless it is quantitative... [however] many - perhaps most - of the great issues of science are qualitative, not quantitative, even in physics and chemistry. Equations and measurements are useful when and only when they are related to proof; but proof or disproof comes first and is in fact strongest when it is absolutely convincing without any quantitative measurement.
    Or to say it another way, you can catch phenomena in a logical box or in a mathematical box. The logical box is coarse but strong. The mathematical box is fine-grained but flimsy. The mathematical box is a beautiful way of wrapping up a problem, but it will not hold the phenomena unless they have been caught in a logical box to begin with."
    • John R. Platt (1964) "Science, Strong Inference -- Proper Scientific Method (The New Baconians). In: Science Magazine 16 October 1964, Volume 146, Number 3642
  • matter how many instances of white swans we may have observed, this does not justify the conclusion that all swans are white.
    • Karl Popper Ch. 1 "A Survey of Some Fundamental Problems", Section I: The Problem of Induction, p. 27 [1]
  • Dr. Venture: So you see by applying the basic principles of the scientific method to the matter, we learned very quickly that the myth of the Chupacabra is just that -- utter crap. Now if you apply the same principles to the Catholicism, an interesting thing occurs...


  • [... modern science is recently been epitomized as follows:]
    1. Science is constantly, systematically and inexorably revisionary. It is a self-correcting process and one that is self-destroying of its own errors...
    2. A related trait of science is its destruction of dols, destruction of the gods men live by... Science has no absolute right or absolute justice... To live comfortably with science it is necessary to live with a dynamically changing system of concepts... it has a way of weakening old and respected bonds...
    3. Not only are the tenets of science constantly subject to challenge and revision, but its prophets are under challenge too...
    4. Further, the findings of science have an embarrassing way of turning out to be relevant to the customs and to the civil laws of men-- requiring these customs and laws also to be revised...
    5. Certainly we have seen spectacular changes in the concept of private property and of national borders as we have moved into the space age...
    6. Moreover, the pace of technological advance gravely threatens the bountiful and restorative power of nature to resist modification...
    7. Another trait of science that leads to much hostility or misunderstanding by the non-scientist is the fact that science is practiced by a small elite … (which) has cultural patterns discernibly different from those of the rest of society...
    8. The trait that to me seems the most socially important about science, however, is that it is a major source of man's discontent with the status quo..
    • Walter Orr Roberts (1967) "Science, A Wellspring of Our Discontent". American Scholar Summer 1967, pp. 252-58. as cited in Richard F. Ericson (1969). Organizational cybernetics and human values. p. 1
  • In a fashion, at least in your time, science has as much as religion to fear from the free intellect as religion does. And(with irony) any strong combination of intellectual and intuitional abilities is not tailor-made to bring you great friends from either category. Science has, unfortunately, bound up the minds of its own most original thinkers, for they dare not stray from certain scientific principles.
    • Jane Roberts, in The God of Jane: A Psychic Manifesto, p. 146
  • When we believe that science or religion "has the truth," we stop our speculations. While still referring to the theory of evolution, science accepts it as a fact, about existence, and therefore any speculation that threatens that theory becomes almost heretical.
    • Jane Roberts, in The God of Jane: A Psychic Manifesto, p. 58
  • If feminist psychology is correct, the very concept of scientific "objectivity" as a disciplined withdrawal of sympathy by the knower from the known, is a male separation anxiety writ large. Written, in fact, upon the entire universe.
  • What science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.
  • It is not in the nature of things for any one man to make a sudden violent discovery; science goes step by step, and every man depends on the work of his predecessors. When you hear of a sudden unexpected discovery—a bolt from the blue, as it were—you can always be sure that it has grown up by the influence of one man on another, and it is this mutual influence which makes the enormous possibility of scientific advance. Scientists are not dependent on the ideas of a single man, but on the combined wisdom of thousands of men, all thinking of the same problem, and each doing his little bit to add to the great structure of knowledge which is gradually being erected.
  • All the sciences in the world never smoothed down a dying pillow. No earthly philosophy ever supplied hope in death.
    • J. C. Ryle, Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 530


  • 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.
  • To the natural philosopher, to whom the whole extent of nature belongs, all the individual branches of science constitute the links of an endless chain, from which not one can be detached without destroying the harmony of the whole.
    • Friedrich Schoedler (1813 - 1884), Treasury of Science. Astronomy. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Pythagoras, Ptolemy, Kepler, Copernicus, Aristotle, Galileo, Newton and Einstein... These great men, they have been the makers of one side of humanity, which has two sides. We call the one side religion, and we call the other science. Religion is always right. Religion protects us against that great problem which we all must face. Science is always wrong; it is the very artifice of men. Science can never solve one problem without raising 10 more problems.
    • George Bernard Shaw, in a dinner speech at the Savoy Hotel, London (28 October 1930), as quoted by Michael Holroyd, "Albert Einstein, Universe Maker," The New York Times (14 March 1991)
  • It may be true, that as Francis Thompson noted, "Thou canst not stir a flower without troubling a star", but in computing the motion of stars and planets, the effects of flowers do not loom large. It is the disregarding of the effect of flowers on stars that allows progress in astronomy. Appropriate abstraction is critical to progress in science.
    • Herman Shugart, in Plant Functional Types (1997 edition) by Smith, Shugart and Woodward, Cambridge University Press, p. 20
  • A mere index hunter, who held the eel of science by the tail.
    • Tobias Smollett, Peregrine Pickle, Chapter XLIII. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • When a theory successfully withstands an attempt at falsification, a scientist will, quite naturally, consider the theory to be partially confirmed and will accord it a greater likelihood or a higher subjective probability… But Popper will have none of this: throughout his life he was a stubborn opponent of any idea of 'confirmation' of a theory, or even of its 'probability' … [yet] the history of science teaches us that scientific theories come to be accepted above all because of their successes.
    • Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, Fasionable Nonsense 1997
  • Science is organised knowledge.
    • Herbert Spencer, Education, Chapter II. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Scientific skepticism is considered good. […] Under this principle, one must question, doubt, or suspend judgment until sufficient information is available. Skeptics demand that evidence and proof be offered before conclusions can be drawn. […] One must thoughtfully gather evidence and be persuaded by the evidence rather than by prejudice, bias, or uncritical thinking.
  • Science when well digested is nothing but good sense and reason.
    • Stanisław Leszczyński (King of Poland), Maxims, No. 43. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • Science deals with but a partial aspect of reality, and... there is no faintest reason for supposing that everything science ignores is less real than what it accepts. ...Why is it that science forms a closed system? Why is is that the elements of reality it ignores never come in to disturb it? The reason is that all the terms of physics are defined in terms of one another. The abstractions with which physics begins are all it ever has to do with...
  • At its core, therefore, science is a form of arrogance control.
    • Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson. 2008. Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts. Reprint. Mariner Books, p. 108
  • Science falsely so called.
    • I Timothy, VI. 20. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92
  • What are the sciences but maps of universal laws, and universal laws but the channels of universal power; and universal power but the outgoings of a universal mind?
    • Edward Thompson, Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 531


  • There’s no evidence for any of the basic tenets of Darwinian evolution, ... It was a social force that took over the world in 1860, and I think it has been a disaster for science ever since.
  • Holding then to science with one hand — the left hand — we give the right hand to religion, and cry: "Open Thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things, more wondrous than the shining worlds can tell." Obedient to the promise, religion does waken faculties within us, does teach our eyes to the beholding of more wonderful things. Those great worlds blazing like suns die like feeble stars in the glory of the morning, in the presence of this new light. The soul knows that an infinite sea of love is all about it, throbbing through it, everlasting arms of affection lift it, and it bathes itself in the clear consciousness of a Father's love.
    • Bishop H. W. Warren, Quotes reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895) p. 531
  • But beyond the bright searchlights of science,
    Out of sight of the windows of sense,
    Old riddles still bid us defiance,
    Old questions of Why and of Whence.
    • W. C. D. Whetham, Recent Development of Physical Science, p. 10. Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 691-92


  • This statement appears to us to be conclusive with respect to the insufficiency of the undulatory theory, in its present state, for explaining all the phenomena of light. But we are not therefore by any means persuaded of the perfect sufficiency of the projectile system: and all the satisfaction that we have derived from an attentive consideration of the accumulated evidence, which has been brought forward, within the last ten years, on both sides of the question, is that of being convinced that much more evidence is still wanting before it can be positively decided. In the progress of scientific investigation, we must frequently travel by rugged paths, and through valleys as well as over mountains. Doubt must necessarily succeed often to apparent certainty, and must again give place to a certainty of a higher order; such is the imperfection of our faculties, that the descent from conviction to hesitation is not uncommonly as salutary, as the more agreeable elevation from uncertainty to demonstration. An example of such alternations may easily be adduced from the history of chemistry. How universally had phlogiston once expelled the aërial acid of Hooke and Mayow. How much more completely had phlogiston given way to oxygen! And how much have some of our best chemists been lately inclined to restore the same phlogiston to its lost honours! although now again they are beginning to apprehend that they have already done too much in its favour. In the mean time, the true science of chemistry, as the most positive dogmatist will not hesitate to allow, has been very rapidly advancing towards ultimate perfection.
    • Thomas Young, Miscellaneous Works: Scientific Memoirs (1855) Vol. 1, ed. George Peacock & John Leitch, p. 249

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikisource has original works on the topic:
Read in another language