Quotations about Science

I'm sure there are at least a gazillion awesome quotations about science you will NOT find here. What you will find are some I consider quotable that have been scooped from here, there, & who-knows-where...

“Sometimes a concept is baffling not because it is profound but because it is wrong.” – E.O. Wilson, biologist & naturalist

“The theory determines the observation.” – Einstein

“I grew up worshiping at the altar of science, and in my wildest dreams I never thought scientists would behave this way. The only way I can construct a worldview that accommodates this is to say, These people are unscientific. Science should be about pursuing the truth and helping people. If you’re doing it for any other reason, you really ought to question your motives. Unfortunately, in general, academic research and scientists in this country are no longer deserving of the public trust. We’re not.” – Marc Edwards, Virginia Tech civil-engineering professor who was instrumental in breaking the Flint lead story. In this article The Water Next Time: Professor Who Helped Expose Crisis in Flint Says Public Science Is Broken

“A scientific discovery is not an event; it’s a process, and often it takes time for the full picture to come into clear focus.” – Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway, ‘Merchants of Doubt’ (“A documentary that looks at pundits-for-hire who present themselves as scientific authorities as they speak about topics like toxic chemicals, pharmaceuticals and climate change.”)

“It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of the New England Journal of Medicine.” – Dr. Marcia Angell, a physician and longtime editor-in-chief of the New England Medical Journal (NEMJ). Source.

“The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half may simply be untrue. Science has taken a turn toward darkness.” – Richard Horton, Editor in Chief, the Lancet

“The medical profession is being bought by the pharmaceutical industry, not only in terms of the practice of medicine, but also in terms of teaching and research. The academic institutions of this country are allowing themselves to be the paid agents of the pharmaceutical industry. I think it’s disgraceful.”– Arnold Seymour Relman (1923-2014), Harvard Professor of Medicine and Former Editor-in-Chief of the New England Medical Journal (My source: this article ‘One Doctor (Out of Many) Explains How Prescription Drugs Are Killing Us’; it’s from a BMJ article here.

Former Pfizer VP: “Universities, health organizations, and everybody is out there begging for money. Nobody has any money. The only ones who do are the big international corporations, and they have lots of money. They give grants for research, pay doctors and researchers thousands of dollars to travel around, speak at conferences and establish educational programs, all in order to make profits for their products. [The safety trials] are supposedly third-party and independent, but the money won’t keep coming unless you support their drug, unless they say what you want them to say. Everybody knows that this is how things work. The drug companies know it, and you know it; only the public doesn’t know it.” Source: Interview with Dr. Peter Rost, in Gardasil documentary, ‘One More Girl,’ posted by Arjun Walia, July 7, 2015. (My source: the book Vaccines – A Reappraisal, Richard Moskowitz, MD, pg. 33)

“Faith in the magical power of drugs often blunts the critical senses, and comes close at times to a mass hysteria, involving scientists and laymen alike. Men want miracles as much today as in the past. If they do not join one of the newer cults, they satisfy this need by worshiping at the altar of modern science. This faith is not new. It has helped to give medicine the authority of a priesthood, and to recreate the glamor of ancient mysteries.” – Rene Dubos, microbiologist (quoted in the book Vaccines – A Reappraisal, by Richard Moskowitz, MD)

“Journals have devolved into information laundering operations for the pharmaceutical industry.” – Richard Horton in March 2004, at that time editor of the Lancet. (I found this quote in this item & also this item.)

“Not many patients would be happy to hear that there’s a lag of about 17 years between when health scientists learn something significant from rigorous research and when health practitioners change their patient care as a result…” – David Niven in ‘Closing the 17-year Gap Between Scientific Evidence and Patient Care’

“Half of what you'll learn in medical school will be shown to be either dead wrong or out of date within five years of your graduation; the trouble is that nobody can tell you which half—so the most important thing to learn is how to learn on your own.” – Advice from Dave Sackett, the father of evidence based medicine, in this BMJ item ‘Thoughts for new medical students at a new medical school’ which came to me via this item on the Children’s Health Defense site.

“Why do predictions fail to anticipate major complications? Ironically the exquisite precision of our science may itself promote error generation. This is because precision is usually achieved by ignoring context and all the variation outside of our narrow focus, even though biological systems in particular are intrinsically variable and complex rather than uniform and simple. In fact our brains utilize this subtlety and context to make important distinctions, but our scientific methods mostly do not. The problems that come back to bite us then come from details we didn’t consider.” – Martha R. Herbert, PhD, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and pediatric neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital (in her Introduction to Thimerosal - Let the Science Speak, edited by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.)

“We located abundance of consistent evidence demonstrating that the industry has created means to intervene in all steps of the processes that determine healthcare research, strategy, expenditure, practice and education. As a result of these interferences, the benefits of drugs and other products are often exaggerated and their potential harms are downplayed, and clinical guidelines, medical practice, and healthcare expenditure decisions are biased.” - from this 2013 study ‘Undue industry influences that distort healthcare research, strategy, expenditure and practice: a review’

“Much of what medical researchers conclude in their studies is misleading, exaggerated, or flat-out wrong. So why are doctors—to a striking extent—still drawing upon misinformation in their everyday practice? Dr. John Ioannidis has spent his career challenging his peers by exposing their bad science.” – headline up top from a MUST-READ, mind-blowing Nov. 2010 The Atlantic article ‘Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science’ (relevant paper is here)

“Most institutions demand unqualified faith; but the institution of science makes skepticism a virtue.” – Robert King Merton

“I used to think the top environmental problems facing the world were global warming, environmental degradation and eco-system collapse, and that we scientists could fix those problems with enough science. But I was wrong. The real problem is not those three items, but greed, selfishness and apathy. And for that we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.” – Gus Speth in a quote found on Carolyn Baker’s Web site

Scientists cant fix it.jpg

“Only connect. This is how we make meaning. This is how we learn to think as Nature thinks.” – Gregory Bateson, anthropologist

“It is the attempt to separate intellect from emotion that is monstrous, and I suggest that it is equally monstrous – and dangerous – to attempt to separate the external mind from the internal.” – Anthropologist Gregory Bateson on the perils of relying too heavily upon the vaunted value-free truths of modern science (quoted by David Suzuki in his book Wisdom of the Elders)

“The very first requirement for ecological stability is a balance between the rates of birth and death …. Always, in any living (i.e. ecological) system, every increasing imbalance will generate its own limiting factors as side effects of the increasing imbalance …. But the imbalance has gone so far that we cannot trust Nature not to overcorrect.” – Anthropologist Gregory Bateson quoted in Suzuki’s Wisdom of the Elders [in a section on human overpopulation]

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the one most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

“Today no task is more pressing and noble, not only for a scientist, but also for any sober-minded individual, than to prevent nuclear insanity.” – Valery Legasov, head of the former Soviet delegation to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency). He was upset over both the Chernobyl disaster & its handling at the IAEA & UN, & later took his life over it. (tons of great nuke-related quotations here.)

“Men of science have made abundant mistakes of every kind; their knowledge has improved only because of their gradual abandonment of ancient errors, poor approximations, and premature conclusions.” – George Sarton, founder, History of Science Society (quoted in How to End the Autism Epidemic, by J.B. Handley)

“We should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.” – Albert Einstein

“We are aboard a train which is gathering speed, racing down a track on which there are an unknown number of switches leading to unknown destinations. No single scientist is in the engine cab and there may be demons at the switch. Most of society is in the caboose, looking backward.” – Ralph Lapp, Scientist-turned-writer

“There is more religion in men’s science, than there is science in their religion.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862)

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has the data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit the theories instead of theories to suit facts.” – Sherlock Holmes quoted in An Apple A Day – The Myths, Misconceptions & Truths About the Foods We Eat, by Joe Schwarcz, PhD.

"The dumbing down of American is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bites (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudoscience and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance.” – Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark

** Many great quotations about truth    here

** Many great quotations about truth here

 “The means by which we live have outdistanced the ends for which we live. Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“The “control of nature” is a phrase conceived in arrogance, born of the Neanderthal age of biology and philosophy, when it was supposed that nature exists for the convenience of man. The concepts and practices of applied entomology for the most part date from that Stone Age of science. It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.” – concluding words of Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson (published in 1962).

“Can anyone believe it is possible to lay down such a barrage of poisons on the surface of the earth without making it unfit for all life?” – Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

Journalist Bill Moyers: “The news is not good these days. I can tell you, though, that as a journalist I know the news is never the end of the story. The news can be the truth that sets us free - not only to feel but to fight for the future we want. And the will to fight is the antidote to despair, the cure for cynicism, and the answer to those faces looking back at me from those photographs on my desk. What we need to match the science of human health is what the ancient Israelites called ‘hocma’ – the science of the heart.....the capacity to feel....and then to if the future depended on you.Believe me, it does.”

“In short, science is one way – and a very important one – of looking the world, but it is not the only way. It can tell us a very great deal about the natural order, but it cannot tell us all we need and want to know. If you believe it can, then you are subscribing to what is technically called “scientism” – the cult of science – and not to proper science itself. This is an extremely important point because in the eyes of many today, especially young people, science is a kind of god. Unless something can be “proved” scientifically, then it’s thought to be part of an unreal or imaginary world. This is emphatically not the view of true science. Its claims are much more modest. It can often (though not always) tell us how this or that came to be and how it operates but it cannot tell us the final answer. When it comes to questions of ultimate meaning and purpose, it must give way to other voices.” – Tom Harpur in Would You Believe? Finding God Without Losing Your Mind - A book for doubters, sceptics and wistful unbelievers…M & S 1996, pg. 64

“You can be absurd and reject the science; you can be reckless and say we can adapt to whatever happens; or you can be unethical and disregard the future.” – former World Bank chief economist Sir Nicholas Stern, speaking of Canadian Premier Stephen Harper’s refusal to legislate to slow climate change.

“Life is the ultimate teacher, but it is usually through experience and not scientific research that we discover its deepest lessons. A certain percentage of those who have survived near-death experiences speak of a common insight which afforded a glimpse of life’s basic lesson plan. We are all here for a single purpose: to grow in wisdom and to learn to love better. We can do this through losing as well as through winning, by having and by not having, by succeeding or failing. All we need to do is to show up openhearted for class. So fulfilling life’s purpose may depend more on how we play than what we are dealt.” – Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., in Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal

“Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we are beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of (the 1900's) and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin.” – Dr. Dick Irwin, Toxicologist, Texas A&M University

“It is sobering to consider that most of the known toxins that made it on the market and into our bodies did so despite the scientifically based objection of our Health Canada scientists. We now know that the presence in our environment and bodies of all these carcinogens, endocrine disruptors, and neurotoxins was totally preventable, had our governments obeyed the law. Every historical era has had its characteristic health problems, and ours, since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, has been the pursuit of wealth through known poisons.” – Helke Ferrie in an article called ‘Vaccines and antibiotics are dangerous if improperly used’ in the CCPA Monitor in May 2008

“There is fierceness at work here. There is no other explanation for the raw courage and heart displayed over and again in the people who march, speak, create, resist, and build. It is the fierceness of knowing we are human and intend to survive. To witness the worldwide breakdown of civility into camps, ideologies, and wars, to watch the accelerating breakdown of our environmental systems, is harrowing and dispiriting. But immune systems do fail; this movement most certainly could fail as well. What can help preserve it is the gift of self-perception, the gift of seeing who we truly are. We will either come together as one, globalized people, or we will disappear as a civilization. To come together we must know our place in a biological and cultural sense, and reclaim our role as engaged agents of our continued existence. Our minds were made to defend ourselves, born of an immune system that brought us to this stage in our development and evolution. We are surfeited with metaphors of war, such that when we hear the word defense, we think attack, but the defense of the world can be truly accomplished only by cooperation and compassion. Science now knows that while still in diapers, virtually all children exhibit altruistic behavior. Concern for the well-being of others is bred in the bone, endemic and hardwired. We became human by working together and helping one another. According to immunologist Gerald Callahan, faith and love are literally buried in our genes and lymphocytes, and what it takes to arrest our descent into chaos is one person after another remembering who and where they really are.” – Paul Hawken in Blessed Unrest – How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being & Why No One Saw it Coming <Pg. 165>

“My own definition of Dada: an insane lyrical impulse to remain light and carefree, always looking for something to wonder or marvel at, or love, or laugh at, but always remaining illogical and joyous in a world gone mad with too much logic, seriousness, science, newspapers, war, and destruction.” – Irving Stettner

“It is possible that the scientific character of mind is by its nature childish, capable through life of a child’s wonder and excitements, but lacking real discernment, lacking sadness, too easily delighted by its own intellect. There are exceptions, of course, the physicist Steven Weinberg, for example, whom I’ve read and who has the moral gravity you would want from a scientist.” – E.L. Doctorow in his novel City of God, Random House, New York 2000, pg. 12.

“Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy of human beings.” – Helen Keller

“Since the days of revelation, in fact, the same four corrupting errors have been made over and over again … worst of all, concealment of ignorance by a false show of unheld knowledge, for no better reason than pride.” – Roger Bacon

Scientist / M.D. John Gofman (PhD, M.D.) describing his gig with the Atomic Energy Commission, & perversion of science, in an interview with Mother Earth News in 1981:

“Everybody knew, of course, that I didn't want to give up the research program. But I had to. It's really a rather common story: There's just no room for scientific truth in government-funded work when the truth in any way goes against a program that the government — or any of its special interests — wants to carry through. And I believe it's an outrage that we're taxed to support dishonest scientists, or to finance science that's being paid to provide a façade.
I was of value to the Atomic Energy Commission because I was a person of prestige whom they could point to and say, "We've got John Gofman studying this hazard question year in and year out." I was an asset to them as long as I didn't say anything!”
PLOWBOY: You probably could have studied it forever.
GOFMAN: Certainly. Why, I could've had a $3 to $10 million budget every year if I'd simply gone fishing, played tennis, read books or done anything but report on the topic I was assigned to study.
That sort of information suppression is a violation of human rights and health! I've taken care of a lot of cancer and leukemia patients and know — from personal observation — what a miserable disease cancer is. And realizing that millions of people may get that illness, and lose an average of 15 years from their lives, as the result of an activity that's sponsored by government and for which the government is prepared to buy prostituted information makes me damned angry.”

“Science creates a power through its knowledge, a power to do things. It does not give instructions as to how to use it for good rather than evil. Scientists’ statements are approximate, never absolutely certain. We must leave room for doubt, or there is no progress and no learning. There is no learning without having to pose a question, and a question requires doubt. Before you begin an experiment, you must not know the answer. If you already know the answer, there is no need to gather any evidence; and to judge the evidence, you must take all of it, not just the parts you like. That’s a responsibility that scientists feel toward each other, a kind of morality.

Science has had long experience with ignorance, doubt, and uncertainty. Our freedom to doubt was born of a struggle against authority, a very deep and powerful struggle. Permit us to question, to doubt, to not be sure: that’s all we ask. We must not forget the importance of this struggle, or we may lose what we have gained. Here lies a responsibility to society, to pass on what we have learned, and to leave future scientists a free hand. We make a grave error if we say we have the answers now, suppressing all discussion and criticism, and thus doom mankind to be chained to authority, to the limits of our present understanding, as has been done so often before!” – Richard Feynman (professor of Theoretical Physics, Caltech, in The Pleasure of Finding Things Out) ** quoted in Vaccines – A Reappraisal, by Richard Moskowitz, MD

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the one most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin

David Suzuki quotation from the introduction to his essay collection Inventing the Future – Reflections on Science, Technology And Nature (published in 1989):

“The huge increase in material wealth and consumption since the end of the Second World War and the accumulation of powerful methods of extraction of natural resources have generated a sense that science and technology supply the knowledge required to control and manage the entire planet. It is a terrible delusion that is not supported by what science provides and the nature of its technological power.

Another uncomfortable fact is that the vast majority of scientists and engineers in the world carry out work for the military. Such work may be called “defense research” but ultimately it translates into weapons for killing. After all, the horribly imaginative weapons – neutron, particle beam, chemical, biological, ethnic – don’t come from the minds of politicians or military strategists but are the products of the fertile imagination of scientists and engineers.

The majority of the remainder of the scientific and engineering professions works for private industry – for profit...”

 “…we must never forget that science itself is an activity carried out by human beings who have all the perceptual baggage of their society and personal experience.” – David Suzuki in Inventing the Future – Reflections on Science, Technology And Nature <pg. 146>

“Scientists are first and foremost human beings, as subject to the same limitations of cultural bias as anyone else.”  – David Suzuki in Inventing the Future – Reflections on Science, Technology And Nature <Pg. 148>

In the book's section on Science and the Military:

Intro: “Scientists are reluctant to acknowledge that the major uses to which their disciplines are put are military. Over half of all scientists and engineers in the world work directly for or with research grants from departments of defence. While this application of new insights for destructive purposes is not new, the scale and scope of modern military establishments is without precedent.

Today, the total global budget for military expenditures amounts to the staggering sum of $1 trillion (U.S.) annually [remember: the book was published in 1989]. From that budget, monies for research from the Defense Department in the United States, for example, are twice as great as the combined amount spent for transportation, medicine, basic science, communication and agriculture. And whoever pays the piper calls the tune in terms of priorities. It is a grotesque perversion of the high ideals of the scientific community for its ideas and discoveries to be used for destruction and death.”    <from the Intro to the book's section "Science and the Military: An Unholy Alliance" <pg. 87>

*** note on Jan. 28/19: there are some fabulous quotations about science in this item that I have not yet had time to add to this posting. As of Feb. 8/19 some of them have been added.

** This posting on science, scientism, scientists, may be of interest.

** & also the World Scientists Warning to Humanity: the first one, in 1992. & the second one, in December of 2017.