A selection of quotes from the last year

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know I love throwing in quotes. Here is a selection from the last year:

It is easy for a well-fed metropolitan with time and money on his hands to talk about dealing with his chronic symptoms with Ayurvedic medicine or Chinese herbal remedies, but if you go those countries where they are all they have, you’ll find them crying out for goof old Western antibiotics, painkillers and all the rest of the modern and expensive pharmacopoeia. A Ugandan dying of AIDS-related tuberculosis doesn’t wanted to be treated with the natural remedies of his forefathers: he wants an aseptic syringe full of antibiotics…  John Diamond


We are survival machines—robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment. Richard Dawkins


A language is a dialect with an army and navy. Anonymous


Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.  This has sometimes been attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but without a definite citation.


There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know. Donald Rumsfeld


The palest ink is better than the best memory. Chinese Proverb


Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work—whereas economics represents how it actually does work. Steve Levitt


I remember the time Dr Shipman gave to my dad. He would come round at the drop of a hat. He was a marvellous GP. The son of one of Dr Harold Shipman’s patients. Shipman may well have murdered more than 200 of his patients.


All political lives, unless they are cut off in mid-stream at a happy juncture, end in failure, because that is the nature of politics and of human affairs.  Enoch Powell


Not many moons ago, Monbiot was looked upon by many people as a green-ink eccentric, who was probably given a newspaper column on the same basis that friends of the Marquis de Sade smuggled scraps of paper and pots of ink into his cell in the Charenton insane asylum: because if he’s kept busy writing, he won’t go utterly off his nut. (The chasm-shaped difference between the Marquis and Monbiot, of course, is that the former wrote some brilliant stuff that nobody was allowed to read, while the latter writes inane copy that one can hardly escape.) Spiked on George Monbiot


The Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many sceptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive. Prestigious economist Paul Samuelson in an economics textbook published in 1988, one year before the collapse of the Berlin Wall.


Before we work on artificial intelligence why don’t we do something about natural stupidity? Steve Polyak


You don’t see something until you have the right metaphor to let you perceive it. Robert Stetson, an American physicist, one of the pioneers of chaos theory


In an era of faceless organisations owned by other equally faceless organisations Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities LLC harks back to an earlier era in the financial world: the owner’s name is on the door. From  the company website.


Karl Marx was right, socialism works; it is just that he had the wrong species. Edward O. Wilson suggesting that communism would have been more suitable for ants.


America, based on the premise of absolute equality, has one of the most extremely unequal divisions of wealth in the world. Japan, based on the premise of inequality, is one of the most egalitarian societies of all. Alan Macfarlane, anthropologist.


When I hear the word culture – I release the safety-catch of my Browning. Said by a character from the play Schlageter, written by Nazi playwright Hanns Johst


The common thread that binds nearly all animal species seems to be that males are willing to abandon all sense and decorum, even to risk their lives, in the frantic quest for sex. Randy Thornhill and Craig T. Palmer


We all know how stupid the average person is. Now realize that, by definition, fifty percent of the population is dumber than that. Ivan Stang 


Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.  H. L. Mencken


Economics is the study of the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses. Lionel Robbins


The crossroads of trade are the meeting place of ideas, the attrition ground of rival customs and beliefs; diversities beget conflict, comparison, thought; superstitions cancel one another, and reason begins.  Will Durant


Languages deal with and describe the natural world, a world which is so complex that any individual attempt to describe it, and make sense of it, can only capture part of it. In order to survive, each individual must make some sense of his environment, most fundamentally by acquiring a language. But the language of each individual (his idiolect) only functions effectively if it forms part of a wider structure such as the language of a group, a region or a nation. So our languages are complex decentralised mechanisms for transmitting information. And we use them confidently without much explicit understanding of their structure or of how they develop.  Dr John Marks


There are no atheists in foxholes and there are no libertarians in financial crises. Economist Paul Krugman.


I would remind you that extremism in the defence of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!  Barry Goldwater


Most of economics can be summarised in four words. People respond to incentives. The rest is commentary.  Steven Landsburg


That woman speaks eight languages and can’t say no in any of them. Dorothy Parker


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