Email Signatures Quotations

Current Signature Quotation:

 "What voluptuous thrill may not shake a fly, when at last she discovers the one particular leaf, or carrion, or bit of dung, that out of all the world can stimulate her ovipositor to its discharge?  Does not the discharge then seem to her the only fitting thing?"  William James, quoted by Pinker in The Language Instinct.

Former Signature Quotations:
"Death is a part of life, and pretending that the dead are gathering in a television studio in New York to talk twaddle with a former ballroom-dance instructor is an insult to the intelligence and humanity of the living."  Michael Shermer on John Edward.

"There are still sporadic outbursts of protest, and now and then some zealot will seize an old weapon discarded in the fray and deal the astonished world a blow on the pate with it.  He is not always sure of the issue involved, or of the original purpose of the weapon, but it has a convenient handle and makes a loud thwack, and that is enough for him."  Bergen Evans, _The Natural History of Nonsense_
"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy."  Ernest Benn
"Failure is not an option.  It's bundled with your software."
"Ask a scientist what he conceives the scientific method to be and he will adopt an expression that is at once solemn and shifty-eyed: solemn, because he feels he ought to declare an opinion; shifty-eyed because he is wondering how to conceal the fact that he has no opinion to declare."  Sir Peter Medawar, quoted in Shermer (1997).
"I think college administrators should encourage students to urinate on walls and bushes, because then when students from another college come sniffing around, they'll know this is someone else's territory."  Jack Handy.
"Ignorance and fanaticism are ever busy, indeed feeding, always feeding and gloating for more."  Clarence Darrow.

"There can't be many people in the world that can blow wind like your average psychologists."  Caleb Carr, The Angel of Darkness (talking about writing).

"Are you so unobservant as not to have found out that sanity and happiness are an impossible combination?  No sane man can be happy, for to him life is real, and he sees what a fearful thing it is."  Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger.
"The lecture was to be given tomorrow, and it was now almost eight-thirty.  As a lecturer, Dr. Talc was known for the facile and sarcastic wit and easily digested generalizations that...helped to conceal his lack of knowledge about almost everything in general and British history in particular.  But even Talc realized that his reputation for sophistication and glibness would not save him in the face of his being unable to remember absolutely anything about Lear and Arthur aside from the fact that the former had some children."  John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces.
"And what about these guys who say to you, 'Are they keepin' ya busy?'  I happen to resent even the assumption that there are people who have the authority to keep me busy."  George Carlin.
"Though no man can draw a stroke between the confines of day and night, yet light and darkness are upon the whole tolerably distinguishable."  Edmund Burke.
"Mobius, I have no doubt, did his best from his special and limited point of view; but it was a crime which science should not readily pardon or forget, on the part of editors of the German periodical, to publish and illustrate as scientific material a paper which was so very far from being either fair or adequate."  J. William Dawson.
"Psychology, or at least American psychology, is a second rate discipline.  The main reason is that it does not stand in awe of its subject matter.  Psychologists have too little respect for psychology."  James J. Gibson.
"I know that I feel a flashing genetic kinship with my father on the rare occasions when I break into a run, an exact imitation of the awkward, arm-flapping, change-jingling trot that passed for running when he was in a hurry."  Neil Steinberg.
"There is a pleasing excitement in having to lecture tomorrow on a period of history which I have not heard of till today. . . .  Thus far the only merit of my instruction has been its originality, one hundred youths at any rate have learned facts and theories for which in after life they will hunt the authorities in vain, unless, as I trust, they forget all they have been told."  Henry Adams on teaching history with a high course load.  (Quoted in Legends, Lies, and Cherished Myths of American History, Richard Shenkman.)
"A conservative is one who wants the rules enforced so no one can take his pile the way he got it."
"Suffering severe delusions of adequacy, Mr. Spock groped melodies as effortlessly as someone trying to pick up dimes with a catcher's mitt."  The compilation album Golden Throats 2 on Leonard Nimoy's recording career spanning 10 albums (unfortunately, the web site that sampled Spock's career in music is no more).
"For a long while our normality struck me as tragic, the withering of wondrous flowers that should have been allowed to bloom.  But that was youthful ego.  Now I see we were assuming our rightful spot in the great slurry of ordinary people, most of whom seem to want--at least at some point--to do some fabulous thing with their lives, to be glittering and special, only to eventually abandon their dreams and go on to mundane existences."  Neil Steinberg, Complete and Utter Failure.
"When I turned two I was really anxious, because I'd doubled my age in a year.  I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I'm six I'll be ninety." Steven Wright
"'Angelo's got him a hard road to travel,' Mrs. Reilly said absently.  She was thinking of the PEACE TO MEN OF GOOD WILL sign that Ignatius had tacked to the front of their house after he had come home from work...  'What you think about somebody wants peace, Claude?'  'That sounds like a communiss to me.'"  from A Confederacy of Dunces, John Kennedy Toole.
"If you read trendy intellectual magazines, you may have noticed that 'reductionism' is one of those things, like sin, that is only mentioned by people who are against it."  Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker.
"I'm all for Lawrence Welk.  Lawrence Welk is a wonderful man.  He used to be, or was, or--wherever he is now, bless him."  George Bush.
"Moral indignation is in most cases 2% moral, 48% indignation, and 50% envy."  Vittorio de Sica.
Long-distance dependency:  "How Ann Salisbury can claim that Pam Dawber's anger at not receiving her fair share of acclaim for Mork and Mindy's success derives from a fragile ego escapes me."  Pinker, 1994.
Speech production:  "For seven and a half years I've worked alongside President Reagan.  We've had triumphs.  Made some mistakes.  We've had some sex...uh...setbacks."  George Bush (McWilliams, 1996).
"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."  Albert Einstein.
"Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is."  Margaret Mitchell (McWilliams, 1996).
"It is not only vain, but wicked, in a legislator to frame laws in opposition to the laws of nature, and to arm them with the terrors of death.  This is truly creating crimes in order to punish them."  Thomas Jefferson.
"Sometimes at the end of the day when I'm smiling and shaking hands, I want to kick them."  Richard Nixon.
"If we were to think of the philosophy of mind over the past fifty years as a single individual, we would say of that person that he is a compulsive neurotic, and his neurosis takes the form of repeating the same pattern of behavior over and over."  John R. Searle
"This constant reinterpretation of the meaning of victory, coupled with the utter disregard for the definition of the words being spelled, except as orthographic aids, reinforces my view of the bee as a near-Orwellian mockery of the idea that words convey meaning.  It is like a contest where people hold books at arm's length and try to guess their weight."  Neil Steinberg on the National Spelling Bee.
"I am skeptical that a society that is so tolerant of alcohol and cigarettes should come down so hard on marijuana use and send people to prison for life without parole...  We should not repeal all the drug laws overnight, but we should begin with marijuana and see whether the sky falls."  Chief Judge Richard Posner, U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
"...I confess with all the humility I can muster that the kind of learning you've described is the better--if a comparison is possible.  It's the ideal every college teacher glimpses now and then when he looks up from the dance of death in which he has been caught."  B.F. Skinner, Walden Two.
"'What do we really know about those conditions?' I said, a little out of countenance at being called a philosopher."  B.F. Skinner, Walden Two.