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Scientific quotes

Quotes from Albert Einstein

Interpreting scientific research literature

The use of statistics

Smell of baked bread is a health hazard


Scientific quotes


I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Sir Issac Newton


Science progresses best when observations force us to alter our preconceptions.

Vera Rubin


The first principle is that you must not fool yourself —and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you've not fooled yourself, its easy not to fool other scientists.

Richard Feynman, 1974


Genius might be described as a supreme capacity for getting its possessors into trouble of all kinds.

Samuel Butler


When a true genius appears in the world you may know him by this sign: that all the dunces are in confederacy against him.

Jonathan Swift


The thinking of a genius does not proceed logically. It leaps with great ellipses. It pulls knowledge from god knows where.

Dorothy Thompson


It requires a very unusual mind to make an analysis of the obvious.

Alfred North Whitehead


The demonstration that no possible combination of known substances, known forms of machinery, and known forms of force can be united in a practical machine by which man shall fly long distances through the air seems to the writer as complete as it is possible for the demonstration of any physical fact to be.

Professor Simon Newcomb, 1903


Policy is sabotage originating in higher echelons.

Maurice Ewing


Correlation does not imply causation.

Elementary statistics


Experiment and theory often show remarkable agreement when performed in the same laboratory.

Daniel Bershader


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is.

Jan L. A. van de Snepscheut

Computer scientist


Science has an unfortunate habit of discovering information politicians don't want to hear, largely because it has some bearing on reality.

Stephen L Burns


The scientific mind does not so much provide the right answers as ask the right questions.

Claude Lévi-Strauss


Any research organization requires generous measures of the following:

1. Social space for personal initiative and creativity.

2. Time for ideas to grow to maturity.

3. Openness to debate and criticism.

4. Hospitality towards novelty.

5. Respect for specialized expertise.

John Ziman, Prometheus Bound: Science in a Dynamic Steady State

Cambridge University Press, 1994


Quotes from Albert Einstein


Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity...and I'm not sure about the universe.


The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.


Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.


Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.


He who joyfully marches in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would suffice.


The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.


A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend upon the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the measure as I have received and am still receiving.


Everything should be made as simple as possible...but not simpler.


The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mystical. It is the source of all true art and science.


The pioneers of a warless world are the young men who refuse military service.


I believe in intuition and inspiration. Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution. It is, strictly speaking, a real factor in scientific research.


Interpreting scientific research literature


Author unknown

What was said

What was meant

It has long been known that...

I haven't bothered to look up the reference, but...

Of great theoretical and practical importance...

Interesting to me...

While it has not been possible to provide definite answers to these questions...

The experiment didn't work out, but I figured I could at least get a publication...

The operant conditioning method was chosen to study the problem.

The guy across the hall already had the equipment set up.

Three of the samples of Group A were chosen for study...

The others didn't make sense...

Typical/selected results are shown...

The best/only results are shown...

Agreement with the theoretical prediction is excellent/good/satisfactory.

Agreement is fair/poor/imaginary.

It is suggested/believed/proposed that...

I think that...

It is generally agreed that...

The guy across the hall thinks so, too.

It is clear that much additional work will be required before a complete understanding...

I don't understand it.

Unfortunately, a quantitative theory that accounts for these results has not yet been formulated.

I can't think of one and neither has the guy across the hall.

Correct within an order of magnitude.


Thanks are due to Sam Zebeard for assistance with the experiments and to Jane Glotz for valuable discussions...

Zebeard did the work; Glotz explained it.


The use of statistics


Correlation does not imply causation.

Statistics are widely used by scientists, politicians, bureaucrats, and fear mongers with an agenda. Only rarely do those using statistics have any formal training or a basic understanding of the problems. As a result statistics are as frequently misused to "prove" a point, as in the following example.

For the statistically challenged, or those who need grant money, here are some ideas on data manipulation...

Smell of baked bread a health hazard —statistical proof

Author unknown

A recent Cincinnati Enquirer headline read, "Smell of baked bread may be health hazard." The article went on to describe the dangers of the smell of baking bread. The main danger, apparently, is that the organic components of this aroma may break down ozone (I'm not making this stuff up).

I was horrified! When are we going to do something about bread-induced global warming? Sure, we attack tobacco companies, but when is the government going to go after Big Bread?

Well, I've done a little research, and what I've discovered should make anyone think twice....


1: More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread eaters.


2: Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.


3: In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever and influenza ravaged whole nations.


4: More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.


5: Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!


6: Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low occurrence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis.


7: Bread has been proven to be addictive. Subjects deprived of bread and given only water to eat begged for bread after only two days.


8: Bread is often a "gateway" food item, leading the user to "harder" items such as butter, jelly, peanut butter and even cold cuts.


9: Bread has been proven to absorb water. Since the human body is more than 90 percent water, it follows that eating bread could lead to your body being taken over by this absorptive food product, turning you into a soggy, gooey bread-pudding person.


10: Newborn babies can choke on bread.


11: Bread is baked at temperatures as high as 400 degrees Fahrenheit! That kind of heat can kill an adult in less than one minute.


12: Most American bread eaters are utterly unable to distinguish between significant scientific fact and meaningless statistical babbling.


In light of these frightening statistics, we propose the following bread restrictions:


1: No sale of bread to minors.


2: No advertising of bread within 1,000 feet of a school.


3: A 300 percent federal tax on all bread to pay for all the societal ills we might associate with bread.


4: No animal or human images, nor any primary colors (which may appeal to children) may be used to promote bread usage.


5: A $4.2 zillion fine on the three biggest bread manufacturers.

Please pass this information on to everyone you know who cares about this crucial issue.



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Last modified 3/17/16