Favorite Quotations  - Frank Benedict

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. - Robert J Hanley

No matter how cynical you get, it's impossible to keep up. - Lily Tomlin


The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. - George Bernard Shaw

We can either have democracy in this country or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. But we can't have both. - Louis Brandeis

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well. - Alfred Adler

Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine. - Sir Arthur Eddington

Age is a very high price to pay for maturity. - Tom Stoppard

Happiness isn't something you experience; it's something you remember. - Oscar Levant

In science one tries to tell people, in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite. - Paul Dirac

Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people's characters. - Margaret Halsey

The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. - Thomas Carlyle

No hypocrisy is too great when economic and financial elites are obliged to defend their interest. - Thomas Piketty

There is nothing so absurd but some philosopher has said it. - Cicero

Nothing is as simple as we hope it will be. - Jim Horning

The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards. - Arthur Koestler

All history is the history of unintended consequences. - Jackson Lears

Absolute faith corrupts as absolutely as absolute power. - Eric Hoffer

In religion and politics, people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second hand, and without examination. - Mark Twain

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. - George Bernard Shaw

It's so much easier to suggest solutions when you don't know too much about the problem. - Malcolm Forbes

A gaffe is a politician inadvertently telling an inconvenient truth. - Michael Kinsley

I finally figured out the only reason to be alive is to enjoy it. - Rita Mae Brown

More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly. - Woody Allen

What gets us into trouble is not what we don't know. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so. - Mark Twain

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. - Harriet Beecher Stowe

One man alone can be pretty dumb sometimes, but for real bona fide stupidity, there ain't nothin' can beat teamwork. - Edward Abbey

It is not necessary to understand things in order to argue about them. - Pierre Beaumarchais

Some people will never learn anything because they understand everything too soon. - Alexander Pope

Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking - H. L. Mencken

I now inhabit a life I don’t deserve, but we all walk this earth feeling we are frauds. - David Carr

The big thieves hang the little ones. - Czech Proverb

I don't mind what language an opera is sung in so long as it is a language I don't understand. - Sir Edward Appleton

In general the modern GOP is basically anti-rational analysis; it’s at war not just with the welfare state but with the Enlightenment. - Paul Krugman

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones. - Bertrand Russell

The most common of all follies is to believe passionately in the palpably not true. It's the chief occupation of humankind. - H. L. Mencken

It is a common delusion that you make things better by talking about them. - Dame Rose Macaulay

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it. - Upton Sinclair

Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. -Herman Melville

I have long been of the opinion that if work were such a splendid thing the rich would have kept more of it for themselves. - Bruce Grocott

Life is a long lesson in humility. - James M. Barrie

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority. The second-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the minority. The first-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking. - AA Milne

The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young. - Willa Cather

A stupid man's report of what a clever man says can never be accurate, because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand. - Bertrand Russell

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again. - Franklin P. Jones

We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology. - Carl Sagan

In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these. - Paul Harvey

Surtout pas trop de zle. (Above all not too much zeal.) - Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand

Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts. - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought. - J. K. Galbreath

You probably wouldn't worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do. - Olin Miller

A cult is a religion with no political power. - Tom Wolfe

His virtue was that he said what he thought, his vice that what he thought didn't amount to much. - Peter Ustinov

Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day. - Bertrand Russell

My idea of an agreeable person is a person who agrees with me. - Benjamin Disraeli

The universe may have a purpose, but nothing we know suggests that, if so, this purpose has any similarity to ours. - Bertrand Russell

The most important scientific revolutions all include, as their only common feature, the dethronement of human arrogance from one pedestal after another of previous convictions about our centrality in the cosmos. - Stephen Jay Gould

Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable. - John Kenneth Galbraith

Before a war military science seems a real science, like astronomy; but after a war it seems more like astrology. - Rebecca West

No one really listens to anyone else, and if you try it for a while you'll see why. - Mignon McLaughlin

Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children. - George Bernard Shaw

One of the lessons of history is that nothing is often a good thing to do and always a clever thing to say. - Will Durant

I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth. - Umberto Eco

With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. - Steven Weinberg

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. - J. K. Galbreath

The denunciation of the young is a necessary part of the hygiene of older people, and greatly assists the circulation of their blood - Logan Pearsall Smith

Illusion is the first of all pleasures. - Oscar Wilde

If we were to wake up some morning and find that everyone was the same race, creed and color, we would find some other cause for prejudice by noon. - George Aiken

On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does. - Will Rogers

By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece. - G. K. Chesterton

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers. - William James

In certain kinds of writing, particularly in art criticism and literary criticism, it is normal to come across long passages which are almost completely lacking in meaning. - George Orwell

Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to believe. - Laurence J. Peter

Platitude: an idea (a) that is admitted to be true by everyone, and (b) that is not true. - HL Mencken

Our great democracies still tend to think that a stupid man is more likely to be honest than a clever man.- Bertrand Russell

There is nothing worse than aggressive stupidity. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly succeed, and are right. - HL Mencken

Skill without imagination is craftsmanship and gives us many useful objects such as wickerwork picnic baskets. Imagination without skill gives us modern art. - Tom Stoppard

A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read. - Mark Twain

There is only one thing a philosopher can be relied upon to do, and that is to contradict other philosophers. - William James

To maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished. - Sun Tzu

There is no human problem which could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise. - Gore Vidal

We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities. - Walt Kelly

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. - Albert Einstein

No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. - H. L. Mencken

True patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it earns it. - Mark Twain

In case you're worried about what's going to become of the younger generation, it's going to grow up and start worrying about the younger generation. - Roger Allen

There is no such thing as an underestimate of average intelligence. - Henry Adams

The Internet is a waste of time, and that's exactly what's right about it. - William Gibson

The trouble with academics and commentators is that they care more about whether ideas are interesting than whether they are true. - Isaiah Berlin

Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats. - Howard Aiken

The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations. - David Friedman

America is a large, friendly dog in a very small room. Every time it wags its tail, it knocks over a chair. - Arnold Toynbee

Happiness is not achieved by the conscious pursuit of happiness; it is generally the by-product of other activities. - Aldous Huxley

Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it. - Laurence J. Peter

Everything is vague to a degree you do not realize till you have tried to make it precise. - Bertrand Russell

The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance. - Cicero

When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross. - Sinclair Lewis

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future. - Sidney J. Harris

I do not know which makes a man more conservative - to know nothing but the present, or nothing but the past. - John Maynard Keynes

I don't know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn't. - Jules Renard

Illegal aliens have always been a problem in the United States. Ask any Indian. - Robert Orben

The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities. - Sophocles

Education's purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. - Malcolm Forbes

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true. - James Branch Cabell

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it. - John Stuart Mill

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible. - Bertrand Russell

Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by stupidity. - Robert J. Hanlon

Contrary to general belief, I do not believe that friends are necessarily the people you like best, they are merely the people who got there first. - Peter Ustinov

If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. - Abraham Maslow

Intelligence is the ability to take in information from the world and to find patterns in that information that allow you to organize your perceptions and understand the external world. - Brian Greene

We should try to create the society each of us would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be. - John Rawls

War is the unfolding of miscalculations. - Barbara Tuchman

Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance. - Will Durant

Ideology makes people stupid. - Andrew Bacevich

It is not worth an intelligent man's time to be in the majority. By definition, there are already enough people to do that. - G. H. Hardy

The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one. - George Bernard Shaw

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. - Arthur Schopenhauer

The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Another unsettling element in modern art is that common symptom of immaturity, the dread of doing what has been done before. - Edith Wharton

Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening. - Barbara Tober

The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not. - Eric Hoffer

I have noticed that the people who are late are often so much jollier than the people who have to wait for them. - E. V. Lucas