“As the Bacchae knew, we always tear our Gods to bits, and eat the bits we like.”
-- Adam Gopnik, “What Did Jesus Do?” in The New Yorker
“The same energy of character which renders a man a daring villain would have rendered him useful in society, had that society been well organized.”
-- Mary Wollstonecraft-Godwin Shelley
“Each day brings fresh proof to my feeling that orthodoxy of any kind is simply another word for "learning disability." It's in the nature of orthodoxy that one is discouraged to process new information objectively: the world MUST be as previously learned. Hence new data, rejected, leaves the poor person, be it a driver, a doctor, or a politician, severely handicapped. “
“Democracy is the most difficult of all forms of government, since it requires the widest spread of intelligence, and we forgot to make ourselves intelligent when we made ourselves sovereign. Education has spread, but intelligence is perpetually retarded by the fertility of the simple. A cynic remarked that ‘you mustn’t enthrone ignorance just because there is so much of it.’ However, ignorance is not long enthroned, for it lends itself to manipulation by the forces that mold public opinion. It may be true, as Lincoln supposed, that ‘you can’t fool all the people all the time’, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.”
-- Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History
Spinoza knew that all things long to persist in their being; the stone eternally wants to be a stone and the tiger a tiger. I shall remain in Borges, not in myself (if it is true that I am someone), but I recognize myself less in his books than in many others or in the laborious strumming of a guitar.
-- Jorge Luis Borges
As a Jewish child I was regularly instructed, both subtly and openly, that Jews, the people of Maimonides, Albert Einstein, Jonas Salk and Meyer Lansky, were on the whole smarter, cleverer, more brilliant, more astute than other people. And, duly, I would look around the Passover table, say, at the members of my family, and remark on the presence of a number of highly intelligent, quick-witted, shrewd, well-educated people filled to bursting with information, explanations and opinions on a diverse range of topics. In my tractable and vainglorious eagerness to confirm the People of Einstein theory, my gaze would skip right over — God love them — any counterexamples present at that year’s Seder.
.... The shock comes not because we have never encountered any stupid Jews before — Jews are stupid in roughly the same proportion as all the world’s people — but simply because from an early age we have been trained, implicitly and explicitly, to ignore them. A stupid Jew is like a hole in the pocket of your pants, there every time you put them on, always forgotten until the instant your quarters run clattering across the floor.... If, in the words of the 1948 Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, the Jewish people have a natural right “to be masters of their own fate, like all other nations, in their own sovereign state,” then the inescapable codicil of this natural inheritance is that the Jewish people, “like all other nations,” are every bit as capable of barbarism and stupidity.”
-- Michael Chabon on the Israeli blockade of Palestine
“... Nobody—literally nobody—knows how to make the pencil on my desk (as the economist Leonard Read once pointed out), let alone the computer on which I am writing. The knowledge of how to design, mine, fell, extract, synthesize, combine, manufacture and market these things is fragmented among thousands, sometimes millions of heads. Once human progress started, it was no longer limited by the size of human brains. Intelligence became collective and cumulative.”
-- Matt Ridley
“Professor James Leckman of Yale University did tests on the cerebrospinal fluid of OCD sufferers and found gobs and gobs of Oxytocin, the chemical responsible for love, jealousy and parental attachment. As it turns out, OCD-sufferers produce as much of this stuff as new parents and raver kids on ecstasy. This led Leckman to think there may be a very big connection between parenthood and OCD, believing that once upon a time in our evolution, obsessive attention to detailed cleaning and hygiene rituals marked the difference between infants that survived childhood diseases and ones who didn't. Compulsive rituals don't seem so weird when they involve constantly circling the camp site to make sure there are no wolves coming to eat the children.... Apparently succeeding in the human species isn't a matter of being crazy or not crazy, but having just the right amount of craziness.”
-- Robert Evans and Philip Moon, Cracked.com