Heat and Light

If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. If some one maintains that two and two are five, or that Iceland is on the equator, you feel pity rather than anger, unless you know so little of arithmetic or geography that his opinion shakes your own contrary conviction. The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic, because in arithmetic there is knowledge, but in theology there is only opinion. So whenever you find yourself getting angry about a difference of opinion, be on your guard; you will probably find, on examination, that your belief is going beyond what the evidence warrants.

— Bertrand Russell, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish,” 1943



“What makes us so bitter against people who outwit us is that they think themselves cleverer than we are.” — La Rochefoucauld

“Nothing hath an uglier Look to us than Reason, when it is not of our side.” — George Savile, Marquess of Halifax

“Behind every argument is someone’s ignorance.” — Louis Brandeis



“Philosophy consists very largely of one philosopher arguing that all others are jackasses. He usually proves it, and I should add that he usually proves that he is one himself.” — H.L. Mencken



“Wandering in a vast forest at night, I have only a faint light to guide me. A stranger appears and says to me: ‘My friend, you should blow out your candle in order to find your way more clearly.’ This stranger is a theologian.” — Diderot