Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Quote of the Millenium

Salviati: In the long run my observations have convinced me that some men, reasoning preposterously, first establish some conclusion in their minds which, either because of its being their own or because of their having received it from some person who has their entire confidence, impresses them so deeply that one finds it impossible to get it out of their heads. Such arguments in support of their fixed idea as they hit upon themselves or hear set forth by others, no matter how simple and stupid these may be, gain their instant acceptance and applause. On the other hand, whatever is brought forward against it, however ingenious and conclusive, the receive with disdain or with hot rage -- if indeed it does not make them ill. Beside themselves with passion, some of them would not be backward even about scheming to suppress and silence their adversaries. I have had some experience of this myself.

Sagredo: I know; such men do not deduce their conclusions from its premises or establish it by reason, but they accommodate (I should have said discommode and distort) the premises and reasons to a conclusion which for them is already established and nailed down. . . .

-- Galileo Galilei, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, translated by Stillman Drake.

I will have a good deal more to say about this astonishing, and lately insufficiently appreciated document, in coming weeks. Salviati is Galileo's alter ego; Sagredo is his friend who stands for the open-minded interlocutor.

3 comments:

C. Corax said...

Merry Christmas to you and the deer on your property!

Given the flat-earth mindset of the woo crowd and the teabagggers, I doubt that quotes from Galileo will bring them to any self-awareness.

But, damn, that's a great quote!

Cervantes said...

Galileo was living in the far future. I wonder who is living in the 23rd Century today?

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