Thought-provoking, captivating and witty quotes are always useful in communication, either it is written or spoken. Here is a selection which can be used in a scientific setting – suggestions are welcome!

Footnote: the internet is overflowing with qoutes that are attributed to the wrong person. Accordingly, all the sources below have been thoroughly examined.


Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.
Alan Alda (b. 1936), American actor and director 

A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.
Henry Adams (1838-1918), American writer & historian

If everything’s under control, you’re going too slow.
Mario Andretti (1940–), American Formula 1 driver

There is delight to be had merely by looking at the world, but that delight can be deepened when the mind’s eye can penetrate the surface of things to see the connections within.
Peter Atkins (born 1940), British chemist

Essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful.
George E. P. Box (born 1919), American statistician

Le besoin d’avoir raison … marque d’esprit vulgaire.
Albert Camus (1913-60), French writer & philosopher

When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.
Richard Dawkins (born 1941), biologist & writer

I’m the Doctor. I’m a Time Lord. I’m from the planet Gallifrey in the constellation of Kasterborous. I am 903 years old and I’m the man who’s gonna save your lives, and all six billion people on the planet below. You got a problem with that?
Dr Who

Inquiry is fatal to certainty.
Will Durant (1885–1981), American writer and philosopher

If I look confused it’s because I’m thinking.
Samuel Goldwyn (1882–1974), Polish-American film producer

Humanity’s deepest desire for knowledge is justification enough for our continuing quest. And our goal is nothing less than a complete description of the universe we live in.
Stephen Hawking (b. 1942), British astrophysicist

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. Hans Hofmann (1880-1966), German-American painter

It is a capital mistake to theorise before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.
Sherlock Holmes

Try to learn something about everything and everything about something.
Thomas H. Huxley (1825–1895), British biologist

A problem well stated is a problem half solved.
Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958), American engineer & inventor

I cannot stress often enough that what science is all about is not proving things to be true but proving them to be false.
Lawrence M. Krauss (b. 1954), theoretical physicist

Nihil est sine ratione.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716), German matematician and philosopher

One unerring mark of the love of truth is not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant.
John Locke (1632-1704), English philosopher

You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.
Naguib Mahfouz (1911-2006), Egyptian writer & Nobel laureate

Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.
Henry Miller (1891-1980), American writer

Read, every day, something no one else is reading. Think, every day, something no one else is thinking. Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do. It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.
Christopher Morley (1890-1957), American writer

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.
John Muir (1838-1914), naturalist, explorer & writer

Dans les champs de l’observation, le hasard ne favorise que les esprits préparés.
Louis Pasteur (1822–95), French chemist & microbiologist 

The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.
Linus Pauling (1901-1994), American chemist

When an old and distinguished person speaks to you, listen to him carefully and with respect — but do not believe him. Never put your trust into anything but your own intellect. Your elder, no matter whether he has gray hair or has lost his hair, no matter whether he is a Nobel laureate — may be wrong. The world progresses, year by year, century by century, as the members of the younger generation find out what was wrong among the things that their elders said. So you must always be skeptical — always think for yourself.
Linus Pauling (1901-1994), American chemist

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English writer

I don’t want any more bullshit anytime during the day from anyone … And that includes me.
Jack Rebney, The Winnebago Man

Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher and writer

In all affairs it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.
Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), British philosopher and writer

Phfft! Facts. You can use them to prove anything.
Homer Simpson (1987– ), American thinker & hedonist

Alles was überhaupt gedacht werden kann, kann klar gedacht werden. Alles was sich aussprechen läßt, läßt sich klar aussprechen.:
Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951), Austrian philosopher (ur Tractatus logico-philosophicus [4.116], 1918)

Il est dangereux d’avoir raison dans des choses où des hommes accrédités ont tort.
Voltaire (1694–1778), French writer & philosopher

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