Quotes about mistakes

A collection of quotes on the topic of error.

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Leonardo Da Vinci photo
Henri Laborit photo

„What fundamental biological principle gives the largest number the right to think they are preserved from error?“

—  Henri Laborit French physician, writer and philosopher 1914 - 1995

Mais en vertu de quel principe biologique fondamental, le plus grand nombre serait-il préservé de l’erreur?
L'Homme imaginant: essai de biologie politique (1970), p. 36

Max Planck photo

„A new scientific truth does not generally triumph by persuading its opponents and getting them to admit their errors, but rather by its opponents gradually dying out and giving way to a new generation that is raised on it. … An important scientific innovation rarely makes its way by gradually winning over and converting its opponents: it rarely happens that Saul becomes Paul. What does happen is that its opponents gradually die out, and that the growing generation is familiarized with the ideas from the beginning: another instance of the fact that the future lies with the youth.“

—  Max Planck German theoretical physicist 1858 - 1947

Eine neue wissenschaftliche Wahrheit pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen, daß ihre Gegner überzeugt werden und sich als belehrt erklären, sondern vielmehr dadurch, daß ihre Gegner allmählich aussterben und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Wahrheit vertraut gemacht ist. … Eine neue große wissenschaftliche Idee pflegt sich nicht in der Weise durchzusetzen, daß ihre Gegner allmählich überzeugt und bekehrt werden — daß aus einem Saulus ein Paulus wird, ist eine große Seltenheit —, sondern vielmehr in der Weise, dass die Gegner allmählich aussterben und daß die heranwachsende Generation von vornherein mit der Idee vertraut gemacht wird. Auch hier heißt es wieder: Wer die Jugend hat, der hat die Zukunft.
Wissenschaftliche Selbstbiographie. Mit einem Bildnis und der von Max von Laue gehaltenen Traueransprache. Johann Ambrosius Barth Verlag (Leipzig 1948), p. 22, in Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers, (1949), as translated by F. Gaynor, pp. 33–34, 97 (as cited in T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions). Translation revised by Eric Weinberger.

Takeda Shingen photo
Emil M. Cioran photo

„Philosophy's error is to be too endurable.“

—  Emil M. Cioran Romanian philosopher and essayist 1911 - 1995

All Gall Is Divided (1952)

Bertolt Brecht photo
Alexander Hamilton photo

„I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man. The result of the deliberations of all collective bodies must necessarily be a compound, as well of the errors and prejudices, as of the good sense and wisdom, of the individuals of whom they are composed.“

—  Alexander Hamilton, Federalist Papers

No. 85
The Federalist Papers (1787–1788)
Context: I should esteem it the extreme of imprudence to prolong the precarious state of our national affairs, and to expose the Union to the jeopardy of successive experiments, in the chimerical pursuit of a perfect plan. I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man. The result of the deliberations of all collective bodies must necessarily be a compound, as well of the errors and prejudices, as of the good sense and wisdom, of the individuals of whom they are composed.

Walter O'Brien photo
Bjarne Stroustrup photo

„The connection between the language in which we think/program and the problems and solutions we can imagine is very close. For this reason restricting language features with the intent of eliminating programmer errors is at best dangerous.“

—  Bjarne Stroustrup Danish computer scientist, creator of C++ 1950

Bjarne Stroustrup's The C++ Programming Language (Third Edition and Special Edition) Notes to the Reader page 9, 2012-04-28, http://web.archive.org/web/20091128074415/http://www2.research.att.com/~bs/3rd_notes.pdf#page=7, 2009-11-28 http://www2.research.att.com/~bs/3rd_notes.pdf#page=7,

Louis Aragon photo

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Anaïs Nin photo
Jean-François Revel photo
Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot photo

„Be guided by feeling alone. We are only simple mortals, subject to error; so listen to the advice of others, but follow only what you understand and can unite in your own feeling.“

—  Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot French landscape painter and printmaker in etching 1796 - 1875

Quote from Corot's 'Notebooks', ca. 1856, as quoted in Artists on Art – from the 14th – 20th centuries, ed. by Robert Goldwater and Marco Treves; Pantheon Books, 1972, London, p. 241
1850s

Huldrych Zwingli photo

„Balthasar of Waldshit has fallen into prison here - a man not merely irreverent and unlearned, but even empty. Learn the sum of the matter. When he came to Zurich our Council fearing lest he should cause a commotion ordered him to be taken into custody. Since, however, he had once in freakishness of disposition and fatuity, lurked out in Waldshut against our Council, of which place he, by the gods, was a guardian [i. e., he has pastor there], until the stupid fellow disunited and destroyed everything, it was determined that I should discuss with him in a friendly manner the baptising of infants and Catabaptists, as he earnestly begged first from prison and afterwards from custody. I met the fellow and rendered him mute as a fish. The next day he recited a recantation in the presence of certain Councillors appointed for the purpose [which recantation when repeated to the Two Hundred it was ordered should be publicly made Therefore having started to write it in the city, he gave it to the Council with his own hand, with all its silliness, as he promised. At length he denied that he had changed his opinion, although he had done so before a Swiss tribunal, which with us is a capital offence, affirming that his signature had been extorted from him by terror, which was most untrue].
The council was so unwilling that force should be used on him that when the Emperor or Ferdinand twice asked that the fellow be given to him it refused the request. Indeed he was not taken prisoner that he might suffer the penalty of his boldness in the baptismal matter, but to prevent his causing in secret some confusion, a thing he delighted to do. Then he angered the Council; for there were present most upright Councillors who had witnessed his most explicit and unconstrained withdrawal, and had refused to hand to him over to the cruelty of the Emperor, helping themselves with my aid. The next day he was thrust back into prison and tortured. It is clear that the man had become a sport for demons, so he recanted not frankly as he had promised, nay he said that he entertained no other opinions than those taught by me, execrated the error and obstinacy of the Catabaptists, repeated this three times when stretched on the racks, and bewailed his misery and the wrath of God which in this affair was so unkind. Behold what wantonness! Than these men there is nothing more foolhardy, deceptive infamous - for I cannot tell you what they devise in Abtzell - and shameless. Tomorrow or next day the case will come up.“

—  Huldrych Zwingli leader of the Protestant Reformation in Switzerland, and founder of the Swiss Reformed Churches 1484 - 1531

Letter to Capito, January 1, 1526 (Staehelin, Briefe ausder Reformationseit, p. 20), ibid, p. 249-250

François Quesnay photo

„Calculations are to the economic science what bones are to the human body. Without them it will always be a vague and confused science, at the mercy of error and prejudice.“

—  François Quesnay French economist 1694 - 1774

François Quesnay in letter to Mirabeau (Archives Nationales, Ms. 779, 4 bis, p.2 note); as cited in: Richard Van Den Berg and Albert Steenge. "Tableaux and Systèmes. Early French Contributions to Linear Production Models." Cahiers d'économie Politique/Papers in Political Economy 2 (2016): 11-30.

Georges Bidault photo

„The weak have one weapon: the errors of those who think they are strong.“

—  Georges Bidault French politician 1899 - 1983

Quoted in the Observer (UK) newspaper, 15 July 1962.

Edwin Hubble photo
Pope Pius X photo

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“