Damned Heretics

Condemned by the established, but very often right

I am Nicolaus Copernicus, and I approve of this blog

I am Richard Feynman and I approve of this blog

Qualified outsiders and maverick insiders are often right about the need to replace received wisdom in science and society, as the history of the Nobel prize shows. This blog exists to back the best of them in their uphill assault on the massively entrenched edifice of resistance to and prejudice against reviewing, let alone revising, ruling ideas. In support of such qualified dissenters and courageous heretics we search for scientific paradigms and other established beliefs which may be maintained only by the power and politics of the status quo, comparing them with academic research and the published experimental and investigative record.

We especially defend and support the funding of honest, accomplished, independent minded and often heroic scientists, inventors and other original thinkers and their right to free speech and publication against the censorship, mudslinging, false arguments, ad hominem propaganda, overwhelming crowd prejudice and internal science politics of the paradigm wars of cancer, AIDS, evolution, global warming, cosmology, particle physics, macroeconomics, health and medicine, diet and nutrition.

HONOR ROLL OF SCIENTIFIC TRUTHSEEKERS

Henry Bauer, Peter Breggin , Harvey Bialy, Giordano Bruno, Erwin Chargaff, Nicolaus Copernicus, Francis Crick, Paul Crutzen, Marie Curie, Rebecca Culshaw, Freeman Dyson, Peter Duesberg, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, John Fewster, Galileo Galilei, Alec Gordon, James Hansen, Edward Jenner, Benjamin Jesty, Michio Kaku, Adrian Kent, Ernst Krebs, Thomas Kuhn, Serge Lang, John Lauritsen, Mark Leggett, Richard Lindzen, Lynn Margulis, Barbara McClintock, George Miklos, Marco Mamone Capria, Peter Medawar, Kary Mullis, Linus Pauling, Eric Penrose, Max Planck, Rainer Plaga, David Rasnick, Sherwood Rowland, Carl Sagan, Otto Rossler, Fred Singer, Thomas Szasz, Alfred Wegener, Edward O. Wilson, James Watson.
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Many people would die rather than think – in fact, they do so. – Bertrand Russell.

Skepticism is dangerous. That’s exactly its function, in my view. It is the business of skepticism to be dangerous. And that’s why there is a great reluctance to teach it in schools. That’s why you don’t find a general fluency in skepticism in the media. On the other hand, how will we negotiate a very perilous future if we don’t have the elementary intellectual tools to ask searching questions of those nominally in charge, especially in a democracy? – Carl Sagan (The Burden of Skepticism, keynote address to CSICOP Annual Conference, Pasadena, April 3/4, 1982).

It is really important to underscore that everything we’re talking about tonight could be utter nonsense. – Brian Greene (NYU panel on Hidden Dimensions June 5 2010, World Science Festival)

I am Albert Einstein, and I heartily approve of this blog, insofar as it seems to believe both in science and the importance of intellectual imagination, uncompromised by out of date emotions such as the impulse toward conventional religious beliefs, national aggression as a part of patriotism, and so on.   As I once remarked, the further the spiritual evolution of mankind advances, the more certain it seems to me that the path to genuine religiosity does not lie through the fear of life, and the fear of death, and blind faith, but through striving after rational knowledge.   Certainly the application of the impulse toward blind faith in science whereby authority is treated as some kind of church is to be deplored.  As I have also said, the only thing ever interfered with my learning was my education. My name as you already perceive without a doubt is George Bernard Shaw, and I certainly approve of this blog, in that its guiding spirit appears to be blasphemous in regard to the High Church doctrines of science, and it flouts the censorship of the powers that be, and as I have famously remarked, all great truths begin as blasphemy, and the first duty of the truthteller is to fight censorship, and while I notice that its seriousness of purpose is often alleviated by a satirical irony which sometimes borders on the facetious, this is all to the good, for as I have also famously remarked, if you wish to be a dissenter, make certain that you frame your ideas in jest, otherwise they will seek to kill you.  My own method was always to take the utmost trouble to find the right thing to say, and then to say it with the utmost levity. (Photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt for Life magazine) One should as a rule respect public opinion in so far as is necessary to avoid starvation and to keep out of prison, but anything that goes beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny, and is likely to interfere with happiness in all kinds of ways. – Bertrand Russell, Conquest of Happiness (1930) ch. 9

(Click for more Unusual Quotations on Science and Belief)

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Why is Mark Wainberg angry? Bertrand Russell explains.

Disturbing truths on HIV?AIDS from a skeptical philosopher

Since philosophers, according to William S. Sah and Mabel Lewis Sahakian in their excellent little book Ideas of the Great Philosophers (good buy at Barnes and Noble currently at $6.98), are responsible for “the critical evaluation of all the facts of experience”, we thought we would call on Bertrand Russell to explain the Wainberg syndrome.

The Wainberg syndrome (see last post) is the tendency of people who hold a particular point of view to get angry when it is examined by someone who wants to question it and them. In the case of HIV?AIDS, this is often channeled into vehement accusations of “Holocaust denialism”, discouraging the use of condoms, wishing Africans dead or simply “pure evil”, as Mark Wainberg of Montreal put it before storming off camera in his abruptly terminated interview for The Other Side of AIDS.

Wherever he is now, Bertrand Russell responded rapidly to our enquiry, appearing floating in front of us smiling from under bushy white eyebrows and with a pipe in his mouth and guiding us to his book of essays on the many follies of mankind, which has a most straightforward explanation of this seemingly irrational phenomenon, where people who claim to be sure of their view nonetheless choose to use bullying tactics to prevent discussion, rather than confidently take on all comers.

Russell’s simple explanation is that when you get angry at a logical challenge, it is usually because you know you might be wrong. The challenger is threatening to upset your house of cards, which is already rickety.

“If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do. If someone 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.” – Unpopular Essays: An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish (1950).

As to why so many in HIV?AIDS believe in what is evidently a very bad idea, that the cause of AIDS is HIV, a claim unsustainable according to twenty years of unrefuted analysis by the leading mind in the field in the top peer reviewed journals, Russell had a ready answer on a nearby page:

“Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.”

But surely, we asked Russell, that would be too silly an explanation for the serious belief of such huge number of respected scientists and officials in high positions in institutions and governments around the world, even including the President of the United States?

He sent us back to Unpopular Essays –

“There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”

and then to Christian Ethics, from Marriage and Morals (1950):

“It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this…..The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.

Well, we told the great philosopher, we certainly would have expected a bad idea to fall in twenty years, except for the fact that critics and commentators who broach the topic have been muzzled by the Wainberg syndrome and numerous other roadblocks to discussion and publication, which have left even the most distinguished journalists and scientific critics marginalized and severely unfunded.

Russell’s spirit guided our hand to another of the geat man’s volumes, Skeptical Essays of 1928, where we found his sympathetic response:

“It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions make it impossible to earn a living.”

We wondered what he thought of our own conclusion that the religious impulse had been let loose to cause mischief in this scientific arena. He replied by leading us to his 1954 remarks on “Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?”:

“What I mean by intellectual integrity is the habit of deciding vexed questions in accordance with the evidence, or of leaving them undecided where the evidence is inconclusive. This virtue, though it is underestimated by almost all adherents of any system of dogma, is to my mind of the very greatest social importance and far more likely to benefit the world than Christianity or any other system of organized beliefs.”

Yes, we agreed, it seemed that dogma had indeed replaced that independent habit of mind in science, at least in this field. We told him about Classically Liberal, the blogger whose liberal values had been so shockingly shortciruited by watching Mark Wainberg in the documentary The Other Side of AIDS (see last post).

Russell led us back to a page in Unpopular Essays, this one on Philosophy and Politics:

“The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way in which they are held in theology.”

Apparently the field of HIV?AIDS had been overtaken by theology, then, we informed the sharp witted old philosopher, apparently as alert in the spirit world as he was on Earth. Did he have any idea how disappointing were many of the responses on the newfangled blogosphere to questioning HIV as the cause of AIDS were?

Russell’s spirit hand guided us to a page on Christian Ethics in Marriage and Morals from 1950:

“The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.”

Really? But why was it that readers of newspapers that told the story of HIV and AIDS didn’t grow unsure that the story made any sense, when it was so full of improbabilities and impossibilities, such as a heterosexual global epidemic spreading through sex to millions when the mainstream literature itself found that transfer of HIV through heterosexual coupling was negligible if not non existent?

Russell smiled, and a volume of his Skeptical Essays (1928) fell open:

“What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.”

But why should those in power in HIV?AIDS, enjoying the rich fruits of their priesthood in this globally dominant and highly rewarding (to them) scientific religion, resent the efforts of the few scientifically inclined to sort out the conundrums of HIV?AIDS, and smear them, block them from publication, insult them, and run them out of town?

“Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion; it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindness in favor of systematic hatred.”

How extraordinarily irrational mankind seemed to be, according to his view, we complained. Apparently most of us are fonder of wrong ideas than we are of right ideas, and want to force them on other people much more strongly than right ideas.

“Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false,” replied Russell from the pages of Unpopular Essays again.

Enough, we cried. You are too cynical, and too clever by half. Just tell us what we are to make of the HIV?AIDS story, believed so vehemently by Mark Wainberg, and so easily by Larry Kramer, and so adamantly by Tony Fauci, and so enthusiastically by Robert Gallo, and endorsed by institutions and newspapers around the world, yet always questioned at great self sacrifice by one of the cleverest minds in science, the remarkable pioneering scientist Peter Duesberg of Berkeley, who seems to find nothing in it at all.

How can there be nothing in an idea believed by virtually all the six billion people on the planet who have heard about it? If it is such a bad idea, why hasn’t it been thoroughly disproved?

The renowned aristocrat smiled faintly and conjured up another page with a weary sigh:

“Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.”

Russell was speaking to us from an essay comissioned by Illustrated Magazine in 1952 but never published by them.

Suddenly we had had enough of this godless, heartless talk. How unpleasant disbelievers are! No wonder they are shunned and persecuted. Their truth is not beautiful, it is ugly – it reveals error, and undermines social cohesion. All they want to do is argue, and undermine faith. They make us feel positively insecure. They are a blight on optimism. No wonder they are outsiders.

Seeing what we felt, Russell kindly observed in What I Believe that

“Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigor, and the great spaces have a splendor all their own.”

Seeing us unconvinced, he added by steering us to the Conquest of Happiness:

“The forms of zest are innumerable. Sherlock Holmes, it may be remembered, picked up a hat which he happened to find lying in the street. After looking at it for a moment he remarked that its owner had come down in the world as the result of drink and that his wife was no longer so fond of him as she used to be. Life could never be boring to a man to whom casual objects offered such a wealth of interest. Think of the different things that may be noticed in the course of a country walk. One man may be interested in the birds, another in the vegetation, another in the geology, another in the agriculture, and so on. Any one of these things is interesting if it interests you, and, other things being equal, the man who is interested in any one of them is better adapted to the world than the man who is not interested.”

Slightly reassured, we thanked Russell politely and sent him back to his cloud in non-heaven.

An excellent selection of many of these and other Russell quotes on science and religion are at Positive Atheism’s Big List of Bertrand Russell Quotations)

(show)
Positive Atheism’s Big List of

Bertrand Russell

Quotations

Bertrand Arthur William Russell [Third Earl Russell] (1872-1970)

British philosopher, mathematician, social critic, writer

It is clear that thought is not free if the profession of certain opinions make it impossible to earn a living.

— Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays (1928) †â€

My conclusion is that there is no reason to believe any of the dogmas of traditional theology and, further, that there is no reason to wish that they were true. Man, in so far as he is not subject to natural forces, is free to work out his own destiny. The responsibility is his, and so is the opportunity.

— Bertrand Russell, “Is There a God?” commissioned by, but never published in, Illustrated Magazine (1952: repr. The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, Volume 11: Last Philosophical Testament, 1943-68, ed. John G. Slater and Peter Köllner (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 543-48, quoted from S. T. Joshi, Atheism: A Reader

I mean by intellectual integrity the habit of deciding vexed questions in accordance with the evidence, or of leaving them undecided where the evidence is inconclusive. This virtue, though it is underestimated by almost all adherents of any system of dogma, is to my mind of the very greatest social importance and far more likely to benefit the world than Christianity or any other system of organized beliefs.

— Bertrand Russell, “Can Religion Cure Our Troubles?” (1954)

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.

— Bertrand Russell, from from “An Outline of Intellectual

Rubbish” in the collection, Unpopular Essays

Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.

— Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish” (1950), p. 149, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

So far as I can remember, there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence; and in this respect ministers of religion follow gospel authority more closely than in some others.

— Bertrand Russell, quoted, in part, from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

One is often told that it is a very wrong thing to attack religion, because religion makes men virtuous. So I am told; I have not noticed it.

— Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not A Christian,” Little Blue Book No. 1372 edited by E. Haldeman-Julius.

The essence of the liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment. This is the way opinions are held in science, as opposed to the way in which they are held in theology.

— Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, “Philosophy and Politics” (1950), p. 149, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

— Bertrand Russell, “Christian Ethics” from Marriage and Morals (1950), quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

Dogma demands authority, rather than intelligent thought, as the source of opinion; it requires persecution of heretics and hostility to unbelievers; it asks of its disciples that they should inhibit natural kindness in favor of systematic hatred.

— Bertrand Russell, quoted from Laird Wilcox, ed., “The Degeneration of Belief”

Most of the greatest evils that man has inflicted upon man have come through people feeling quite certain about something which, in fact, was false.

— Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, “Ideas That Have Harmed Mankind” (1950), p. 149, quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

The degree of one’s emotion varies inversely with one’s knowledge of the facts — the less you know the hotter you get.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

[Regarding] the convention that clergymen are more virtuous than other men. Any average selection of mankind, set apart and told that it excels the rest in virtue, must tend to sink below the average.

— Bertrand Russell, “Religion and the Churches” (1916), quoted from Annie Laurie Gaylor, Betrayal of Trust: Clergy Abuse of Children (1988)

Religion is something left over from the infancy of our intelligence, it will fade away as we adopt reason and science as our guidelines.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

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.

— Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays, “An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish” (1950), quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

Heretical views arise when the truth is uncertain, and it is only when the truth is uncertain that censorship is invoked.

— Bertrand Russell, “The Value Of Free Thought,” quoted from Laird Wilcox, ed., “The Degeneration of Belief”

The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed, the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction.

— Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays “On the Value of Skepticism” (1950), quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

It is permissible with certain precautions to speak in print of coitus, but it is not permissible to employ the monosyllabic synonym for this word.

— Bertrand Russell, in the spirit of H. L. Mencken’s quip, “It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics or chemistry.” (attributed: source unknown)

William James used to preach “the will to believe”. For my part, I should wish to preach “the will to doubt”. What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out, which is the exact opposite.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time.

— Bertrand Russell, “Is There a God?” commissioned by, but never published in, Illustrated Magazine (1952: repr. The Collected Papers of Bertrand Russell, Volume 11: Last Philosophical Testament, 1943-68, ed. John G. Slater and Peter Köllner (London: Routledge, 1997), pp. 543-48, quoted from S. T. Joshi, Atheism: A Reader

That is the idea — that we should all be wicked if we did not hold to the Christian religion. It seems to me that the people who have held to it have been for the most part extremely wicked. You find this curious fact, that the more intense has been the religion of any period and the more profound has been the dogmatic belief, the greater has been the cruelty and the worse has been the state of affairs. In the so-called Ages of faith, when men really did believe the Christian religion in all its completeness, there was the Inquisition, with all its tortures; there were millions of unfortunate women burned as witches; and there was every kind of cruelty practiced upon all sorts of people in the name of religion.

— Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not A Christian,” Little Blue Book No. 1372 edited by E. Haldeman-Julius.

The whole conception of a God is a conception derived from the ancient oriental despotisms. It is a conception quite unworthy of free men…. We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages.

— Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not A Christian,” Little Blue Book No. 1372 edited by E. Haldeman-Julius.

My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race. I cannot, however, deny that it has made some contributions to civilization. It helped in early days to fix the calendar, and it caused Egyptian priests to chronicle eclipses with such care that in time they became able to predict them. These two services I am prepared to acknowledge, but I do not know of any others.

— Bertrand Russell, “Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?”

Even if the open windows of science at first make us shiver after the cosy indoor warmth of traditional humanizing myths, in the end the fresh air brings vigor, and the great spaces have a splendor all their own.

— Bertrand Russell, What I Believe ‡‡

I was told that the Chinese said they would bury me by the Western Lake and build a shrine to my memory. I have some slight regret that this did not happen, as I might have become a god, which would have been very chic for an atheist.

— Bertrand Russell, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell (1967-1969), quoted from Encarta Book of Quotations (1999)

Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand-in-hand. It is because fear is at the basis of those two things. In this world we can now begin a little to understand things, and a little to master them by the help of science, which has forced its way step by step against the Christian religion, against the churches, and against the opposition of all the old precepts. Science can help us to get over this craven fear in which mankind has lived for so many generations. Science can teach us, and I think our own hearts can teach us, no longer to look around for imaginary supports, no longer to invent allies in the sky, but rather to look to our own efforts here below to make this world a fit place to live in, instead of the sort of place that the churches in all these centuries have made it.

— Bertrand Russell, “Why I Am Not A Christian,” Little Blue Book No. 1372 edited by E. Haldeman-Julius

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind…. This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me.

— Bertrand Russell, “What I Have Lived For,” the prologue to his Autobiography, vol. I. p. 4

My whole religion is this: do every duty, and expect no reward for it, either here or hereafter.

— Bertrand Russell, childhood diary, quoted from Against the Faith by Jim Herrick

What is wanted is not the will to believe, but the will to find out, which is the exact opposite.

— Bertrand Russell, Skeptical Essays (1928)

United with his fellow-men by the strongest of all ties, the tie of a common doom, the free man finds that a new vision is with him always, shedding over every daily task the light of love. The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided. Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing courage, to instil faith in hours of despair. Let us not weigh in grudging scales their merits and demerits, but let us think only of their need — of the sorrows, the difficulties, perhaps the blindnesses, that make the misery of their lives; let us remember that they are fellow-sufferers in the same darkness, actors in the same tragedy as ourselves. And so, when their day is over, when their good and their evil have become eternal by the immortality of the past, be it ours to feel that, where they suffered, where they failed, no deed of ours was the cause; but wherever a spark of the divine fire kindled in their hearts, we were ready with encouragement, with sympathy, with brave words in which high courage glowed.

— Bertrand Russell, “A Free Man’s Worship” (originally “The Free Man’s Worship,” December, 1903)

The forms of zest are innumerable. Sherlock Holmes, it may be remembered, picked up a hat which he happened to find lying in the street. After looking at it for a moment he remarked that its owner had come down in the world as the result of drink and that his wife was no longer so fond of him as she used to be. Life could never be boring to a man to whom casual objects offered such a wealth of interest. Think of the different things that may be noticed in the course of a country walk. One man may be interested in the birds, another in the vegetation, another in the geology, another in the agriculture, and so on. Any one of these things is interesting if it interests you, and, other things being equal, the man who is interested in any one of them is better adapted to the world than the man who is not interested.

— Bertrand Russell, The Conquest of Happiness, p. 95

Are you never afraid of God’s judgment in denying him?

“Most certainly not. I also deny Zeus and Jupiter and Odin and Brahma, but this causes me no qualms. I observe that a very large portion of the human race does not believe in God and suffers no visible punishment in consequence. And if there were a God, I think it very unlikely that He would have such an uneasy vanity as to be offended by those who doubt His existence.”

— Bertrand Russell, “What Is an Agnostic?”

What makes a free thinker is not his beliefs, but the way in which he holds them. If he holds them because his elders told him they were true when he was young, or if he holds them because if he did not he would be unhappy, his thought is not free; but if he holds them because, after careful thought, he finds a balance in their favor, then his thought is free, however odd his conclusions may seem.

— Bertrand Russell, “The Value of Free Thought”

There is something feeble and a little contemptible about a man who cannot face the perils of life without the help of comfortable myths. Almost inevitably some part of him is aware that they are myths and that he believes them only because they are comforting. But he dares not face this thought! Moreover, since he is aware, however dimly, that his opinions are not rational, he becomes furious when they are disputed.

— Bertrand Russell, Human Society in Ethics and Politics (1954), quoted from James A. Haught, “Breaking the Last Taboo” (1996)

It is no credit to the orthodox that they do not now believe all the absurdities that were believed 150 years ago. The gradual emasculation of the Christian doctrine has been effected in spite of the most vigorous resistance, and solely as the result of the onslaughts of freethinkers.

— Bertrand Russell, “Has Religion Made Useful Contributions to Civilization?”

There is no excuse for deceiving children. And when, as must happen in conventional families, they find that their parents have lied, they lose confidence in them and feel justified in lying to them.

— Bertrand Russell, Our Sexual Ethics (1936)

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence that it is not utterly absurd; indeed, in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.

— Bertrand Russell, “Christian Ethics” from Marriage and Morals (1950), quoted from James A. Haught, ed., 2000 Years of Disbelief

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.

— Bertrand Russell, Unpopular Essays (1950), quoted from Jonathon Green, The Cassell Dictionary of Cynical Quotations

Many people would rather die than think; in fact, most do.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

Of course not. After all, I may be wrong.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed), having been asked whether he would be prepared to die for his beliefs, quoted from Encarta® Book of Quotations (1999)

A stupid man’s report of what a clever man says is never accurate because he unconsciously translates what he hears into something he can understand.

— Bertrand Russell, The History of Western Philosophy, quoted from Lee Eisler, ed., The Quotable Bertrand Russell

The good life, as I conceive it, is a happy life. I do not mean that if you are good you will be happy; I mean that if you are happy you will be good.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

This, however, is a passing nightmare; in time the earth will become again incapable of supporting life, and peace will return.

— Bertrand Russell (attributed: source unknown)

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3 Responses to “Why is Mark Wainberg angry? Bertrand Russell explains.”

  1. the trackman Says:

    even if Mark Wainberg appears to be angry, I think that he cannot understand why we, the reappraisers, yet deny that his drugs work. Of course, 3TC, dOTC, FTC are working. But they don’t work as chain terminator, but I think that they work as antioxidants, mainly in the presence of electrophiles as nitric oxide cation, which can catalyze the hydrolysis of the sugar moiety, and release reducing agents as aldehyde and thiols, both reducing apoptotic agents as peroxynitrites.

    We should better denounce the toxicity of AZT, which is one of the worst oxidative agents, and I don’t understand why it is yet prescribed, while even Pr Luc Montagnier claims that the oxidative stress is guilty for Aids.

  2. Henry H. Bauer Says:

    Great quotes from Russell, and most appropriate. Thanks!

  3. Gene Semon Says:

    Great chemistry from the trackman. One can’t say enough about the power of redox theory in explaining diseases and treatments. The importance of reducing power in the living cannot be overstated.

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