Quote of the day—Robert Anton Wilson

Belief is the death of intelligence.

Robert Anton Wilson
[I’m reminded of Ann Landers who said, “No one has the right to destroy another person’s belief by demanding empirical evidence.”

I’d also like to remind people that those that respect everyone’s beliefs have no respect for the truth.—Joe]

8 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Robert Anton Wilson

  1. I respect other people’s practice of their beliefs, as long as they respect my attitude of not practicing their beliefs.
    I don’t believe in religion, but as long as nobody tries to force it on other people, I don’t care what anyone else believes.

    “At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.”
    – Aldous Huxley

    “The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.”
    – Sir Richard Francis Burton

    “Religion is like a penis – it’s great that you’ve got one, I’m glad you’re proud of it, but don’t wave it around in public and don’t try to force it down my throat.”
    – Unknown

  2. “…those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political ideas.”

    So a religious or political belief that says love thy neighbor, or leave others alone unless they’re violating your rights, compared to a religious or political belief that says convert, enslave or kill those who disagree with you, are exactly the same. Huxley was a moderate then– one of those who sits out the discussion and thereby believes himself superior to everyone else, purely for not having an opinion or any principles, ideas or conclusions whatsoever. But that’s just the ruse isn’t it? Under the self-superior surface, moderates have very definite opinions, but they’re too damned gutless to talk openly about them. They’re society’s passive/aggressives.

  3. This is one quote that I’m going to have to have profound disagreements with, because of my religious nature. It isn’t just that I’m a Latter-day Saint, though! I’m a worshipper–indeed, a high priest–of the only religion to have proven itself to be one.

    That religion is Mathematics, and the theorem is Godel’s. I believe with every fiber of my being that Euclidian mathematics is completely, logically consistent–but Godel went and proved that no one will ever be able to prove its logical consistency. The most we can hope for is a proof of its inconsistency.

    Belief is necessary, because we can’t prove everything–indeed, Godel proved that ultimately, we can’t prove anything–but that doesn’t mean we can’t, nor shouldn’t, compare our beliefs with those of reality. That’s why statistics are useful–yet it’s nonetheless a common pitfall to mistake statistics with reality.

    Even so, I, for one, have no qualms with attempting to destroy someone’s belief by demanding empiracal evidence–or rather, if you want me to believe, then I expect evidence for it. But no belief is going to be destroyed solely by demanding empiracal evidence!

    It has been said that it’s a myth that Science progresses when one scientist discovers a law, and then all other scientists learn and accept it. Instead, what happens is that the older scientists retire and die off, and the younger scientists don’t learn the old theories. It’s because of this that I think mortality is a good thing: it means we have to forever pass our beliefs to our children, and in the process, justify them.

    Fortunately for us, we’ve won the intellectual debate with regards to the Second Amendment: It’s an individual right, and those who exercise it have the power (demonstrated statistically) to decrease violent crime. Politically, though, we still have the fight of our lives on our hands: we need to continue to push for our freedoms, until those gun-banners who are still in denial die off, and are left with no political power. And even that is not enough: we need to make sure our children understand the philosophy, logic, value, and enjoyment of the right to keep and bear arms, and that they will pass all this on to their posterity as well.

  4. My mother used to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I think applying something similar to the wonderful varieties of religious and secular beliefs is possible, by treating the believers with respect, their beliefs with tolerance, and their practices with indifference, up to the point they want to force belief on others. Of course, my mother also always said, “Too bad they’re going straight to Hell when they die. God bless ’em.”

    Tolerance and respect worked both ways to my mother.

  5. Ann Landers ,now there is a difinitive source. Everyday americans prove that they are as stupid as i believed them to be That is NOT a good thing.

  6. I love RAW’s work, but he erred with that one. It sets two complementary things against each other to less benefit than they already provide in harness together.

    P. C. Hodgell said it better, even if her quote violates e-speak:

    “That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”

  7. Alpheus, would the concept that Science progresses when the older scientists retire and die off, and the younger scientists don’t learn the old theories be referred to as The Semmelweiss Law, since that is how the concept of hygiene in medicine came to be accepted? The old, dirty-handed doctors gradually died off and the new doctors accepted Semmelweiss’s ideas of hand-washing before examining patients, sending the numbers of new mothers dying of Puerperal Fever to near zero in the process?

  8. Windy Wilson, I remember reading the quote in a book about applying cost-benifit analysis to the medical field, and suggested that a lot of our procedures that have become commonplace should be re-evaluated. (Things like routine hysterectamies and biopsies to determine the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s when there’s no difference in treatment.)

    If I recall correctly, the quote was from a physicist, talking about physics theories, but the book itself used Semmelweiss’s example of when doctors resist life-saving discoveries, even when there’s good evidence for them.

    So, even if the concept isn’t called The Semmelweiss Law, I think it would be fitting name for it.

Comments are closed.