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date: 18 January 2020


  1. Of course, Behaviourism ‘works’. So does torture. Give me a no-nonsense, down-to-earth behaviourist, a few drugs, and simple electrical appliances, and in six months I will have him reciting the Athanasian Creed in public.
    W. H. Auden 1907–73 English poet: A Certain World (1970)
  2. For what a man would like to be true, that he more readily believes.
    Francis Bacon 1561–1626 English lawyer, courtier, philosopher, and essayist: Novum Organum (1620) bk. 1, Aphorism 49 (tr. J. Spedding);see Caesar, Demosthenes
  3. Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.
    The Bible (Authorized Version, 1611): St Mark ch. 9, v. 24
  4. Of course not, but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it.
    when asked whether he really believed a horseshoe hanging over his door would bring him luck, c.1930
    Niels Bohr 1885–1962 Danish physicist: A. Pais Inward Bound (1986)
  5. Just when we are safest, there's a sunset-touch,
    A fancy from a flower-bell, some one's death,
    A chorus-ending from Euripides,—
    And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears
    As old and new at once as nature's self…
    The grand Perhaps!
    Robert Browning 1812–89 English poet: ‘Bishop Blougram's Apology’ (1855) l. 182
  6. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
    Lewis Carroll 1832–98 English writer and logician: Through the Looking-Glass (1872) ch. 5
  7. It is wrong, always, everywhere and for any one, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
    William Clifford 1845–79 English mathematician and philosopher: ‘The Ethics of Belief’, lecture, 1879
  8. plato told
    him: he couldn't
    believe it (jesus
    told him; he
    wouldn't believe
    e. e. cummings (Edward Estlin Cummings) 1894–1962 American poet: 1 x 1 (1944) no. 13
  9. I do not pretend to know where many ignorant men are sure—that is all that agnosticism means.
    Clarence Darrow 1857–1938 American lawyer: speech at the trial of John Thomas Scopes for teaching Darwin's theory of evolution in school, 15 July 1925
  10. I, the man without a rag of a label to cover himself with…took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of ‘agnostic’.
    T. H. Huxley 1825–95 English biologist: Collected Essays (1893–4) ‘Agnosticism’
  11. The deepest sin against the human mind is to believe things without evidence.
    T. H. Huxley 1825–95 English biologist: attributed
  12. A believer is a songless bird in a cage, a freethinker is an eagle parting the clouds with tireless wings.
    Robert G. Ingersoll 1833–99 American agnostic: An Arraignment of the Church, and a Plea for Individuality (1877)
  13. I do not believe…I know.
    Carl Gustav Jung 1875–1961 Swiss psychologist: L. van der Post Jung and the Story of our Time (1976)
  14. Credulity is the man's weakness, but the child's strength.
    Charles Lamb 1775–1834 English writer: Essays of Elia (1823) ‘Witches, and Other Night-Fears’
  15. There is a great deal of difference between still believing something, and again believing it.
    Georg Christoph Lichtenberg 1742–99 German scientist and drama critic: Notebook E no. 8 1775–6
  16. Nothing is so firmly believed as that which we least know.
    Montaigne 1533–92 French moralist and essayist: Essays (1580, ed. M. Rat, 1958) bk. 1, ch. 32
  17. We can believe what we choose. We are answerable for what we choose to believe.
    John Henry Newman 1801–90 English theologian and leader of the Oxford Movement; later Cardinal: letter to Mrs William Froude, 27 June 1848
  18. It is necessary to the happiness of man that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving, it consists in professing to believe what one does not believe.
    Thomas Paine 1737–1809 English political theorist: The Age of Reason pt. 1 (1794)
  19. The sceptical are the most credulous.
    Blaise Pascal 1623–62 French mathematician, physicist, and moralist: Penseés (1670) no. 257
  20. Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day.
    Bertrand Russell 1872–1970 British philosopher and mathematician: Sceptical Essays (1928) ‘Dreams and Facts’
  21. 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 1872–1970 British philosopher and mathematician: Unpopular Essays (1950) ‘An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish’
  22. I confused things with their names: that is belief.
    Jean-Paul Sartre 1905–80 French philosopher, novelist, dramatist, and critic: Les Mots (1964) ‘Écrire’
  23. Certum est quia impossibile est.
    It is certain because it is impossible.
    often quoted as ‘Credo quia impossibile [I believe because it is impossible]’
    Tertullian 160–c.225 Roman theologian and Church Father from Carthage: De Carne Christi ch. 5