Quotable Quotes

“[The] basic principle of science—truth or objectivity—is essentially a moral principle, in opposition to any form of self-interest. The presuppositions of objectivity are integrity, competence and humility.” Frank Knight (via Coase)

“God is in the details,” declared the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Tradespeople building to architects’ plans would habitually grumble that “the Devil is in the details,” and Mies van der Rohe was inverting their complaint. — Reinventing the Bazaar. John McMillan

“I am trying to recommend the book. Reading it doesn’t help.” — Frasier Crane

“Writing isn’t a ritual. It is a conversation with yourself, so you just shut up and talk.” — Daniel Gilbert

“Solving a problem simply means representing it so as to make the solution transparent.” —Herb Simon

“ML is a y hat problem, not a beta hat problem” — Sendhil Mullainathan

“Inventing a new machine learning method involves proving that it works better in practice. In contrast, inventing a new regression method requires first proving it works in theory.” — Agarwal, Gans, and Goldfarb

“the more the data, the surer we fool ourselves.”
Xiao-Li Meng in Statistical Paradises and …

“In God we trust, all others bring data.”
Bill Demming in ESL

“theoretical evidence”
Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysics in a Hurry

“During the day we lived in the new place, and at night we lived at home — in our dreams.”
Voices from Chernobyl by Svetlana Alexievich

“You have dizzying change where there’s no progress.”
Peter Thiel talking about technological change over the last 20 or so years in the New Yorker.

“We’ve died on the fields of the everyday.”
An echo of Mayakovsky’s suicide note: “The boat of love ran aground on the everyday.”
Daniil Kharms in the LRB

“What we know is that, in an uncliched way, nobody knows anything.”
Philip Roth in Human Stain. A version of what Socrates said: “All I know is that I know nothing.”

“Everyone talks about football, but hardly anyone plays it. But sex – everyone is doing it, but nobody wants to talk about it.”
Egyptian gynecologist, El Feki, explains why sex is the opposite of sports in the Arab World in her book Sex and the Citadel

“Is it not strange that sheep’s guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies?”
Shakespeare in Much Ado About Nothing

“John Stuart Mill to Jon Stewart and James Madison to Madison Avenue”
James Fishkin on the progress of American Democracy

“We seem to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.”
Sir John Seeley on Britain’s conquests

“If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing poorly.”
D.K. Chesterton

“It is the mark of a truly intelligent person to be moved by statistics.”
Bertrand Russell

“…the primary risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease is age.”
NY Times, Wikipedia

“The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor”
Donald Campbell (1975)

“Facebook has monetized confirmation bias.”
Ben Thompson

“All analogies are wrong, but some are useful.”  Joshua Miller

A motto for life?

“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson