Bob Salsa's Truth Quotes Page

The nature of information depends on the nature of truth 


The Origin and Development of Truths

A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it. Planck, Max; 1858-1947; German physicist, quoted in Mossis Kline: Mathematics and the Search for Knowledge

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 idea from the beginning. Max Planck, The Philosophy of Physics (1936)

All great truths begin as blasphemies. George Bernard Shaw

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Schopenhauer

Every great scientific truth, goes through three stages. First people say conflicts with the Bible. Next they say it had been discovered before. Lastly, they say they always believed it. Louis Agassiz

Theories: Four stages of acceptance: i) this is worthless nonsense; ii) this is an interesting, but perverse, point of view; iii) this is true, but quite unimportant; iv) I always said so. (J.B.S. Haldane, Journal of Genetics #58, 1963,p.464)

The Truth Lies Deep

Truth is a gem that is found at a great depth; whilst on the surface of this world, all things are weighed by the false scale of custom. Byron

It was a saying of the ancients, "Truth lies in a well;" and to carry on this metaphor, we may justly say that logic does supply us with steps, whereby we may go down to reach the water. Dr. I. Watts

Truth is not always in a well. In fact, as regards the more important knowledge, I do believe that she is invariably superficial. The depth lies in the valleys where we seek her, and not upon the mountain-tops

where she is found. Edgar Allan Poe, The Murders in the Rue Morgue

I do not know how it is with you, but for myself I generally give up at the outset. The simplest problems which come up from day to day seem to me quite unanswerable as soon as I try to get below the surface. Justice Learned Hand

Truth, n. An ingenious compound of desirability and appearance. Discovery of truth is the sole purpose of philosophy, which is the most ancient occupation of the human mind and has a fair prospect of existing with increasing activity to the end of time. Ambrose Bierce

Ah! Don't say that you agree with me. When People agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong. Oscar Wilde

...and remember you're a Man, not just god, and for you there aren't and never will be any easy answers, only questions, and no reasons, only causes, and no meaning, only intelligence, and no destination and no kindly magic smiling down from above, and no fires to goad you from below, only Yourself and the Universe and what you make out of the interface between the two equals. Keith Laumer, Night of Delusions

Seeking, Finding, and Distinguishing the Truth

Seek and find the truth

I say this with all the emphasis of which I am capable--that there can ever be any good excuse for refusing to face the evidence in favour of something unwelcome. It is not by delusion, however exalted, that mankind can prosper, but only by unswerving courage in the pursuit of truth. Bertrand Russell

Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage. But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us- and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along. Carl Sagan

The open-minded see the truth in different things: the narrow-minded see only the differences. Anon

Seek the truth, but don't imagine that you can find it

Chase after the truth like all hell and you'll free yourself, even though you never touch its coat-tails. Clarence Darrow (1857-1938)

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. Andre Gide

Bring me into the company of those who seek the truth, and deliver me from those who have found it.

The search for truth is more precious than its possession. Albert Einstein, (1879-1955) The American Mathematical Monthly v. 100 no. 3.

What is laid down, ordered, factual is never enough to embrace the whole truth: life always spills over the rim of every cup. Boris Pasternak

Progress does not consist of replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is right. It consists of replacing a theory that is wrong with one that is more subtly wrong. Hawkin's Theory of Progress

Find the truth but not by intellect or learning

Those who seek the truth by means of intellect and learning only get further and further away from it. Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon all thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate. Huang Po

When you cease to strive to understand, then you will know without understanding. Chinese Proverb


Find the truth by eliminating everything else

When you have eliminated the impossible, what ever remains, however improbable must be the truth. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) The Sign of Four.

Truth, like gold, is to be obtained not by its growth, but by washing away from it all that is not gold. Tolstoy

Recognize the truth

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. Einstein

The open-minded see the truth in different things: the narrow-minded see only the differences. Unknown

A thing is not necessarily true because badly uttered, nor false because spoken magnificently. St. Augustine

I concluded that I might take as a general rule the principle that all things which we very clearly and obviously conceive are true: only observing, however, that there is some difficulty in rightly determining the objects which we distinctly conceive. Rene Descartes, (1596-1650) Discours de la Méthode. 1637.

I thought the following four [rules] would be enough, provided that I made a firm and constant resolution not to fail even once in the observance of them. The first was never to accept anything as true if I had not evident knowledge of its being so; that is, carefully to avoid precipitancy and prejudice, and to embrace in my judgment only what presented itself to my mind so clearly and distinctly that I had no occasion to doubt it. The second, to divide each problem I examined into as many parts as was feasible, and as was requisite for its better solution. The third, to direct my thoughts in an orderly way; beginning with the simplest objects, those most apt to be known, and ascending little by little, in steps as it were, to the knowledge of the most complex; and establishing an order in thought even when the objects had no natural priority one to another. And the last, to make throughout such complete enumerations and such general surveys that I might be sure of leaving nothing out. These long chains of perfectly simple and easy reasonings by means of which geometers are accustomed to carry out their most difficult demonstrations had led me to fancy that everything that can fall under human knowledge forms a similar sequence; and that so long as we avoid accepting as true what is not so, and always preserve the right order of deduction of one thing from another, there can be nothing too remote to be reached in the end, or to well hidden to be discovered. Rene Descartes, (1596-1650) Discours de la Méthode. 1637.

I'm too tired to distinguish truth from reality. Ken Herrity

Stumble over the truth, and ignore it

The true way goes over a rope which is not stretched at any great height but just above the ground. It seems more designed to make men stumble than to be walked upon. Franz Kafka

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. Winston Churchill will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on. Winston S. Churchill, quoted in: Irving Klotz, Bending perception, a book review, Nature, 1996, Volume 379, p 412 (1).

It is a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, 'Go away, I'm looking for the truth.' and so it goes away. Puzzling. Robert M. Pirsig

Truth and dying men

Truth sits upon the lips of dying men. Matthew Arnold

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it. Oscar Wilde


The truth is not always the same as the majority decision. Pope Jean Paul

What I tell you three times is true. Lewis Carroll, The Hunting of the Snark.

There is only one way to find out if a man is honest--ask him. If he says 'yes', you know he is crooked. Groucho Marx

Well, if you can't believe what you read in a comic book, what can you believe?! Bullwinkle J. Moose [Jay Ward]

Live truth instead of professing it. Elbert Hubbard

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors. Thomas Huxley

Truths and Their Opposites

One of the favorite maxims of my father was the distinction between the two sorts of truths, profound truths recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth, in contrast to trivialities where opposites are obviously absurd. Neils Bohr

A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a great truth. Thomas Mann, (1875-1955) Essay on Freud. 1937.

The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth. Niels Bohr

If the converse of a statement is absurd, the original statement is an insult to the intelligence and should never have been said. Arthur H. Boultbee

Opposites are not contradictory but complementary. Niels Bohr

To know one thing, you must know its opposite just as much, else you don't know that one thing." Henry Moore

All extremes are error. The reverse of error is not truth, but error still. Truth lies between extremes. Cecil

On a paper submitted by a physicist colleague: "This isn't right. This isn't even wrong." Wolfgang Pauli

. . is to attempt seeing Truth without knowing Falsehood. It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be. Frank Herbert, Dune

America is so vast that almost everything said about it is likely to be true; and the opposite is probably equally true. James T. Farrell, "Introduction" to Prejudices: A Selection by H.L. Mencken

All err the more dangerously because each follows a truth. Their mistake lies not in following a falsehood but in not following another truth. Blaise Pascal, (1623-1662) W. H. Auden and L. Kronenberger (eds.) The Viking Book of Aphorisms, New York: Viking Press, 1966.

Absolute Truth

Truth is one forever absolute, but opinion is truth filtered through the moods, the blood, the disposition of the spectator. Wendell Phillips 1811-1884, Idols [October 4, 1859]

Truth is by its very nature intolerant, exclusive, for every truth is the denial of its opposing error. Luthhard

Nothing that was worthy in the past departs; no truth or goodness realized by man ever dies, or can die. Thomas Carlyle

The truth is a tool to be used in helping others climb closer to God, not a weapon to be used in attacking them. RD Clyde

The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it. Flannery O'Connor

Relative Truth

There are no eternal facts as there are no absolute truths. Nietzsche

As you believe, so it is for you. Richard Bach

Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor. Robert Frost

(With reference to a correspondent) The young specialist in English Lit, ...lectured me severely on the fact that in every century people have thought they understood the Universe at last, and in every century they were proved to be wrong. It follows that the one thing we can say about our modern "knowledge" is that it is wrong. ... My answer to him was, "... when people thought the Earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the Earth was spherical they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the Earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the Earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together." Isaac Asimov,The Relativity of Wrong, Kensington Books, New York, 1996, p 226.

On the Importance of Truth

There is nothing so strong or safe in an emergency of life as the simple truth. Charles Dickens

Truth has always been found to promote the best interests of mankind... -Percy Bysshe Shelley

There is a fundamental conviction which some people never acquire, some hold only in their youth, and a few hold to the end of their days-- the conviction that IDEAS MATTER. In one's youth that conviction is experienced as a self-evident absolute, and one is unable fully to believe that there are people who do not share it. That ideas matter means that knowledge matters, that truth matters, that one's mind matters. And the radiance of that certainty, in the process of growing up, is the best aspect of youth. Ayn Rand

Truth has no special time of its own. Its hour is now -- always. Albert Schweitzer

If you tell the truth, you have infinite power supporting you; but if not, you have infinite power against you. Charles Gordon

Apart from blunt truth, our lives sink decadently amid the perfume of hints and suggestions. Alfred North Whitehead, W.H. Auden and L. Kronenberger The Viking Book of Aphorisms, New York: Viking Press, 1966.

Truth ... and if mine eyes
Can bear its blaze, and trace its symmetries,
Measure its distance, and its advent wait,
I am no prophet -- I but calculate.
Charles Mackay, (1814-1889) The Poetical Works of Charles Mackay. 1876.

The heart should be fed upon the truth, as insects on a leaf, till it be tinged with the color, and show its
food in every minutest fibre. Samuel Taylor Coleridge

On The Love of Truth

Those who know the truth are not equal to those who love it. Confucius

Defending the truth is not something one does out of a sense of duty or to allay guilt complexes, but is a reward in itself. Peter Bechmann

Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so you apologize for truth. Benjamin Disraeli

The man who boasts that he habitually tells the truth is simply a man with no respect for it. It is not a thing to be thrown about loosely, like small change; it is something to be cherished and hoarded and disbursed only when absolutely necessary. The smallest atom of truth represents some man's bitter toil and agony; for every ponderable chunk of it there is a brave truth-seeker's grave upon some lonely ash-dump and a soul roasting in Hell. H. L. Mencken, from Prejudices: Third Series

Nothing is too wonderful to be true. Michael Faraday

The greatest homage to truth is to use it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whenever you have truth it must be given with love, or the message and the messenger will be rejected. Ghandi

Truth has not special time of its own. Its hour is now - always and indeed then most truly when it seems unsuitable to actual circumstances. Albert Schweitzer

Be True to Yourself

If you do not tell the truth about yourself you cannot tell it about other people. Virginia Woolf

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. William Shakespeare

Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise. Sigmund Freud

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask and he will tell the truth. Oscar Wilde

In great matters men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small matters, as they are. Gamaliel Bradford

Truth and Beauty

Beauty is truth, truth beauty,--that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. John Keats , Ode on a Grecian Urn

The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all our lives. Albert Einstein

Truth and Character

There are times that when truth and kindness conflict one ought to chose kindness, especially when a little honesty is better than a lot. Leroy Jack Syrop

True friendship can afford true knowledge. It does not depend on darkness and ignorance. Henry David Thoreau

Truth lies in character. Christ did not simply speak the truth; He was truth; truth, through and through; for truth is a thing not of words but of life and being. Robertson

We arrive at truth, not by reason only, but also by the heart. Blaise Pascal, (1623-1662) Pensees. 1670.

It is astonishing what force, purity, and wisdom it requires for a human being to keep clear of falsehoods. Margaret Fuller

Humility is never false; if anything, it is truth at it's most basic level -- truth without an agenda. RD Clyde

Truth and Authority

Fear is not in the habit of speaking truth. When perfect sincerity is expected, perfect freedom must be allowed; nor has anyone who is apt to be angry when he hears the truth, any cause to wonder that he does not hear it. Tacitus

Free and fair discussion will ever by found the firmest friend to truth. George Campbell

Beware the dreamers of the day! ...Martin Luther King, Henry David Thoreau, Mahatma Gandhi. ... They speak "Truth to Power." Studs Terkel , American Dreams: Lost and Found

I am very fond of truth, but not at all of martyrdom. Voltaire

Pretty much all the honest truth telling there is in the world today is done by children. Oliver W. Holmes

Sacred cows make the best hamburger. Mark Twain

Truth can be a dangerous thing. It is quite patient and relentless. R. Scott Richards

If you want to get the plain truth, Be not concerned with right and wrong. The conflict between right and wrong Is the sickness of the mind." Seng-Ts'an

If a thing is done wrong often enough, it becomes right. Richard A. Leahy

You wake me up early in the morning to tell me I am right? Please wait until I am wrong." John von Neumann, on being phoned at 10 a.m.

Truth and Government

The people have a right to the truth as they have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Frank Norris

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. Voltaire

It is fatal to be right when the rest of the world is wrong. Brother Theodore

For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate error so long as reason is free to combat it. Thomas Jefferson

There can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. George Jacob Holyoake

On Fable, Myth, Fiction

Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men. G.K. Chesterton

Fiction is the truth inside the lie. Stephen King

A thing can be true and still be desperate folly. Richard Adams, Watership Down

Anyone who says businessmen deal in facts, not fiction, has never read old five-year projections. Malcom Forbes

More About the Truth

It takes two to speak truth - One to speak, and another to hear. Henry David Thoreau

Man does not need the mortar of truth to seal the prison of his fears. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne

Cynicism is an unpleasant way of saying the truth. Lillian Hellman

If you have not lived through something, it is not true. Kabir fifteenth-century Sufi poet, quoted by Philip K. Dick in "Introduction to The Golden Man" (1980)

Live truth instead of professing it. Elbert Hubbard

I wonder if you ever change human beings with arguments alone: either by peppering them with sharp facts or by blowing them up with great guns of truth. You scare them, but do you change them? I wonder if you ever make any real difference in human beings without understanding them and loving them. For when you argue with a man (how much more with a woman) you are somehow trying to pull him down and make him less (and yourself more); but when you try to understand him, when you like him, how eager is he then to know the truth you have?... There is nothing in the world that people so much thrive upon, grow fine and rosy and robust upon... as being loved. David Grayson



Everybody lies, but it doesn't matter because nobody listens. Nick Diamos

A lie can travel half-way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. Mark Twain

A lie can run around the world before the truth can get it's boots on. James Watt

A lie has speed, but truth has endurance. Edgar J. Mohn

A lie should be trampled on and extinguished wherever found. I am for fumigating the atmosphere, when I suspect that falsehood, like pestilence, breathes around me. Carlyle

All men can be lead to believe the lie they want to believe. Italo Bombolini

An excuse is worse and more terrible than a lie; for an excuse is a lie guarded. Alexander Pope

If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it. Marcus Aurelius

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics. Benjamin Disraeli, statesman

It is always the best policy to tell the truth, unless, of course, you are an exceptionally good liar. Jerome K Jerome

He who tells a lie is not sensible how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one. Alexander Pope

A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way. John Tudor

I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false is guilty of falsehood, and the accidental truth of the assertion does not justify or excuse him. Abraham Lincoln

One often makes a remark and only later sees how true it is. Ludwig Wittgenstein

The most dangerous of all falsehoods is a slightly distorted truth. G. C. Lichtenberg (1742-1 799)

When a Russian citizen was interviewed, following the death of Chernenko, he began by saying, ``As one of your writers said, `There are three kinds of lie: a small lie, a big lie and politics.''' Time, March 23, 1985, p. 21.

On the remark ``There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'' ``In his autobiography, Mark Twain attributed the remark . . . to Disraeli. . . . [It] has also been attributed to Henry Labouch\`ere, Abraham Hewitt, and others. No one other than Twain is known to have credited Disraeli with making the comment. British statistician John Bibby once appealed to his colleagues for a reliable source of the saying. The best anyone could come up with was this 1896 comment by a member of the Royal Statistical Society: ``We may quote to one another with a chuckle the words of the Wise Statesman, lies, damned lies, statistics...'' After consulting a Disraeli biographer, Bibby concluded that he probably wasn't this Wise Statesman. Bibby is still trying to determine who was.''

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. H. L. Mencken

To Lie with the Truth

Often, the surest way to convey misinformation is to tell the strict truth. Mark Twain

A Truth that's told with bad intent Beats all the Lies you can invent William Blake-Auguries of Innocence, 53

Every truth is true only up to a point. Beyond that, by way of counter-point, it becomes untruth. Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

Truth does not consist in minute accuracy of detail, but in conveying a right impression; and there are vague ways of speaking that are truer than strict facts would be. When the Psalmist said, "Rivers of water run down mine eyes because men keep not thy law," he did not state the fact, but he stated a truth deeper than fact, and truer. Alford

What is the difference between unethical and ethical advertising? Unethical advertising uses falsehoods to deceive the public; ethical advertising uses truth to deceive the public. Vilhjalmur Stefansson

Enemies of Truth. Convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. Friedrich Nietzsche (Human-all-too-Human, 483).

Truthfulness so often goes with ruthlessness. Truthfulness so often goes with ruthlessness.


Honesty is the best policy; but he who is governed by that maxim is not an honest man. Richard Whately, Archbishop of Dublin

The feeble minded are people who know the truth, but only affirm it as consistent with their own interests. Apart from that, they denounce it. Pascal

The lawyer's truth is not Truth, but consistency or a consistent expediency. Thoreau, Henry David

Truthful, adj.: Dumb and illiterate. Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

We Don't Want to Hear the Truth, It's Unpleasant

We lie about the truth, that's what ruins us here. And do you know why we lie about the truth? Not because we like to, but because we are scared to death of it. If we looked the truth in the eye nine out of ten of us would run to the graveyard and demand to be buried at once. Babbaluche the cobbler

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

Man has always sacrificed truth to his vanity, comfort and advantage. He lives by make-believe. W. Somerset Maugham, The Summing Up, 1938

I never gave them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it is hell. Harry S. Truman quoted in Look magazine

As scarce as truth is, the supply invariably exceeds the demand.

Truth, like the sun, submits to be obscured, but, like the sun, only for a time. Christian N. Bovee

"What does it matter? Science has achieved some wonderful things, of course, but I'd far rather be happy than right any day." "And are you?" "No. That's where it all fall down, of course." Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Superstition, idolatry and hypocrisy have ample wages, but the truth goes begging. Martin Luther

Every one wishes to have truth on his side, but it is not every one that sincerely wishes to be on the side of truth. Whately

On Suppressing the Truth

All truth is safe and nothing else is safe, but he who keeps back truth, or withholds it from men, from motives of expediency, is either a coward or a criminal. Max Fuller

Most truths are so naked that people feel sorry for them and cover them up, at least a little bit. Hellmut Walters

O what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive. Sir Walter Scott

He who conceals a useful truth is equally guilty with the propagator of an injurious falsehood. Augustine

The truth that is suppressed by friends is the readiest weapon of the enemy. Robert Louis Stevenson

Have patience awhile; slanders are not long-lived. Truth is the child of time; ere long she shall appear to vindicate thee. Immanuel Kant

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