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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

I would rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers that can’t be questioned.

– Richard Feynman

12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Feynman was one of the most interesting physicists ever. Not only was he a safecracker, he played a mean frying pan. Among a myriad of things, including being a font of wise sayings.

  • Rudolph Hucker


    Feynman had one of the beautiful and insightful minds I’ve ever encountered. A small but wonderful taste of it can be found in a short video where he explains how trees are made of sunlight and CO2. With a great weight on evidence not theory.




  • The OP quote is one for all time – but particularly needed at this present time.

    Here is another Feynman quote of which the same is true:

    Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.

    The second buttresses the first. The ignorance of the experts is reason enough why free speech must apply even to answers from experts. And vice versa – experts who think their answers must not be questioned may be experts on how the science bureaucracy works but are very ignorant of how science works.

  • Mark

    “experts on how the science bureaucracy works but are very ignorant of how science works”

    Yes, key point. Bit like “Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.” Or in this case dictate.

  • Snorri Godhi

    On re-reading Feynman’s Surely You Are Joking, shortly before ‘covid’ became a household word, I realized how un-PC (now: un-woke) it is. Almost as much as Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew 🙂 which however goes a bit too far in my opinion.

    (I had read Feynman’s book when it first came out, but at the time i did not even know what ‘PC’ means iirc.)

  • Peter MacFarlane

    My favourite Feynman quote: “It doesn’t matter how important you are, or how elegant your theory is – if it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong”.

    Present-day applications will occur to the reader, no doubt.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Present-day applications will occur to the reader, no doubt.

    But everyone wearing masks make me feel saffeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!


  • Rudolph Hucker

    And one Feynman quote that might have been especially for the SAGE Nudge Unit…

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

    But do I fear they would have taken that as an instruction.

  • Paul Marks

    These days Richard Feynman would not be allowed in a university – unless it was to clean the toilets.

    All subjects, including the physical sciences (for example the “Climate Change Emergency”) have “correct” answers – and if anyone questions those answers, then they are punished. There is no real discussion of evidence and ideas – just savage attacks and punishment.

    As soon as a young student version of Richard Feynman started to question things (for example if a man really could have a baby) he would be attacked and punished – he would either learn NOT to question things, or would be forced out of university.

    “But what if he was a famous academic?”

    That would not help him, not at all. As soon as he (for example) made a “racist” statement – he would be “cancelled”.

    We used to live in a fairly free society (far from perfect – but with a good measure of Freedom of Speech) we NO LONGER DO.

    Such things as science can not flourish in modern “Woke” (Frankfurt School Marxist) society – and so are dying.

  • RNB

    Compare and contrast:

    “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.” — Richard Feynman


    “The strain of [American] anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge’.” — Issac Asimov

  • Compare and contrast: (RNB, February 26, 2022 at 2:44 pm)

    Compare and contrast the genuine nobel-quality scientist with the fan of science.

    (Full disclosure: when I was in primary school, I read Asimov’s SF pretty well as avidly as Heinlein’s, though I could sense even then a certain rigidity of mind about how societies and cultures work in Asimov versus Heinlein.)

  • Rudolph Hucker

    Here’s an even better version of Feynman’s “Trees Come Out Of the Air”


    Or trees are made of sunlight.