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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Everyone loves quotes

Here are a few choice bits of wisdom from Elbert Hubbard, famed American writer and extremely quotable fellow, starting with the best advice I've ever gotten: "To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing."

"Folks who never do any more than they are paid for, never get paid more than they do."

"How many a man has thrown up his hands at a time when a little more effort, a little more patience would have achieved success?"

"Many a man's reputation would not know his character if they met on the street."

"Never explain--your friends do not need it and your enemies will not believe you anyway."

"The greatest word in the English language is 'Sufficiency.'"

"Life without absorbing occupation is hell--joy consists in forgetting life."

"Our admiration is so given to dead martyrs that we have little time for living heroes."

"If you suffer, thank God! - it is a sure sign that you are alive."

"Never get married in college; it's hard to get a start if a prospective employer finds you've already made one mistake."

"Know what you want to do, hold the thought firmly, and do every day what should be done, and every sunset will see you that much nearer the goal."

"The supernatural is the natural not yet understood."

"The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."

"Victory; a matter of staying power."

"We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them."

"We work to become, not to acquire."

"The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one."


Blogger Kitty Campbell said...

"The supernatural is the natural not yet understood."

I agree with this, and it's a source of amusement every time I hear it said by a skeptic as if in argument against the existence of the supernatural. "Supernatural" is just a word - it describes a phenomenon, but it is not the phenomenon itself. Things occur which are "supernatural," and are often completely dismissed as if they didn't happen at all. That's a counterproductive approach. You can't hope to explain something you dismiss out of the fear that you won't find an explanation.

2/04/2007 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Luke McIntyre said...

But...that's pretty much exactly what the quote says.

If the supernatural - meaning things above being explained by natural law, often attributed to a god or deity - is really just something natural that we don't yet understand, then there's nothing supernatural about it. If it's explainable by natural law then there's no mystical force involved.

So far as I know, every time there's been an apparition of the Virgin Mary, a person claiming to have healing powers, a psychic claiming to contact the dead, or anyone attempting to make any tangible metaphysical claim, they have been debunked and cast aside. It doesn't have anything to with dismissing something out of fear. It has everything to do with a person who claims something to be true and isn't able to prove it simply being a person talking, not a source of supernatural wisdom.

I also like Isaac Asmiov's similar quote: "To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today."

2/05/2007 01:48:00 AM  
Blogger Joe Killian said...

This Elbert Hubbard quote was beneath my picture in my 2000 yearbook at Bristol Eastern High School:

"To avoid criticism: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing."

2/06/2007 04:47:00 PM  
Blogger Kitty Campbell said...

"So far as I know, every time there's been an apparition of the Virgin Mary, a person claiming to have healing powers, a psychic claiming to contact the dead, or anyone attempting to make any tangible metaphysical claim, they have been debunked and cast aside."

Some of the more famous and obvious ones, yes. Just because John Edwards is a fraud doesn't mean everyone who claims to be able to contact the dead is lying. Chris's boss was pretty impressed by one of our local psychics.

I know it sounds ridiculous to say, "I won't be convinced I'm wrong until you disprove every single claim of psychic abilities ever!" And that's not what I'm saying. But as far as I know, the only people who have been "debunked" are the big names who make big claims they can't back up, and who turn out to be using smoke and mirrors (or just careful editing) to make themselves look impressive. The most impressive people usually want, and get, the least attention.

2/08/2007 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Kitty Campbell said...

Also, my point about the supernatural really being natural was that the things we currently consider supernatural, and therefore false, most likely have natural explanations that we can't define yet. You demonstrated my point by immediately referring to psychics and such being "debunked," showing that you find psychic powers to be bullshit. You didn't offer a natural explanation for the phenomena - you just said those phenomena don't really occur. That's the dismissal I was talking about. An example of actually looking for the "natural" causes and truths behind "supernatural" phenomena would be the guys on Ghost Hunters. Who knows if their hypotheses about electromagnetic energy and paranormal activity are accurate? But at least they're testing them, trying to explain what they themselves have experienced instead of writing it off as hallucinations or saying "Wow, all these people who claim to see ghosts must really want attention."

(Hope I don't seem really pissy about this, it's just a subject that's important to me and which I've given a lot of thought to. I just want to be clear.)

2/08/2007 10:40:00 AM  
Blogger Kitty Campbell said...

One final comment: Edward, dammit, not Edwards. Stupid psychics and politicians having almost the same names...

2/08/2007 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Luke McIntyre said...

We're actually agreeing on this subject, I think. The only difference with what you're saying and what I'm saying is that you're saying the natural part of it hasn't been figured out yet, whereas I'm saying in most instances the natural part has been figured out and it's been proven to be nothing like what the supernatural was thought to be. You've pointed out in the past that this sort of thing isn't always something you can put in a lab and test, which is true (we're speaking very generally here, there are certain things which are easy to test and certain things that are extremely difficult). That's always going to trip up skeptics like me. But it does seem that everyone who has been willing to undergo any sort of examination, like an analysis of the ratio of hits and misses in a psychic speaking with the dead, has been proven to have little or no real skill. If anyone ever could prove scientifically that they could communicate with the dead it seems like something that would be shouted from the media's mountaintops.

I should point out that I'm a skeptic, but I don't simply cast aside everything that's considered "paranormal." I do think certain amounts of ESP are worth researching, for instance, especially since our knowledge of the intimate workings of the brain aren't all that great. Strong intuition could simply be something we haven't pegged down in science yet. The existence of a soul roaming the Earth after death though, I'm not buying it just yet.

And given a cursory knowledge of cold reading and Tarot cards leads me to be skeptical about Clarney's experience. The fact that he showed the psychic a picture of his friend, she said it didn't look like the guy she saw, and Clarney responded by thinking it really was the guy she saw just goes to show how people can remember a psychic's hits (and will stretch what is actually a hit) and forget the misses. I wasn't there, of course, and I'd certainly be willing to give it a go. Know of any good local psychics? We've all kind of been wondering why my grandfather had so much money hidden around his house, and where he got that gun from. Also, where the remote is.

2/08/2007 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger Kitty Campbell said...

I do think we're actually in agreement, for the most part.

My mom thinks very highly of Kathe Martin, the psychic Brian wrote about. She goes to her for Tarot readings fairly often. As you pointed out, the biggest downfall of psychic readings is people remembering the hits, even insisting on them, and ignoring misses. My mom bought me a long reading with Kathe for my birthday last year, and somewhere I have the reading recorded. I should listen to it and transcribe it, and see how accurate she's been so far. I actually love the idea of testing things like this, though even if it turned out her reading was 100% wrong, it wouldn't shake my belief in other things unrelated to her skill at the Tarot.

2/09/2007 10:27:00 AM  

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