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Useful Epigrams?

October 23, 2013

In light of some recent threads in response to my posting about the role of peer-review as a key means by which scholarly claims/findings are tested, a couple of epigrams came to mind.  So, with no further comment, I give them herewith:

  • “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring;  There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.”  (Opening lines from “A little Learning,” Alexander Pope)
  • And a quip by the American comic, Jerry Seinfeld:  “Sometimes, the road less taken is less taken for a reason.”

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  1. M. Gould permalink

    How about:

    Bertrand Russell: “One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision”

    Charles Darwin: “ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”

    There is something called the Dunning–Kruger effect, summed-up nicely in Wikipedia:

    “The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

    For example, internet enthusiasts for the supposed non-existence of Jesus might well suffer from such a condition?

    • Thanks for this. I hadn’t heard of this formulation earlier. As to your final sentence, let’s not stir up an issue on which a lot of huffing and puffing went on a year or two ago on this blog site. It was all terribly unproductive.

    • Geoff Hudson permalink

      “No smoke without fire” – a blog enthusiast

  2. Geoff Hudson permalink


    I went down to London to hear what Atwill had to say last Sunday. The majority of the time was given to a long boring American film in which one speaker after another contributed at a fast pace with no possibility of anyone intervening. It was pretty awful, enduring such a one-sided approach.

    Atwill did speak in the afternoon for about an hour. As in his book, his main theme was a comparison between some New Testament texts, for example from Luke, and parallel texts from War. He showed that there was dependancy – not a knew idea.

    • Thanks for the report, Geoff. I’m not entirely surprised that it was “pretty awful”. And, yes, there are some well-known similarities twixt Acts & Josephus, and suggestions of some possible connection not new (and not assured).

      • I hate to repeat myself, but as I have written earlier, scholarship and showbusiness are not the same, although people like Atwill simply cannot tell the difference.

  3. Kathryn B Westbrook permalink

    And still they gaz’d and still the wonder grew,
    That one small head could carry all he knew.

    The Schoolmaster from Oliver Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village”

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