Favourite Quotes

“As John Stuart Mill noted in On Liberty in 1859, calls for civility are often a tool to enforce conformity. A fierce and angry defense of the values of the dominant class might be hailed as righteous rage, but even a milder, dissenting opinion is easily labeled uncivil.”  (Greg Lukianoff 2014)

“Being civil then is a polite-sounding call to fall back in line with the normalized immiseration induced by the wealthy few. That ensures that professors self-censor or moderate their speech, teaching and writing about unequal power… Allowing university leaders and others to define the terms of what constitutes civility ignores their hypocrisy. They can engage in hate discourse and even promote epistemic violence by reframing their position as ‘being honest,’ while stymieing any and all contestation of their position as hysterical, violent or uncivil. This is why professors should not play the civility game. At a time when academic freedom and freedom of speech are under constant attack, we should all be weary and concerned about so-called calls for civility and recognize them for what they are: attempts to silence the messenger.”  (David Embrick and Johnny Williams 2018)

“I have a great deal of sympathy for people who make arguments to challenge a consensus view. The line between consensus (a valuable meeting of minds) and conventional wisdom (closed-minded groupthink) can be blurry, and in any event, one of the things that academics most assuredly should feel free to do is to make unsettling arguments. But they have to be good arguments.” (Neil Buchanan 2020)

“[M]y experience of theory has mostly been one of valuing ideas, and in particular valuing the ability to identify connections and resonances and distinguishing gaps and contradictions between models and proposals. I do not like theory when it is used as a weapon. I especially dislike theory when it is used like a silencer on a gun. I prefer to see and use theory as a frame, a magnifying glass, a key, a plow, a sail, an oar. Theory…can get you where you want to go, faster.” (Teresia Teaiwa 2014)

“A work on [evolutionary theory], placed into our hands, is apt to be experienced as a bullet – either to be dodged, or loaded and fired at unbelievers. Skim the conclusions and decide which. One is, of course, thereby safe and sound when confronted by an enemy’s projectile; and pluralism produces a surfeit of enemies. But the price of safety is impotence. [Evolutionary] thought is most likely to influence others when it forces its proponent to accept conclusions found personally distasteful. By limiting my autonomy, binding myself to conclusions I dislike, I am less dangerous to others – and, perhaps, more likely to find common ground with these others elsewhere.” (Greg Pollock 2001)

“Science progresses most rapidly by the publication of bold hypotheses that all can examine with the greatest critical acumen. A bold hypothesis refuted by later research is not a failure but an advance in knowledge.” (Will Provine 1986; describing William Castle’s scientific philosophy)

“Confusionists and superficial intellectuals move ahead while the ‘deep’ thinkers descend into the darker regions of the status quo.” (Paul Feyerabend 1975)

“I would like to see sex kept not only for our recreation but also, for a long while, let it retain its old freedom and danger, still used for its old purposes.” (Bill Hamilton 1988)

“Darwin admonished us not to ignore the ‘oddities and peculiarities’ of life as we see it today. It is by the analysis of such oddities that evolutionary history can be reconstructed.” (Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan 1988)

“Writing is hard work. It is boring and lonely. And there are too many long stretches of panic and self-hatred between the moments of inspiration. I have never been able to endure this drudgery and finish a piece that I did not care about passionately.” (Pat Califia 1988)

“Creativity requires openness and following intuition, looking at symbols and considering many perspectives, and listening and researching what other people have to say.… A second aspect of the creative process involves thinking in metaphors, that is, in symbols and images.” (Greg Cajete 2000)

“Active and fractious disagreement is a sign of health in a traditional system: it means that people are engaging their leaders and challenging them to prove the righteousness of their position. It means they are making them accountable…. In any culture deeply respectful of rationale thought, the only real political power consists of the ability to persuade.” (Taiaiake Alfred 1999)

“Knowledge is not simply information. Information amounts to little more than a collection of facts; knowledge is the result of the ability to learn and perceive. For information to become knowledge, one must do something with it.” (Rauna Kuokkanen 2007)

“Boundaries of science are drawn and redrawn. Borders are contentious, and as any scientist knows, science is not a revealed and unambiguous truth – today’s science may be tomorrow’s pseudoscience or vice versa.” (Laura Nader 1996)

“The spirit of speculation is the same as the spirit of science…[t]he only difference between them is in the subsequent process of verifying hypotheses.” (George Romanes 1892)

“Without this freedom of inquiry and speech, the duties of your professors would be irksome and humiliating; they would be dishonored in their own eyes and in the estimation of the public.” (William Lawrence 1819)

“Go to the world to enjoy, because by enjoying you will learn, and by learning you will grow and by growing you will fulfill the sacred purpose of evolution.” (Quecha tradition, re-told by Frank Bracho 2006)

“To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract.” (Jorge Luis Borges 1942)

“We see race. Never mind that race is a construction and illusion. Never mind that it does not exist in either biology or theology, though both have, from time to time, been enlisted in the cause of racism. Never mind that we can’t hear or smell it or taste it or feel it. The important thing is that we believe we can see it.” (Thomas King 2003)

“Blackness can be understood in two ways: 1) as a description of stereotypes, or 2) claiming their identity in a diaspora as a form of resistance.” (Nadeea Rahim 2021)

“Speculation is never a waste of time. It clears away the deadwood in the thickets of deduction.” (Elizabeth Peters 2000)

“Etymologically, [anarchy] just means a kind of order without hierarchy.”  (James C. Scott 2020)

“[W]henever there is chaos, it creates wonderful thinking.”
(Septima Poinsette Clark; as quoted by Cynthia Stokes Brown 1986)