The pursuit of happiness is a most ridiculous phrase: if you pursue happiness you’ll never find it.
What we need to do is to humanize the scientist and simonize the humanist.
When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion.
Two polar groups: at one pole we have the literary intellectuals, at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension.
Zeroth law: You must play the game
First law: You can’t win
Second law: You can’t break even
Third law: You can’t quit the game.
Civilization is hideously fragile… there’s not much between us and the Horrors underneath, just about a coat of varnish.
A scientist has to be neutral in his search for the truth, but he cannot be neutral as to the use of that truth when found. If you know more than other people, you have more responsibility, rather than less.
Most of the scientists I have known well have felt – just as deeply as the non-scientists I have known well – that the individual condition of each is tragic. Each of us is alone: sometimes we escape from solitariness, through love or affection or perhaps creative moments, but those triumphs of life are pools of light we make for ourselves while the edge of the road is black: each of us dies alone.
By the year 2070 we cannot say, or it would be imbecile to do so, that any man alive could understand Shakespearean experience better than Shakespeare, whereas any decent eighteen-year-old student of physics will know more physics than Newton.
A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare’s?
The only weapon we have to oppose the bad effects of technology is technology itself. There is no other. We can’t retreat into a nontechnological Eden which never existed…It is only by the rational use of technology to control and guide what technology is doing that we can keep any hopes of a social life more desireable than our own: or in fact of a social life which is not appalling to imagine.
The scientific process has two motives: one is to understand the natural world, the other is to control it.
I want a man who knows something about himself. And is appalled. And has to forgive himself to get along.
What will people of the future think of us? Will they say, as Roger Williams said of the Massachusetts Indians, that we were wolves with the minds of men? Will they think that we resigned our humanity? They will have the right.
Advertising degrades the people it appeals to; it deprives them of their will to choose.
If you pursue happiness you never find it.
No scientist or student of science, need ever read an original work of the past. As a general rule, he does not think of doing so. Rutherford was one of the greatest experimental physicists, but no nuclear scientist today would study his researches of fifty years ago. Their substance has all been infused into the common agreement, the textbooks, the contemporary papers, the living present.
The most dreadful thing of all is that many millions of people in the poor countries are going to starve to death before our eyes. We shall see them doing so upon our television sets.
Nothing is easier to avoid than publicity. If one genuinely doesn’t want it, one doesn’t get it.
Davy was the type of all the jumped-up second-raters of all time.
This ability to incorporate the past gives the sharpest diagnostic tool, if one asks whether a body of knowledge is a science or not. Do present practitioners have to go back to an original work of the past? Or has it been incorporated? … Science is cumulative, and embodies its past.
Try as I might, I could never feel any great affection for a man who so much resembled a Baked Alaska – sweet, warm and gungy on the outside, hard and cold within.
I think, on the whole that scientists make slightly better husbands and fathers than most of us, and I admire them for it.
It takes a very strong head to keep secrets for years and not go slightly mad. It isn’t wise to be advised by anyone slightly mad.
There is, of course, no complete solution. But we can do something. The chief means open to us is education There is no excuse for letting another generation be as vastly ignorant, or as devoid of understanding and sympathy, as we are ourselves.