Quotes by Robert Heinlein, one of my favorite SF authors, partly because I agree with so many of his views.
THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS
quotes from the novel by Robert A. Heinlein
Note the individual and subjective nature of each case. No
two are alike and there is no reason to expect them to be. Each
man or woman must find for himself or herself that occupation
in which hard work and long hours make him or her happy. Contrariwise,
if you are looking for shorter hours and longer vacations and
early retirement, you are in the wrong job. Perhaps you need to
take up bank robbing. Or geeking in a sideshow. Or even politics.
Source: Jubal Harshaw in To Sail Beyond the Sunset
Most people can't think, most of the remainder won't think,
the small fraction who do think mostly can't do it very well.
The extremely tiny fraction who think regularly, accurately, creatively,
and without self-delusion- in the long run these are the only
people who count...
S Lazarus Long in Time Enough for Love
The brown monkey's instinct to kill is correct; such men are dangerous to all monkey customs.
Rarest of all is the man who can and does reason at all times,
quickly, accurately, inclusively, despite hope or fear or bodily
distress, without egocentric bias or thalmic disturbance, with
correct memory, with clear distinction between fact, assumption,
We defined thinking as integrating data and arriving at correct answers. Look around you. Most people do that stunt just well enough to get to the corner store and back without breaking a leg. If the average man thinks at all, he does silly things like generalizing from a single datum. He uses one-valued logics. If he is exceptionally bright, he may use two-valued, 'either-or' logic to arrive at his wrong anwers. If he is hungry, hurt, or personaly interested in the answer, he can't use any sort of logic and will discard an observed fact as blithely as he will stake his life on a piece of wishful thinking. He uses the technical miracles created by superior men without wonder nor surprise, as a kitten accepts a bowl of milk. Far from aspiring to higher reasoning, he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists. He classes his own mental process as being of the same sort as the genius of an Einstein. Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.
For explanations of a universe that confuses him, he seizes
onto numerology, astrology, hysterical religions, and other fancy
ways to go crazy. Having accepted such glorified nonsense, facts
make no impression on him, even if at the cost of his own life.
Joe, one of the hardest things to believe is the abysmal depth
of human stupidity.
--- Kettle Belly Baldwin in Gulf from Assignment in Eternity
It is a bad sign when the people of a country stop identifying themselves with the country and start identifying with a group. A racial group. Or a religion. Or a language. Anything, as long as it isn't the whole population.
A very bad sign. Particularism. It was once considered a Spanish vice but any country can fall sick with it. Dominance of males over females seems to be one of the symptoms.
Before a revolution can take place, the population must loose faith in both the police and the courts.
High taxation is important and so is inflation of the currency and the ratio of the productive to those on the public payroll. But that's old hat; everybody knows that a country is on the skids when its income and outgo get out of balance and stay that way - even though there are always endless attempts to wish it way by legislation. But I started looking for little signs and what some call silly-season symptoms.
I want to mention one of the obvious symptoms: Violence. Muggings. Sniping. Arson. Bombing. Terrorism of any sort. Riots of course - but I suspect that little incidents of violence, pecking way at people day after day, damage a culture even more than riots that flare up and then die down. Oh, conscription and slavery and arbitrary compulsion of all sorts and imprisonment without bail and without speedy trial - but those things are obvious; all the histories list them.
I think you have missed the most alarming symptom of all. This one I shall tell you. But go back and search for it. Examine it. Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms as you have named... But a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than a riot.
This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying
it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health but as proof of
his/her strength. Look for it. Study it. It is too late to save
this culture - this worldwide culture, not just the freak show
here in California. Therefore we must now prepare the monasteries
for the coming Dark Age. Electronic records are too fragile; we
must again have books, of stable inks and resistant paper.
--- Friday and Dr. Baldwin in Friday
Last Modified: March, 2000Patri Friedman / email@example.com