Daniel Kahneman – Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011)

You cannot help dealing with the limited information you have as if it were all there is to know. You build the best possible story from the information available to you, and if it is a good story, you believe it. Paradoxically, it is easier to construct a coherent story when you know little, when there are fewer pieces to fit into the puzzle. Our comforting conviction that the world makes sense rests on a secure foundation: our almost unlimited ability to ignore our ignorance.


George Eliot – “Evangelical Teaching” (1855)

What is for them a state of emotion submerging the intellect is with him a formula imprisoning the intellect, depriving it of its proper function–the free search for truth–and making it the mere servant-of-all-work to a foregone conclusion. Minds fettered by this doctrine no longer inquire concerning a proposition whether it is attested by sufficient evidence, but whether it accords with Scripture; they do not search for facts, as such, but for facts that will bear out their doctrine…. It is easy to see that this mental habit blunts not only the perception of truth, but the sense of truthfulness, and that the man whose faith drives him into fallacies treads close upon the precipice of falsehood.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)


John Dewey – How We Think (1910)

When it is said, however, that thinking is impossible without language, we must recall that language includes much more than oral and written speech. Gestures, pictures, monuments, visual images, finger movements—anything consciously employed as a sign is, logically, language.

Oscar Wilde – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)

“Are you very much in love with him?” he asked.

She did not answer for some time, but stood gazing at the landscape. “I wish I knew,” she said at last.

He shook his head. “Knowledge would be fatal. It is the uncertainty that charms one. A mist makes things wonderful.”

(Lord Henry and the Duchess)


Neil Gaiman – Neverwhere (1996)

To say that Richard Mayhew was not very good at heights would be perfectly accurate, but it would fail to give the full picture. Richard hated clifftops, and high buildings: somewhere not far inside him was the fear—the stark, utter, silently screaming terror—that if he got too close to the edge, then something would take over and he would find himself walking to the edge of a clifftop and stepping off into space. It was as if he could not entirely trust himself, and that scared Richard more than the simple fear of falling ever could.

He was looking down at Richard, and still smiling; when he saw that Richard was watching him, he let go of the rungs with both his hands, and waggled his fingers at him.

Richard felt a wave of sympathetic vertigo run through him. “Bastard,” he said, under his breath,…