J.R.R. Tolkien – The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)

All that is gold does not glitter,
     Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
     Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
     A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
     The crownless again shall be king.

Bilbo’s verses for Aragorn

Douglas Adams – The Salmon of Doubt (2002)

I was in England at the time. I could tell I was in England because I was sitting in the rain under a wet blanket in a muddy field listening to some fucking orchestra in a kind of red tent playing hits from American movie soundtracks. Is there anywhere else in the world where people would do such a thing? …No. Even in Japan, where national pastimes include ripping out your own intestines with a knife, I think they would draw the line.


Charles Darwin – Autobiography (1887)

That there is much suffering in the world no one disputes. Some have attempted to explain this with reference to man by imagining that it serves for his moral improvement. But the number of men in the world is as nothing compared with that of all other sentient beings, and they often suffer greatly without any moral improvement.

(quoted in The Portable Atheist)


Carl Sagan & Ann Druyan – Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1992)

What a disturbing concept of existence: Just when you’re most in harmony with your environment, that’s when the ice you’re skating on begins to thin. What you should have been emphasizing, had you been able, is early escape from optimum adaptation–a deliberate fall from grace contrived by the well-adjusted, the elective self-humbling of the mighty. The meaning of “overspecialized” becomes clear. But this is a strategy, we well know from everyday human experience, that privileged populations are almost never willing to embrace.

Susan Cain – Quiet (2012)

A well-known study out of UC Berkeley by organizational behavior professor Philip Tetlock found that television pundits–that is, people who earn their livings by holding forth confidently on the basis of limited information–make worse predictions about political and economic trends than they would by random chance. And the very worst prognosticators tend to be the most famous and the most confident–the very ones who would be considered natural leaders in an HBS classroom.

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Neil Gaiman – The Sandman, vol. 6 (1993)

– Hold on, I thought you said it wasn’t the Emerald Heart of Koschei the Deathless. You said the old peddler woman had lied.

– Maybe I was mistaken. Maybe Baba Yaga was easily fooled. Who knows? You shouldn’t trust the storyteller; only trust the story.