Aphorisms

Kevin Langdon

 

A generalist is ignorant from the point of view of a specialist and a specialist is stupid from the point of view of a generalist.

All great stupidity is created by geniuses.

All stereotypes are true; the fact that you recognize a slur proves that it isn’t.

Anything you’re afraid is true is true.

Before most people get to the point of being able to tell their ass from a hole in the ground they’re already assholes and it’s too late.

Concentrating on something important can make you lose track of your soap opera.

Debunking the bunk is everyone’s responsibility.

Don’t ask me to pay for anyone else’s mistakes. I make enough of my own.

Even those who possess real magic must beware of being misled by “magical thinking.”

Everyone knows what shit tastes like.

Exclusive occupancy of a private room is a basic human right.

Fair compensation for genius is wealth.

God's not perfect, so it's a pretty good bet that you're not, either.

Good institutions help to overcome human moral inertia.

I am not one of your little friends.

If a dimension is anywhere it’s everywhere.

If God’s not crazy, why are you?

If one makes a promise one shouldn't have made it cannot stand against the obligation to do the right thing.

If you odn't give a certain amount of attention to filtering distractions, every distraction is a catastrophe.

If you don’t know what your duty is, your duty is to find out.

If you’re not an animal, then you must be a vegetable.

If you want to get along you have to get along with those who don't want to get along.

If you whine whenever anybody messes with your crutches you can’t claim not to be crippled.

I hate an unfair fight, so I need to be ganged up on.

Inattention is not O.K.

Injustice in your vicinity is your business—particularly your own.

It is not enough to refrain from bearing false witness against your neighbor. When he is falsely accused it is your duty to bear witness to the truth, no matter what your opinion of him generally may be.

It isn't stupidity that bothers me; it's the reign of stupidity.

I want to separate the sheep from the goats; I have no use for sheep.

I want what I want. Don’t offer me any substitutes. When there’s a problem I want a solution. Don’t offer me any half measures.

Literal-mindedness is good.

One of the biggest energy-wasting manifestations is the compulsion to begrudge energy.

One need not have a better theory to object to a theory’s defects.

One needs more energy, higher frequencies, more bandwidth, and less interference in order to sustain a finer quality of attention.

One who has authority over others is responsible for deterring them from behaving unustly toward one another and for effecting the redress of injustices when they occur.

One who is not still looking for answers is either a buddha or a damn fool.

People say that they want to be "loved for themselves" but I find that insulting. I want to do things that are worthwhile and be admired because my actions are admirable, not for foolish subjective reasons.

People think that they “make up their minds,” and they’re right, but not in the way that they think. Their choices are not their own and what they call their “mind” is a fabrication.

People won't be interested in your ideas unless you demonstrate your mastery of their ideas.

Science is like country music—those guys can't resist a clever turn of phrase.

Some of the worst warmongers are frustrated peacemakers.

Stuff that’s “over your head” is only a problem if you don’t look up.

Technology should be made idiot-proof but it should not thereby be made genius-proof.

The bullshit isn't all in one place.

The fact that there’s demand for your stuff does not mean that it’s true, beautiful, or ethical.

The heart must go out but it must not bleed.

The mind must be used to navigate through the complications of the mind.

The only animal in the forest that deserves to be hunted is the hunter.

The only real superpower is the power to pay attention.

The only thing wrong with strong epithets is their misapplication.

There’s a stupid way of thinking that would make doing the right thing contingent on whether the right thing has been done in supposedly-analogous cases. It's simply irrelevant. You should do the right thing no matter what the rest of the world does.

The sincerity of a man’s remorse is measured by whether he can refrain from taking potshots along with expressing it.

To one destined for purgatory, God says, “You try again.” To one destined for hell, He says, “I’ll try again.”

Unless he's more intelligent than himself, there's no hope for a man.

Wants should subsidize needs.

We need to expand our sense of the possible and contract our sense of the probable.

What good is it to be able to read someone else’s mind if you can’t read your own?

When a moron meets a lesson, they annihilate one another.

While there is only one human race, there are lots of human losers.

Willingness to volunteer and suitability for the job to be done are two completely different things.

You can remember that you are only if you forget who you are.

You can't answer someone who asks you to shoulder your burden of proof by asking him to prove something else.

Your thought must become more rigorous; otherwise you won’t be able to be sufficiently skeptical.


Admonitions

Abandon your ego to its fate.

Be a shit disturber—and don't stop when the shit talks back.

Be more tolerant of fools and less tolerant of knaves.

Defend your position or admit that you don’t know.

Do not decide when to laugh. Laughter is a natural impulse; don't interfere with it. Only unfunny jokes are offensive.

Do not hoard good will.

Don’t be in a hurry to “understand” other people’s experiences.

Don't get involved in a fight unless you're willing to take the trouble to ascertain who's right and wrong.

Don't be lazy in classifying files or objects. Make your "miscellaneous" category as small as possible.

Don’t take offense at being accused unless you’re innocent.

Eschew mindlessness; embrace endlessness.

Give youir children ample storage space, starting when they're born and for as long as you and they are alive, and never get rid of their stuff.

If you see where you’re going, and a way to get there more directly, go directly to your destination.

In a discussion, don't bogart the floor. Never speak longer than one or two minutes without allowing others a chance to reply.

Keep up or shut up.

Make a point of being too busy for pop culture, except to the minimal extent necessary to recognize “everybody knows” references.

Never change the name of anyone or anything unless the old name has goofy or offensive associations (Percy and Noxema, go for it ;-) ).

Never decline a request that isn’t made explicitly. A man is entitled to the dignity of not asking for something he wants.

Never placate a bully or a tyrant unless he’s got a gun to your head.

Never vocalize when you clear your throat.

Opt out of the insanity around you.

Wear clothes that fit you; it is impossible to disguise the shape of your body.

Work as hard as you can, because you won’t know whether your life preserver works until the ship sinks.


The Do's and Be's

Word hard.
Think actively.
Investigate thoroughly.
Doubt everything.
Notice interconnections.

Be clear about what you want.
Be responsible.
Be flexible.
Be patient.
Be cooperative.

On “Post-modernism”

Post-modernism is an ideology masquerading as skepticism.

Post-modernists defend themselves against their critics by making their arguments so convoluted and ambiguous that nobody can follow them.

Science is imperfect, but post-modernism brings nothing constructive to the party. In fact, it prides itself on “deconstruction,” i.e., trivializing everything but itself by labeling it as arbitrary and subjective.


On the “New Age”

New Age is old hat.

New Age maxim: What goes up will stay up indefinitely.

New Agers don’t understand Sturgeon’s Law. (“Ninety percent of everything is crud.”)
Note: Sturgeon's Law is usually misquoted, "Ninety percent of everything is crap." I met Theodore Sturgeon through science fiction fandom and when I first heard of the law around 1960 people in fandom were still quoting it correctly. I guess "crud" isn't "grown-up" enough for the folks who heard about it later.

"Random acts of kindness" are insufficient. What is required is systematic acts of kindness.

The New Age movement is a support group for liars; there’s a conspiracy not to point out one another’s bullshit.

They say there’s a New Age, and they’re right—it’s the Kali Yuga!

Wishing makes it so what.

You’re imperfect just the way you are.


On Politics

Government always has a “good reason” for withholding the worst from the public—and it’s always wrong.

How smart is too smart to put up with tyranny? Pretty damn smart.

If you have to ask for it nicely, it’s not a right.

I'm not a control freak; I'm a not-being-controlled freak.

It is demeaning to submit outwardly to unjust authority, but one sometimes has no choice. It is doubly demeaning to submit inwardly to unjust authority, and here one sometimes does have a choice; it is necessary to seize these moments.

Often it takes some shit disturbing before people wake up and see that their rights are being violated.

One of the fundamental aspects of freedom of speech is that it has to be permitted past the point where it begins to annoy others.

On Militant "Skepticism"

How can you know that someone else can't know something?

The sun goes around the earth, which is flat, and heavier-than-air flight is impossible.

You know the story of the blind men and the elephant. But one part of the story is left out. Some of the men got their hands in elephant dung and concluded that the elephant was just a nasty practical joke..

Variations on Familiar Sayings

A fool and his monkey are soon partners.

Although the truth is a pathless land a random walk is still not the best way to explore it.

Better to be a live rat than a dead captain.

Boys will be boys—but unfortunately disciplinarians will be disciplinarians.

Brevity is the soul of superficiality.

Contrary to popular opinion, absolute power is not a prerequisite for absolute corruption.

Cream rises to the top—but shit floats, too!

Do what you love and the money will come—after you’re dead.

Half an oaf is better than one.

He who loses is hesitant.

If it walks like a duck and squawks like a duck, it imprints like a duck.

If you’ve got demons, make demonade.

No wonder they didn't notice. The whole damn empire's naked!

To heck with the soup; the hard part is making the duck.

When in Rome, pretend the Romans are civilized.

Where there’s smoke sometimes there’s fire—but sometimes there’s mirrors.

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but you can't make a leather purse out of a silkworm's ear either.

 

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