Printer-friendly version

Quotations referenced across the site sorted by date of post (descending). Click on the (light-blue) link(s) above the quotation to view the quotation within the context of an article. Quotations without links are pending for articles yet-to-be-published. Click here for a simple alphabetical listing of quotations

The way I really taught myself to become a day trader was I would write down all my reasoning for the trades I was planning for the day. I would include all my stopgaps, all my goals for stock movement, and even my own temperament for the day. Professional Day Trader Colleague (2008). Personal Communication

The Deity does not view the human race collectively. With one glance He sees every human being separately … and sees the differences that isolate [every human being from his fellows]. …God has no need of general ideas, that is to say, He never feels the necessity of giving the same label to a considerable number of analogous objects in order to think about them more conveniently.

It is not like that with man. If a human intelligence tried to examine and judge all the particular cases … he would soon be lost in a wilderness of detail. …General ideas do not bear witness to the power of human intelligence but rather to its inadequacy, for there are no beings exactly alike in nature, no identical facts, no laws which can be applied indiscriminately in the same way to several objects at once.

General ideas have this excellent quality, that they permit human minds to pass judgment quickly on a great number of things; but … what is gained in extent is always lost in exactitude. De Tocqueville, Alexis (1869). Democracy in America (Volume 2, Part 1, Chapter 3)

My first reaction to that is: Are you kidding me? Do you really think you've been able to hold constant the other things you need to hold constant in evaluating [this question]? It just seems like an absurd claim to me... Roberts, Russ (2009). Roberts (and Hanson) on Truth and Economics (EconTalk, timestamp 14:30)

Conference Bias+

The upcoming conference on the growing threat from the Antarctica ozone hole was only a month away, and we needed the readings from our sounding balloons to support the conclusions we announced in the proceedings. Thank heavens they came in with the data we wanted. Antarctica Researcher (1986). Paraphrase of quote from researcher before the 1987 Montreal conference banning CFC's as the cause of the Ozone Hole in the Antarctica

I would go to these cocktail parties held by the CEO. All the top brass would be there as well as most of the key scientists. Inevitably one of these scientists, and they’re brilliant people you know, would start up a conversation with me about their latest work. They needed to show me that they knew more than me. If you tried to move the conversation to cocktail party talk they would immediately move you back. They were uncomfortable with other topics. They needed to show their superiority and this cocktail party discussion was their opportunity. I’m sure they left feeling much more secure in their person. DIA Pharmaceutical Industry Survey+ Participant

The path from laboratory breakthrough to commercial production remains as tortuous as ever. Willems, Paul A. (2009). The Biofuels Landscape Through the Lens of Industrial Chemistry

A … vision of [an] underlying unity illuminating nature and humankind is … [the] foundation of complexity studies. This claim for unity results from an [observation] that there are simple sets of mathematical rules that when followed by a computer give rise to extremely complicated, or rather, complex, patterns (here). The world also contains many extremely complicated patterns. Thus, in consequence it can be concluded that simple rules underlie many extremely complicated phenomena in the world. With the help of powerful computers scientists can root those rules out. Subsequently, at least some rules of complex systems could be unveiled.

Although such an approach has been criticized as being based on a seductive syllogism it appears that it still exists explicitly or implicitly in numerous works in … complexity research. Mesjasz, Czeslaw. Cracow University of Economics (Draft Version, 2009). Images of Organisation and Development of Information Society: Going into Metaphors

Cheap Heuristics+

We know the weaknesses of using portfolio analysis to make our investment decisions, but it does have the advantage of forcing reporting discipline on the project teams. DIA Pharmaceutical Industry Survey+ Participant

We worked with one of the top management-consulting firms in the industry. We set up a work environment for our bench scientists designed to encourage innovation. We set aside time and resources. We re-did the work areas. We aligned the incentives. We acquired the latest technology. We did everything possible and it failed. Miserably. It was one of my worst disappointments. DIA Pharmaceutical Industry Survey+ Participant


We had six researchers we really wanted to keep. We gave each one of them very large increases in salary, and bumps in their titles. All six left. DIA Pharmaceutical Industry Survey+ Participant