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quotations about facts

Facts may speak for themselves.

GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Major-General Greene, Jan. 22, 1780

Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else.


Sometimes legends make reality, and become more useful than the facts.

SALMAN RUSHDIE, Midnight's Children

We are all humiliated by the sudden discovery of a fact which has existed very comfortably and perhaps been staring at us in private while we have been making up our world entirely without it.

GEORGE ELIOT, Middlemarch

Facts by themselves can often feed the flame of madness, because sanity is a spirit.

G.K. CHESTERTON, "On the Classics," Selected Essays

History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded with doubt and controversy; the inscription molders from the tablet: the statue falls from the pedestal. Columns, arches, pyramids, what are they but heaps of sand; and their epitaphs, but characters written in the dust?


Assumptions are dangerous things. I like facts a lot better.


Facts are ventriloquist’s dummies. Sitting on a wise man’s knee they may be made to utter words of wisdom; elsewhere, they say nothing, or talk nonsense, or indulge in sheer diabolism.

ALDOUS HUXLEY, Time Must Have a Stop

The world divides into facts.

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus

It is wiser and better always to face facts, never to ignore them. Interrogate them; ask them what they mean, and what they have to teach.

REUEN THOMAS, Thoughts for the Thoughtful

Facts are carpet-tacks under the pneumatic tires of theory.

AUSTIN O'MALLEY, Keystones of Thought

A wise and honest man looks to broad facts, and forms his judgment from them; a rogue endeavours to lead your attention off the true scent, away to details, that he may puzzle and confound you with minutiae always difficult to detect, and sometimes impossible to deny, but which, nevertheless, are nothing more than stakes laid in your path to trip you up, that he may plunder you at his convenience. If, therefore, the broad facts appear suspicious, doubt, but if details be brought to aid them, be sure, that you are in the high road to be deceived.

CHARLES WILLIAM DAY, The Maxims, Experiences, and Observations of Agogos

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

JOHN ADAMS, Argument in Defense of the British Soldiers in the Boston Massacre Trials, Dec. 4, 1770

There are no facts -- only observational postulates in an endlessly regenerative hodgepodge of predictions.


Facts, therefore, have merely a potential and, as it were, subsequent value, and the only advantage of possessing them is the possibility of drawing conclusions from them; in other words, of rising to the idea, the principle, the law which governs them. Our knowledge is composed not of facts, but of the relations which facts and ideas bear to themselves and to each other; and real knowledge consists not in an acquaintance with facts, which only makes a pedant, but in the use of facts, which makes a philosopher.


Most men are less afraid of ghosts than of facts.

E. H. CHAPIN, Living Words

Facts are stupid things — stubborn things, I should say.

RONALD REAGAN, address to Republican National Convention, Aug. 15, 1988

Sometimes, fact mixed with fiction so thoroughly that, though no lies were told, it was hard to remember what was strictly true.


Basic facts tend always to be those most easily overlooked.


The totality of facts determines both what is the case, and also all that is not the case.

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN, Tractatus Logico Philosophicus

There's a world of difference between truth and facts. Facts can obscure truth.

MAYA ANGELOU, attributed, Sheroes

For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The practical man--an especial favorite in this age--often takes the field with his single fact against a great principle, in the reckless spirit of one who would not hesitate to sever the thread on which he is unable to string his own individual pearl--perhaps a false one--even though he should scatter man jewels worthy of a prince's diadem.

ARTHUR HELPS, Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd

Any fact becomes important when it's connected to another.

UMBERTO ECO, Foucault's Pendulum

Theory helps us to bear our ignorance of fact.

GEORGE SANTAYANA, The Sense of Beauty

Strong understanding ever keeps very close of facts, and leaves not the lead of one except under pilotage of another and to seek for more, that it may put many facts together till their relation one to another makes a circumference of knowledge.


The birth of a new fact is always a wonderful thing to experience. It's dualistically called a "discovery" because of the presumption that it has an existence independent of anyone's awareness of it. When it comes along, it always has, at first, a low value. Then, depending on the value-looseness of the observer and the potential quality of the fact, its value increases, either slowly or rapidly, or the value wanes and the fact disappears.

ROBERT M. PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

At some point the mind must grammaticize facts and convert them to narratives. The facts of the world do not for the most part come in narrative form. We have to do that.

CORMAC MCCARTHY, "The Kekulé Problem: Where did language come from?", Nautilus, April 20, 2017

Facts are lonely things.


A man never gets anywhere if facts and his ledgers don't square.

WILLIAM FAULKNER, The Sound and the Fury


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