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When I found out that Santa Claus wasn't real, I wasn't upset; rather, I was relieved that there was a much simpler phenomenon to explain how so many children all over the world got presents on the same night! The story had been getting pretty complicated -- it was getting out of hand.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, What Do You Care What Other People Think?

We are trying to prove ourselves wrong as quickly as possible, because only in that way can we find progress.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Character of Physical Law

We can't define anything precisely. If we attempt to, we get into that paralysis of thought that comes to philosophers… one saying to the other: "you don't know what you are talking about!". The second one says: "what do you mean by talking? What do you mean by you? What do you mean by know?"

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Feynman Lectures on Physics, Vol. I, 8-2

What I cannot create, I do not understand.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, attributed, The Universe in a Nutshell

I have approximate answers and possible beliefs in different degrees of certainty about different things, but I'm not absolutely sure of anything, and of many things I don't know anything about, but I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, Horizon interview, 1981

You can recognize truth by its beauty and simplicity. When you get it right, it is obvious that it is right -- at least if you have any experience -- because usually what happens is that more comes out than goes in.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, attributed, Sympathetic Vibrations

Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so that each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Character of Physical Law

I don't know what's the matter with people: they don't learn by understanding, they learn by some other way — by rote or something. Their knowledge is so fragile!

RICHARD FEYNMAN, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman

Looking back at the worst times, it always seems that they were times in which there were people who believed with absolute faith and absolute dogmatism in something. And they were so serious in this matter that they insisted that the rest of the world agree with them. And then they would do things that were directly inconsistent with their own beliefs in order to maintain that what they said was true.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Meaning of It All

Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Character of Physical Law

I have to argue about flying saucers on the beach with people, you know. And I was interested in this: they keep arguing that it is possible. And that's true. It is possible. They do not appreciate that the problem is not to demonstrate whether it's possible or not but whether it's going on or not.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Meaning of It All

Ordinary fools are all right; you can talk to them, and try to help them out. But pompous fools -- guys who are fools and are covering it all over and impressing people as to how wonderful they are with all this hocus pocus -- THAT, I CANNOT STAND! An ordinary fool isn't a faker; an honest fool is all right. But a dishonest fool is terrible!

RICHARD FEYNMAN, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman

I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

It doesn't seem to me that this fantastically marvelous universe, this tremendous range of time and space and different kinds of animals, and all the different planets, and all these atoms with all their motions, and so on, all this complicated thing can merely be a stage so that God can watch human beings struggle for good and evil — which is the view that religion has. The stage is too big for the drama.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, attributed, Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman

Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty -- some most unsure, some nearly sure, none absolutely certain.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you're taking away from God; you don't need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven't figured that out yet; you need him for understanding those things which you don't believe the laws will explain, such as consciousness, or why you only live to a certain length of time — life and death — stuff like that. God is always associated with those things that you do not understand. Therefore I don't think that the laws can be considered to be like God because they have been figured out.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, attributed, Superstrings: A Theory of Everything

I don't know anything, but I do know that everything is interesting if you go into it deeply enough.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Pleasure of Finding Things Out

Physics is like sex: sure, it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, attributed, Mad about Physics

You can know the name of a bird in all the languages of the world, but when you're finished, you'll know absolutely nothing whatever about the bird... So let's look at the bird and see what it's doing — that's what counts. I learned very early the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Physics Teacher, Vol. 7, issue 6

The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to. ... No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, letter to Koichi Mano, Feb. 3, 1966

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, "Personal Observations on Reliability of Shuttle", Rogers' Commission Report into the Challenger Crash, June 1986

Nature has a great simplicity and, therefore, a great beauty.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, The Character of Physical Law

There is no harm in doubt and skepticism, for it is through these that new discoveries are made.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, letter to Armando Garcia Jr., December 11, 1985

The chance is high that the truth lies in the fashionable direction. But, on the off chance that it is in another direction -- a direction obvious from an unfashionable view of field theory -- who will find it? Only someone who has sacrificed himself by teaching himself quantum electrodynamics from a peculiar and unfashionable point of view; one that he may have to invent for himself.

RICHARD FEYNMAN, Nobel lecture, Dec. 11, 1965


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