Lewis Thomas Famous Quotes & Sayings

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Top 100 Lewis Thomas Quotes

#1. Man is embedded in nature. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1144273
#2. It hurts the spirit, somehow, to read the word environments, when the plural means that there are so many alternatives there to be sorted through, as in a market, and voted on. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1311869
#3. Cats are a standing rebuke to behavioral scientists wanting to know how the minds of animals work. The mind of a cat is an unscrutable mystery. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1307797
#4. I suggest that the introductory courses in science, at all levels from grade school through college, be radically revised. Leave the fundamentals, the so-called basics, aside for a while, and concentrate the attention of all students on the things that are not known. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1295916
#5. We habitually engage in meddling with nature. Until this century most of this meddling was good. Witness the preservation of the European countryside. But since then we've smoked it up and littered it and dumped too much in too many waters. I don't think it's our privilege to behave this way. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#6. The literature has become too vast to comprehend ... It is ... difficult to grasp even for workers in closely neighboring fields ... There is much more reliance on word of mouth for the transmission of scientific data ... gossip. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#7. We are, perhaps uniquely among the earth's creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take the idea of dying, unable to sit still. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#8. If an idea cannot move on its own, pushing it doesn't help; best to let it lie there. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#9. We are spectacular splendid manifestations of life. We have language. We have affection. And finally, and perhaps best of all, we have music. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#10. Of all celestial bodies within reach or view, as far as we can see, out to the edge, the most wonderful and marvellous and mysterious is turning out to be our own planet earth. There is nothing to match it anywhere, not yet anyway. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#11. I would send the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach into outer space on the Voyager spacecraft. But that would be boasting. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#12. The central task of science is to arrive, stage by stage, at a clearer comprehension of nature, but this does not at all mean, as it is sometimes claimed to mean, a search for mastery over nature. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#13. Animals have genes for altruism, and those genes have been selected in the evolution of many creatures because of the advantage they confer for the continuing survival of the species. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#14. The greatest single achievement of nature to date was surely the invention of the molecule DNA. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#15. The oldest, easiest to swallow idea was that the earth was man's personal property, a combination of garden, zoo, bank vault, and energy source, placed at our disposal to be consumed, ornamented, or pulled apart as we wished. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1128656
#16. My father was a doctor, and I admired him and got along well with him. He took me with him on house calls. We were living in Flushing, which was then a sleepy village of 25,000 - before the subway got there. I've been sure I wanted to be a doctor since I was about 12. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1111026
#17. Our behavior toward each other is the strangest, most unpredictable, and most unaccountable of all the phenomena with which we are obliged to live. In all of nature, there is nothing so threatening to humanity as humanity itself. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#18. Science is founded on uncertainty. Each time we learn something new and surprising, the astonishment comes with the realization that we were wrong before. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#19. We are educated to be amazed by the infinite variety of life forms in nature. We are, I believe, only at the beginning of being flabbergasted by its unity. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#20. I don't think that the permanence of the individual human soul is an indispensable part of religious thought. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#21. I do not agree with this century's fashion of running down the human species as a failed try, a doomed sport. At our worst, we may be going through the early stages of adolescence, and everyone remembers what that is like. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1039910
#22. A multitude of bees can tell the time of day, calculate the geometry of the sun's position, argue about the best location for the next swarm. Bees do a lot of close observing of other bees; maybe they know what follows stinging and do it anyway. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1031714
#23. The most solid piece of scientific truth I know of is that we are profoundly ignorant about nature. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#24. Some of the shrewdest insight into natural processes have been greeted at the outset by the exclamation 'But that's ridiculous'. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#25. I can say, if I like, that social insects behave like the working parts of an immense central nervous system: the termite colony is an enormous brain on millions of legs; the individual termite is a mobile neurone. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #945655
#26. We are told that the trouble with modern man is that he has been trying to detach himself from nature ... In this scenario, Man comes on as a stupendous lethal force, and the Earth is pictured as something delicate, like rising bubbles at the surface of a country pond, or flights of fragile birds. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1627009
#27. Much of today's public anxiety about science is the apprehension that we may forever be overlooking the whole by an endless, obsessive preoccupation with the parts. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#28. The overwhelming astonishment, the queerest structure we know about so far in the whole universe, the greatest of all cosmological scientific puzzles, confounding all our efforts to comprehend it, is the earth. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#29. I don't want to be reincarnated, that's for sure. When you've had rewarding experiences in your life - a loving family, friends - you don't need additional reassurances that you're going to do something with a new cast of characters. I'd just as soon pass. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1763376
#30. I do not understand modern physics at all, but my colleagues who know a lot about the physics of very small things, like the particles in atoms, or very large things, like the universe, seem to be running into one queerness after another, from puzzle to puzzle. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1750534
#31. The earliest sensation at the onset of illness, often preceding the recognition of identifiable symptoms, is apprehension. Something has gone wrong, and a glimpse of mortality shifts somewhere deep in the mind. It is the most ancient of our fears. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1737695
#32. We can take some gratification at having come a certain distance in just a few thousand years of our existence as language users, but it should be a deeper satisfaction, even an exhilaration, to recognize that we have such a distance still to go. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1711189
#33. The gift of language is the single human trait that marks us all genetically, setting us apart from the rest of life. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1700736
#34. Altruism has always been one of biology's deep mysteries. Why should any animal, off on its own, specified and labeled by all sorts of signals as its individual self, choose to give up its life in aid of someone else? - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1694398
#35. Montaigne simply turns his mind loose and writes whatever he feels like writing. Mostly, he wants to say that reason is not a special, unique gift of human beings, marking us off from the rest of nature. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1685246
#36. It is only when you watch the dense mass of thousands of ants, crowded together around the Hill, blackening the ground, that you begin to see the whole beast, and now you observe it thinking, planning, calculating. It is an intelligence, a kind of live computer, with crawling bits for its wits. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#37. We spend our time sending messages to each other, talking and trying to listen at the same time, exchanging information. This seems to be our most urgent biological function; it is what we do with our lives. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#38. The greatest of all the accomplishments of 20th century science has been the discovery of human ignorance - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#39. I agree that you might clone some people who would look amazingly like their parental cell donors, but the odds are that they'd be almost as different as you or me, and certainly more different than any of today's identical twins. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #895399
#40. Sometimes you get a glimpse of a semicolon coming, a few lines farther on, and it is like climbing a steep path through woods and seeing a wooden bench just at a bend in the road ahead, a place where you can expect to sit for a moment, catching your breath. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1610339
#41. Survival, in the cool economics of biology, means simply the persistence of one's own genes in the generations to follow. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1602910
#42. Altruism, a jargon word for what used to be called love, is worse than weakness, it is sin, a violation of nature. Be seperate. Do not be a social animal. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1579056
#43. Well, biology today as I see it has an amiable look - quite different from the 19th-century view that the whole arrangement of nature is hostile, 'red in tooth and claw.' That came about because people misread Darwin's 'survival of the fittest.' - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1537324
#44. In the fields I know best, among the life sciences, it is required that the most expert and sophisticated minds be capable of changing course - often with a great lurch - every few years. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#45. I cannot think of a single field in biology or medicine in which we can claim genuine understanding, and it seems to me the more we learn about living creatures, especially ourselves, the stranger life becomes. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#46. Good applied science in medicine, as in physics, requires a high degree of certainty about the basic facts at hand, and especially about their meaning, and we have not yet reached this point for most of medicine. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#47. In real life, every field of science is incomplete, and most of them - whatever the record of accomplishment during the last 200 years - are still in their very earliest stages. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#48. Any species capable of producing, at this earliest, juvenile stage of its development ... the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, cannot be all bad. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#49. We need science, more and better science, not for its technology, not for leisure, not even for health or longevity, but for the hope of wisdom which our kind of culture must acquire for its survival. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1341989
#50. The future is too interesting and dangerous to be entrusted to any predictable, reliable agency. We need all the fallibility we can get. Most of all, we need to preserve the absolute unpredictability and total improbability of our connected minds. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #1336034
#51. All of today's DNA, strung through all the cells of the earth, is simply an extension and elaboration of [the] first molecule. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#52. The great thing about human language is that it prevents us from sticking to the matter at hand. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#53. We owe our lives to the sun ... How is it, then, that we feel no gratitude? - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#54. We tend to think of our selves as the only wholly unique creations in nature, but it is not so. Uniqueness is so commonplace a property of living things that there is really nothing at all unique about it. A phenomenon can't be unique and universal at the same time. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #387290
#55. Science will ... produce the data ... , but never the
full meaning. For perceiving real significance, we
shall need ... most of all the brains of poets, [and]
also those of artists, musicians, philosophers,
historians, writers in general. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #379458
#56. It is from the progeny of this parent cell that we all take our looks; we still share genes around, and the resemblance of the enzymes of grasses to those of whales is in fact a family resemblance. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #378061
#57. Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into war, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves, engage in child labour, exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#58. We are built to make mistakes, coded for error. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#59. Good science is done by being curious in general, by asking questions all around, by acknowledging the likelihood of being wrong and taking this in good humor for granted, by having a deep fondness for nature, and by being made jumpy and nervous by ignorance. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#60. We leave traces of ourselves wherever we go, on whatever we touch. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #191871
#61. It is a distortion, with something profoundly disloyal about it, to picture the human being as a teetering, fallible contraption, always needing watching and patching, always on the verge of flapping to pieces. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #189611
#62. Cats - a standing rebuke to behavioural scientists ... least human of all creatures. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #166023
#63. Things are bound to begin happening if you've got your wits about you. You create the lucky accidents. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #165570
#64. Very few recognize science as the high adventure it really is, the wildest of all explorations ever taken by human beings, the chance to glimpse things never seen before, the shrewdest maneuver for discovering how the world works. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#65. Music is the effort we make to explain to ourselves how our brains work. We listen to Bach transfixed because this is listening to a human mind. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#66. Everything here is alive thanks to the living of everything else. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#67. Once you have become permanently startled, as I am, by the realization that we are a social species, you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is, by and large, good for us. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #143536
#68. We carry stores of DNA in our nuclei that may have come in, at one time or another, from the fusion of ancestral cells and the linking of ancestral organisms in symbiosis. Our genomes are catalogues of instructions from all kinds of sources in nature, filed for all kinds of contingencies. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #129497
#69. Chemical waste products are the droppings of science. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#70. We still think of human disease as the work of an organized, modernized kind of demonology, in which the bacteria are the most visible and centrally placed of our adversaries. We assume that they must somehow relish what they do. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #119573
#71. At this early stage in our evolution, now through our infancy and into our childhood and then, with luck, our growing up, what our species needs most of all, right now, is simply a future. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #62102
#72. I will confess that I have no more sense of what goes on in the mind of mankind than I have for the mind of an ant. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#73. If we are to be destroyed we will do it ourselves by warfare with thermonuclear weaponry. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #24390
#74. The great secret of doctors, known only to their wives, but still hidden from the public, is that most things get better by themselves; most things, in fact, are better in the morning. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #14089
#75. We are a spectacular, splendid manifestation of life. We have language ... We have affection. We have genes for usefulness, and usefulness is about as close to a 'common goal' of nature as I can guess at. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#76. The dilemma of modern medicine, and the underlying central flaw in medical education and, most of all, in the training of interns, is the irresistible drive to do something, anything. It is expected by patients and too often agreed to by their doctors, in the face of ignorance. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #583406
#77. Left to ourselves, mechanistic and autonomic, we hanker for friends. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#78. It is not a simple life to be a single cell, although I have no right to say so, having been a single cell so long ago myself that I have no memory at all of that stage in my life. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#79. If we have learned anything at all in this century, it is that all new technologies will be put to use, sooner or later, for better or worse, as it is in our nature to do. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#80. We have yet to learn how to retain our humaneness when assembled in masses. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#81. I have always had a bad memory, as far back as I can remember. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#82. Most things get better by themselves. Most things, in fact, are better by morning. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#83. It's just plain learning something that you didn't know. There is a real aesthetic experience in being dumbfounded. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#84. Statistically, the probability of any one of us being here is so small that you'd think the mere fact of existing would keep us all in a contented dazzlement of surprise. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#85. We have come a long way on that old molecule DNA. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#86. If you want to use a cliche you must take full responsibility for it yourself and not try to fob it off on anon., or on society. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#87. The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#88. The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behaviour control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#89. As a people, we have become obsessed with Health. There is something fundamentally, radically unhealthy about all this. We do not seem to be seeking more exuberance in living as much as staving off failure, putting off dying. We have lost all confidence in the human body. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #6000
#90. It is my belief, based partly on personal experience but partly also arrived at by looking around at others, that childhood lasts considerably longer in the males of our species than in the females. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#91. It is in our genes to understand the universe if we can, to keep trying even if we cannot, and to be enchanted by the act of learning all the way. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#92. We are at our human finest, dancing with our minds, when there are more choices than two. Sometimes there are ten, even twenty different ways to go, all but one bound to be wrong, and the richness of the selection in such situations can lift us onto totally new ground. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #554825
#93. We have dominated and overruled nature, and from now on the earth is ours, a kitchen garden until we learn to make our own chlorophyll and float it out in the sun inside plastic mebranes. We will build Scarsdale on Mount Everest. - Author: Lewis Thomas
Lewis Thomas Quotes #538498
#94. Selfness is an essential fact of life. The thought of nonselfness, precise sameness is terrifying. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#95. Having long suspected that there was something alive in there, running the place, separate from everything else, absolutely individual and independent, we've celebrated by giving it a real name. My self. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#96. We pass thoughts around, from mind to mind, so compulsively and with such speed that the brains of mankind often appear, functionally, to be undergoing fusion. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#97. It is not so bad being ignorant if you are totally ignorant; the hard thing is knowing in some detail the reality of ignorance ... - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#98. Nature abhors a long silence. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#99. If we had better hearing, and could discern the descants of sea birds, the rhythmic tympani of schools of mollusks, or even the distant harmonics of midges hanging over meadows in the sun, the combined sound might lift us off our feet. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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#100. Doctors, dressed up in one professional costume or another, have been in busy practice since the earliest records of every culture on earth. It is hard to think of a more dependable or enduring occupation, harder still to imagine any future events leading to its extinction. - Author: Lewis Thomas
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