Authority Quotes

Einstein said that life played him a trick, making that champion opponent of authority into an Authority.

Today I begin gathering’s many quotes and comments on authority into this file of quotes on the subject. Please distinguish throughout between authority as knowing what you’re doing, knowing what you’re talking about, and being politically elevated so you can interfer with other people’s behavior: priests, teachers, cops …

It is a mistake to believe that a science consists in nothing but conclusively proved propositions, and it is unjust to demand that it should. It is a demand only made by those who feel a craving for authority in some form and a need to replace the religious catechism by something else, even if it be a scientific one. Science in its catechism has but few apodictic precepts; it consists mainly of statements which it has developed to varying degrees of probability. The capacity to be content with these approximations to certainty and the ability to carry on constructive work despite the lack of final confirmation are actually a mark of the scientific habit of mind.


A fool placed in authority is a hazard to us all.

Owen Parry’s Abel Jones novels

Unfortunately society was not very smart or understanding; she had to protect herself from social authorities, child welfare authorities, guardianship authorities, tax authorities, police, curators, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, and bouncers, who (apart from the guys watching the door at Kvarnen, who by this time knew who she was) would never let her into the bar even though she was twenty-five. There was a whole army of people who seemed not to have anything better to do than to try to disrupt her life, and, if they were given the opportunity, to correct the way she had chosen to live it.
It did no good to cry, she had learned that early on. She had also learned that every time she tried to make someone aware of something in her life, the situation just got worse. Consequently it was up to her to solve her problems by herself, using whatever methods she deemed necessary.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Art made tongue-tied by Authority


Authorities are typically retrograde.

If God can back what he says with evidence, with reason, then he shouldn’t need “authority.”

Pilate judges Jesus in “history”; Jesus judges Pilate in “eternity.”

Authority these days is secular, democratically elected.

Hydrogen bombs to prove … authority unchallengeable.

Where experience contradicts authority, remember who’s boss

Believing that universities have authority after they squelched my best ideas for a decade, after they ignored my networking offer in 1970 but are all on-line in 2000, is like believing the Church had authority after they repressed knowledge of the Greek Bible, after they treatened Galileo.

Watch out for markets that are offered by a central authority.

Appeal to authority is so much easier than actual original research.

I oppose all factitious hierarchy, politically imposed authority, as being non-convivial, anti-human.

Authority … at odds with … experience.

In theory authority can be identified with truth and the right; in practice, authority is indistinguishable from power.

Experience doesn’t count wherever authority is enthroned.

Science and authority are antithetical, incompatible.

I’ll gather, then edit, trim.

About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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