Shoulder of Giants 

Content Index: PC127

Compiled By Scott Nesler














As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities.1 Our species needs, and deserves, a citizenry with minds wide awake and a basic understanding of how the world works.2 Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well.3 Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.4 The truth is that the want of common education … is not from our poverty, but from the want of an orderly system.5 The less wealthy people,... by the bill for a general education, would be qualified to understand their rights, to maintain them, and to exercise with intelligence their parts in self-government; and all this would be effected without the violation of a single natural right of any one individual citizen.6

We have ... arranged things so that almost no one understands science and technology. This is a prescription for disaster. We might get away with it for a while, but sooner or later this combustible mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in our faces.7 Don't let schooling interfere with … education.8 Many scientific generalizations have been discovered but have not come to the attention of what we call the educated world at large, thereafter to be incorporated tardily within the formal education processes, and even more tardily, in the ongoing political-economic affairs of everyday life.9 Education must provide the opportunities for self-fulfillment; it can at best provide a rich and challenging environment for the individual to explore, in his own way.10

What usually happens in the educational process is that the faculties are dulled, overloaded, stuffed and paralyzed so that by the time most people are mature they have lost their innate capabilities.11 It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.12 The soft-minded man always fears change. He feels security in the status quo, and he has an almost morbid fear of the new.13 Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.14 When ignorance lurks, so too do the frontiers of discovery and imagination.15 People should think things out fresh and not just accept conventional terms and the conventional way of doing things.16 The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.17 Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress.18

A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right.19 The problem is not our governance, it is that the vast majority of the citizens don't know how to play the game. Ideologies serving a minuscule point of view have figured out how to pool their resources to gain favor in the system. There is no single ideology representative of the populace. Until the whole starts intelligently collaborating towards a common good expect to continue interpreting the system as irrational. Internet technology can alter this irrational exuberance of power.20

Scott, you seem to have a technical solution to what I might call "dysfunctional divergence" of thought. Blogs encourage divergence, perhaps to the point of dysfunction. Wikis encourage convergence, else edit wars produce dysfunction. There is surely opportunity to invent in the middle ground.21 The time I trust will come, perhaps within the lives of some of us, when the outline of this science will be clearly made out and generally recognized, when its nomenclature will be fixed, and its principles form a part of elementary instruction.22 By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.23

The Do Good Gauge Summary












1 Voltaire Questions sur les miracles 1765
2 Sagan, Carl Cosmos
3 Emerson, Ralph Waldo Lectures and Biographical Sketches – Chapter Demonology – page 26
4 Roosevelt, Franklin Message for American Education Week. – September 27, 1938
5 Jefferson, Thomas Thomas Jefferson to Joseph C. Cabell, 1820. ME 15:291
6 Jefferson, Thomas Autobiography, 1821. ME 1:73
7 Sagan, Carl Cosmos
8 Twain, Mark From WikiQuote -
  • Variants: Don't let your son's/boy's schooling interfere too much with his education. I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.

  • Not directly traceable to Twain; first attributed to him in early 1900s in latter form, as in Outing: sport, adventure, travel, fiction, Volume 50, 1907, ed. Caspar Whitney, Albert Britt.

9 Fuller, Buckminster The Wellspring of Reality, Introduction Chapter
10 Chomsky, Noam Language and Freedom
11 Fuller, Buckminster  
12 Sinclair, Upton From WikiQuotes

I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked (1935), ISBN 0-520-08198-6; repr. University of California Press, 1994, p. 109.

13 King, Martin Luther  
14 Einstein, Albert  
15 Tyson, Neil deGrasse  
16 Fuller, Buckminster  
17 Einstein, Albert  
18 Gandhi, Mohandas  
19 Paine, Thomas Common Sense, Introductory Chapter – January 10, 1776
20 Nesler, Scott Facebook entry in response to his friend's libertarian point of view of government, November 25, 2009
21 Cunningham, Ward Ward is the inventor of the Wiki. His email to Scott Nesler is reference to the Do Good Gauge, August 15, 2009
22 Senior, Nassau Williams Industrial Efficiency and Social Economy, 1928. Pp. Xxiii, 375; vi, 422
23 Kazantzakis, Nikos From WikiQuotes

As quoted in Organizational Vision, Values and Mission (1993)

by Cynthia D. Scott, Dennis T. Jaffe and Glenn R. Tobe, p. 80

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It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong. Jeremy Bentham



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