I have run out of new quotes to add, as of February 9, 2011.
February 8, 2011..."William of Occam's Razor. It's a name for a principle in logic; whenever two hypotheses both cover the facts, use the simpler of the two. When a conventional scientist has to strain his orthodox theories all out of shape, 'til they resemble something thought up by Rube Goldberg, to account for un-orthodox phenomena, he's ignoring the principle of Occam's Razor...Scientists are more attached to their theories than they are to their wives and families." (Assignment in Eternity © 1953, Signet, 10th printing, page 104)
A Comment from Bob..."Next to Murphy's Laws, I find Occam's Razor very useful in everyday life (outside of the scientific community) and enjoyed Heinlein's take on it. But for me its more of a guideline than a principle but either way it usually works. By the way, I'm going to miss reading Heinlein's quotations."
February 7, 2011..."Here are some established statistical facts about genius, as shown by Armatoe's work...Geniuses are usually long lived. They are not modest, not honestly so. They have infinite capacity for taking pains. They are emotionally indifferent to accepted codes of morals--they make their own rules." (Assignment in Eternity © 1953, Signet, 10th printing, page 54)
February 6, 2011..."One can think logically in English only by extreme effort, so bad it is as a mental tool. For example, the verb 'to be' in English has twenty-one distinct meanings, every single one of which is false-to-fact." (Assignment in Eternity © 1953, Signet, 10th printing, page 53)
February 5, 2011..."For a hundred and fifty years or so democracy, or something like it, could flourish safely. The issues were such as to be settled without disaster by the votes of common men, befogged and ignorant as they were. But now, if the race is simply to stay alive, political decisions depend on real knowledge of such things as nuclear physics, planetary ecology, genetic theory, even system mechanics. They aren't up to it, Joe. With goodness and more will than they possess less than one in a thousand could stay awake over one page of nuclear physics; they can't learn what they must know." (Assignment in Eternity © 1953, Signet, 10th printing, page 48 )
February 4, 2011..."Here and there among ordinary men is a rare individual who really thinks, can and does use logic in at least one field--he's often as stupid as the rest outside his study or laboratory--but he can think, if he's not disturbed or sick or frightened. This rare individual is responsible for all the progress made by the race; the others reluctantly adopt his results." (Assignment in Eternity © 1953, Signet, 10th printing, page 46)
February 3, 2011..."We defined thinking as integrating data and arriving at correct answers. Look around you. Most people do that stunt just well enough to get to the corner store and back without breaking a leg. If the average man thinks at all, he does silly things like generalizing from a single datum...If he is hungry, hurt, or personally interested in the answer, he can't use any sort of logig and will discard an observed fact as blithely as he will stake his life on a piece of wishful thinking...Far from aspiring to higher reasoning, he is not even aware that higher reasoning exists." (Assignment in Eternity © 1953, Signet, 10th printing, page 46)
February 2, 2011..."What is man? What is the one thing he can do better than animals which is so strong a survival factor that it outweighs all the things that animals of one sort or another can do much better than he can? He can think." (Assignment in Eternity © 1953, Signet, 10th printing, page 44)
February 1, 2011..."A properly balanced sword is the most versatile weapon for close quarters ever devised. Pistols and guns are all offense, no defense; close on him fast and a man with a gun can't shoot, he has to stop you before you reach him. Close on a man carrying a blade and you'll be spitted like a roast pigeon--unless you have a blade and can use it better than he can." (Glory Road © 1963, Berkley Medallion Edition, 15th printing (1970), page 188)
January 31, 2011..."I have known many heroes and some were such oafs that one would feed them at the back door if their deeds did not claim a place at the table. I have known few men who were noble, for nobility is scarcer far than heroism. But true nobility can always be recognized...noblesse oblige is an emotion felt only by those who are noble." (Glory Road © 1963, Berkley Medallion Edition, 15th printing (1970), page 153)
January 30, 2011..."There is an old picture of a people traveling by sleigh through deep woods--pursued by wolves. Every now and then they grab one of their number and toss him to the wolves. That's conscription even if you call it selective service and pretty it up with USOs and veteran's benefits." (Glory Road © 1963, Berkley Medallion Edition, 15th printing (1970), page 13)
January 29, 2011..."More than six people cannot agree on anything, three is better--and one is perfect for a job that one can do. This is why parliamentary bodies all through history, when they accomplished anything, owed it to a few strong men who dominated the rest." (Dialogue From The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress © 1966)
January 28, 2011..."Killing is not the way to handle a spy, not when he doesn't know that you know that he is a spy...The thing to do with a spy is to let him breathe, encyst him with loyal comrades, and feed him harmless information to please his employers. These creatures will be taken into our organization." (Dialogue From The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress © 1966)
January 27, 2011..."I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do." (Dialogue From The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress © 1966)
January 26, 2011..."Under what circumstances is it moral for a group to do that which is not moral for a member of that group to do alone?" "Uh. . . that's a trick question." "It is the key question, dear Wyoming. A radical question that strikes to the root of the whole dilemma of government. Anyone who answers honestly and abides by all consequences knows where he stands--and what he will die for." (Dialogue From The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress © 1966)
January 25, 2011..."Revolutions are not won by enlisting the masses. Revolution is a science only a few are competent to practice. It depends on correct organization and, above all, on communications. Then, at the proper moment in history, they strike. Correctly organized and properly timed it is a bloodless coup. Done clumsily or prematurely and the result is civil war, mob violence, purges, terror." (From The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress © 1966)
A Comment from Bob..."Heinlein has nailed this one down again, and to prove his point: during the Nazi occupation of France, only the French police were allowed to have guns; and it was the French police who collaborated with the Nazis and helped round up Jews. To bring this up current, all the guns in all the bedrooms and gun shops across America will not start a revolution or prevent a Fascist government (in bed with big business) takeover. Our trusted police will do the round up of guns, one by one, once the 2nd Amendment is breeched. And if you were to try to organize a resistance, you would be branded a terrorist, and end up in Guantanamo. I wonder what Heinlein would have thought about all the guns Americans have?"
January 24, 2011...
"Gospodin," he said presently, "you used an odd word earlier--odd to me, I mean."
"Call me 'Mannie' now that kids are gone. What word?"
"It was when you insisted that the, uh, young lady, Tish-- that Tish must pay, too. 'Tone-stapple,' or something like it."
"Oh, 'tanstaafl.' Means--There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.' And isn't," I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, "or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless."
"An interesting philosophy."
"Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for."
(Dialogue from The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress © 1966)
January 23, 2011..."We were not a 'Lost Generation.' We were worse; we were the 'Safe Generation.' Not beatniks. The Beats were never more than a few hundred out of millions. Oh, we talked beatnik jive and dug cool sounds in stereo and disagreed with Playboy's poll of jazz musicians just as earnestly as if it mattered. We read Salinger and Kerouac and used language that shocked our parents and dressed (sometimes) in beatnik fashion. But we didn't think that bongo drums and a beard compared with money in the bank. We weren't rebels. We were as conformist as army worms. 'Security' was our unspoken watchword." (Glory Road © 1963, Berkley Medallion Edition, 15th printing (1970), page 12)
January 22, 2011..."Jamie, you put me in mind of a case I ran into in the American West. A respected citizen shot a professional gun-thrower in the back. When asked why he didn't give the other chap a chance to draw, the survivor said, 'Well, he's dead and I'm alive and that's how I wanted it to be.' Jamie, if you use sportsmanship on a known scamp, you put yourself at a terrible disadvantage.'" (Red Planet © 1949, First Ballentine Books Edition (1977), page 152)
January 21, 2011..."It is not the natural limitations of this globe that I object to; it is the pantywaist nincompoops who rule it--These ridiculous regulations offend me. That a free citizen should have to go before a committee, hand in hand, and pray for permission to bear arms--fantastic! Arm your daughter, sir, and pay no attention to petty bureaucrats." (Red Planet © 1949, First Ballentine Books Edition (1977), page 13)
January 20, 2011..."Slavery is...the most vicious habit humans fall into and the hardest to break. It starts up in every new land and it's terribly hard to root out. After a culture falls ill of it, it gets rooted in the economic system and laws, in men's habits and attitudes. You abolish it; your drive it under ground-there it lurks, ready to spring up again, in the minds of people who think it is their 'natural' right to own other people. You can't reason with them; you can kill them, but you can't change their minds." (Citizen of the Galaxy © 1957, First Ballentine Books Edition (1978), page 180)
January 19, 2011..."Customs tell a man who he is, where he belongs, what he must do. Better illogical customs than none; men cannot live together without them." (Citizen of the Galaxy © 1957, First Ballentine Books Edition (1978), pages 93-94)
January 18, 2011..."Without debating the usefulness or morality of planned parenthood, it may be verified by observation that any breed which stops its own increase gets crowded out by breeds which expand. Some human populations did so, in Terran history, and other breeds moved in and engulfed them." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 147)
January 17, 2011..."As to liberty, the heroes who signed the great document pledged themselves to buy liberty with their lives. Liberty is never unalienable; it must be redeemed regularly with the blood of patriots or it always vanishes. Of all the so called natural human rights that have ever been invented, liberty is least likely to be cheap and is never free of cost." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 96)
January 16, 2011..."Citizenship is an attitude, a state of mind, an emotional conviction that the whole is greater than the part...and that the part should be humbly proud to sacrifice itself that the whole may live." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 129)
January 15, 2011..."I do not understand objections to 'cruel and unusual punishment.' While a judge should be benevolent in purpose, his awards should cause the criminal to suffer, else there is no punishment--and pain is the basic mechanism built into us by millions of years of evolution which safeguards us by warning when something threatens our survival...Punishment must be unusual or it serves no purpose." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 92-93)
January 14, 2011..."There is an old song which asserts 'the best things in life are free.' Not true! Utterly false! This was the tragic fallacy which brought on the decadence and collapse of the democracies of the twentieth century; those noble experiments failed because the people had been led to believe that they could simply vote for whatever they wanted...and get it without toil, without sweat, without tears. Nothing of value is free. Even the breath of life is purchased at birth only through gasping effort and pain." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 76)
January 13, 2011..."Of course the Marxian definition of value is ridiculous. All the work one cares to add will not turn a mud pie into an apple tart; it remains a mud pie, value zero. By corollary, unskillful work can easily subtract value; an untalented cook can turn wholesome dough and fresh green apples, valuable already, into an inedible mess, value zero...These kitchen illustrations demolish the Marxian theory of value--the fallacy from which the entire magnificent fraud of communism derives..." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 75)
January 12, 2011..."There can be circumstances when it's just as foolish to hit an enemy city with an H-bomb as it would be to spank a baby with an ax. War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government's decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him...but to make him do what you want him to do." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 52)
January 11, 2011..."There are no dangerous weapons, there are only dangerous men. We're trying to teach you to be dangerous-to the enemy. Dangerous even without a knife. Deadly as long as you still have one hand or one foot and are still alive." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 51)
January 10, 2011..."Anyone who clings to the historically untrue-and thoroughly immoral -doctrine that 'violence never settles anything' I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and of the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler could referee, and the jury might well be the Dodo, the Great Auk, and the Passenger Pigeon. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor, and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and freedoms." (Starship Troopers © 1959, Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing (1971), page 24)
January 9, 2011..."'Luck' is a question-begging word...'Good luck' follows careful preparation; 'bad luck' comes from sloppiness." (Have Spacesuit Will Travel © 1958, 14th printing (1990), page 250)
January 8, 2011..."Pick a savage so far back in the jungle that they don't even have installment-plan buying. Say he has an I.Q. of 190 and a terrific yen to understand. Dump him into Brookhaven Atomic Laboratories. How much will he learn? With all possible help? He'll learn which corridors lead to what rooms and he'll learn that a purple trefoil means: 'Danger!' That's all. Not because he can't; remember he's a supergenious--but he needs twenty years of schooling before he can ask the right questions and understand the answers." (Have Spacesuit Will Travel © 1958, 14th printing (1990), page 182)
January 7, 2011..."Mother Very Thoughtfully Made a Jelly Sandwich Under No Protest. Could you forget that after saying it a few times? Okay, lay it out so: Mother - Mercury; Very - Venus; Thoughtfully - Terra; Made - Mars; A - Asteroids; Jelly - Jupiter; Sandwich - Saturn; Under - Uranus; No - Neptune; Protest - Pluto." (Have Spacesuit Will Travel © 1958, 14th printing (1990), page 122-123)
January 6, 2011..."Until you've been in politics you haven't been alive...It's rough and sometimes it's dirty and it's always hard work and tedious details. But it's the only sport for grownups. All other games are for kids. All of 'em." (Spoken by Dak in Double Star © 1956)
January 5, 2011..."I had made the terrible mistake of going to my father's funeral; for years thereafter when I thought of him I saw him dead in his coffin. Only very slowly did I regain the true image of him-the virile, dominant man who had reared me with a firm hand and taught me my trade." (Spoken by the Great Lorenzo in Double Star © 1956)
January 4, 2011..."A man almost always gets what he wants badly enough." (Spoken by Kip's dad in Have Spacesuit Will Travel © 1958, 14th printing (1990), page 21)
January 3, 2011..."'The show must go on.' I had always believed that and lived by it. But why must the show go on?-seeing that some shows are pretty terrible. Well, because you agreed to do it, because there is an audience out there; they have paid and each one of them is entitled to the best you can give. You owe it to them. You owe it also to stagehands and manager and producer and other members of the company-and to those who taught you your trade, and to others stretching back in history to open-air theaters and stone seats and even to storytellers squatting in a market place. Noblesse oblige. I decided that the notion could be generalized into any occupation. 'Value for value.' Building 'on the square and on the level.' The Hippocratic oath. Don't let the team down. Honest work for honest pay. Such things did not have to be proved; they were an essential part of life-true throughout eternity, true in the farthest reaches of the Galaxy." (Spoken by the Great Lorenzo in Double Star © 1956)
January 2, 2011..."Before my revered father died he made me promise him three things: first, never to mix whisky with anything but water; second, always to ignore anonymous letters; and lastly, never to talk with a stranger who refuses to give his name." (Spoken by the Great Lorenzo in Double Star © 1956)
January 1, 2011..."Our national debt will never be paid. We are beyond the point of no return. Inflation will continue and get worse...and the elderly on fixed incomes and the young adults trying to start families will continue to bear the brunt. Every congressman, every senator, knows precisely what causes inflation...but can't (won't) support the drastic reforms to stop it because it could (and probably would) cost him his job. I have no solution and only one piece of advice: Buy a wheelbarrow." (Page 544, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 31, 2010..."There are increasing pathological trends in our culture that show us headed down the chute to self-destruction. These trends do not require that we be conquered--wait a bit and we will fall into the lap of whichever power cares to occupy us." (Page 519, Expanded Universe © 1980)
A Comment from Bob..."One of Heinlein's pathological trends is giving tax cuts to the very richest Americans. We now live in a country where the bottom 40% (120 million people) own just 3/10s of 1% of the wealth. Banana republic, here we come...Happy New Year!"
December 30, 2010..."The 3-legged stool of understanding is held up by history, languages, and mathematics. Equipped with these three you can learn anything you want to learn. But if you lack any one of them you are just another ignorant peasant with dung on your boots." (Page 519, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 29, 2010..."Stockbrokers stay in business this way; their tips are no better than guesses but they are not peddling dividends; they are peddling happiness. Millions of priests and preachers have used this formula, promising eternal bliss in exchange for following, or at least giving lip service to, some short and tolerable rules, plus a variable cash fee not too steep for the customer's purse." (Page 515, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 28, 2010..."Men who go down to the sea in ships have long had another way of expressing the same moral behavior tagged by the abstract expression 'patriotism.' Spelled out in simple Anglo-Saxon words 'Patriotism' reads 'Women and children first!' And that is the moral result of realizing a self-evident biological fact: Men are expendable; women and children are not. A tribe or a nation can lose a hgh percentage of its men and still pick up the pieces and go on...as long as the women and children are saved. But if you fail to save the women and childrn, you've had it, you're done, you're through! You join tyrannosaurus rex, one more breed that bilegd its final test." (Page 467, Expanded Universe © 1980)
A Comment from Bob..."Heinlein is of course absolutely right and it has always mystified me that women and children have so often been victims throughout history including biblical times and current wars. Unless it is the corollary of "men are expendable; women and children are not" that drives the military and other power seekers to classify killing women and children as simply collateral damage. An 11th Commandment directing men to honor women and children and not as property could have helped."
December 27, 2010..."A mathematical physicist uses pencil, paper, and brain. Not my brain our yours--unless you are of the rare few with 'mathematical intuition'...Of billions living and dead perhaps a few thousand have been gifted with mathematical intuition; a few hundred have lived in circumstances permitting use of it; a smaller fraction have been mathematical physicists. Of these a few dozen have left permanent marks on physics...But without these few we would not have science." (Page 480, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 26, 2010..."Anyone who has seen the Far East--or Africa--or the Middle East--knows or certainly should know that there is no chance of abolishing war in the foreseeable future. In the past few years I have been around the world three times, traveled in most of the Communist countries, visited many of the so-called emerging countries, plus many trips to Europe and to South America; I saw nothing that cheered me as to the prospects of peace. The seeds of war are everywhere; the conflicts of interest are real and deep, and will not be abolished by pious platitudes." (Page 466, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 25, 2010..."I spent the whole long hike back to camp thinking about that amazing letter. It didn't sound in the least like anything he had ever said in class. Oh, I don't mean it contradicted anything he had told us in class; it was just entirely different in tone. Since when does a short colonel call a recruit private 'comrade'? When he was plain 'Mr. Dubois' and I was one of the kids who had to take his course he hardly seemed to see me -- except once when he got me sore by implying that I had too much money and not enough sense. (So my old man could have bought the school and given it to me for Christmas -- is that a crime? It was none of his business.)" (Page 74, Starship Troopers © 1959 -- Berkley Medallion Edition, 7th printing, December 1971)
December 24, 2010..."There is a special circle in Hell for the 'Educators' who decided that the Three R's really weren't all that important. Concerning our public schools today: Never have so many been paid so much for so little. I thank whatever gods there be that I went to school so many years ago that I had no choice but to be tightly disciplined in classes in which the teachers did not hesitate to fail and to punish. My first-grade class had 63 kids in it, one teacher, no assistant. Before the end of the second semester all 63 could read." (Page 384, Expanded Universe © 1980)
Comment from Bob..."My wife works at a Montessori School where there is one teacher for every 10 students, so I have a little different take on public school teachers than Mr. Heinlein. To me, the parents and society in general are as guilty of child endangerment as the educators are. When parents are more interested in themselves or are so less fortunate to be struggling to make ends meet, bad things quickly happen to neglected children. They can develop bad habits, bad behavior and bad attititudes because our society fills the empty needs with junk food and junk activities. Yeah, I went to a two room school with 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades on one side and 4th, 5th and 6th grades on the other side, but I wouldn't recommend it."
December 23, 2010..."The last thing to come fluttering out of Pandora's box was Hope -- without which men die. The gathering wind will not destroy everything, nor will the Age of Science change everything. Long after the first star ship leaves for parts unknown, there will still be outhouses in upstate New York, there will still be steers in Texas, and -- no doubt -- the English will still stop for tea." (Page 350, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 22, 2010..."The greatest crisis facing us is not Russia, not the Atom bomb, not corruption in government, not encroaching hunger, not the morals of the young. It is a crisis in the organization and accessibility of human knowledge. We own an enormous 'encyclopedia' -- which isn't even arranged alphabetically. Our 'file cards' are spilled on the floor, nor were they ever in order. The answers we want may be buried somewhere in the heap, but it might take a lifetime to locate two already known facts, place them side by side and derive a third fact, the one we urgently need. Call it the Crisis of the Librarian." I wish Heinlein were alive today to see what Google has become! (Page 349, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 21, 2010..."Here are things we won't get soon, if ever:
A Comment from Bob..."Just for fun, here's my take on the Heinlein quote:
December 20, 2010..."I am utterly dismayed by the political events of the past 15-20 years. At least two thirds of the globe now calls itself Marxist. Another large number of countries are military dictatorships. Another large group (including the United States) are constitutional democratic republics but so heavily tinged with socialism ("welfare state") that all of them are tottering on the brink of bankruptcy and collapse." (Page 343, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 19, 2010..."I have just heard a convincing report that the USSR has developed lasers far better than ours tha can blind our eyes-in-the-sky satellites and presumably destroy our ICBSs in flight. Stipulate that this rumor is true: It does not change my 1950 assertion one iota. Missiles tossed from the Moon to the Earth need not be H-bombs, or any sort of bomb--or even missile-shaped. All they need be is massive...because they arrive at apoproximately seven miles per second." (Page 329, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 18, 2010..."I am opposed to conscription for any reason at any time, war or peace, and have said so repeatedly in fiction, in non-fiction, from platforms and in angry sessions in think tanks. I was sworn in first in 1923, and have not been off the hook since that time. My principal pride in my family is that I know of not one in over two centuries who was drafted; they all volunteered. But the draft is involuntary servitude, immoral and uncosntitutional no matter what the Supreme Court says." (Pages 397-398, Expanded Universe © 1980)
A Comment from Bob..."I have to take exception to today's Heinlein quote because I think that having eliminated the draft for all economic levels we have created an army of soldiers with mostly poor and lower middle class backgrounds and eliminated any sense of duty to country from the rich and upper middle class non-volunteers. The guys on Wall Street who are too busy bending the country over should be in Afghanistan fighting for it."
December 17, 2010..."The lunar surface is about equal in area to Africa; a dozen men have explored an area smaller than Cape Town for a total of a few days. We will still be exploring Luna and finding new wonders there when the first interstellar explorers return from Proxima Centauri or Tau Ceti." (Page 276, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 16, 2010..."I define bravery as the capacity to choose to face danger when you are frightened by it...nine men out of ten meet the test when it's forced on them. But it takes something extra to face up to danger when it scares the crap out of you and there's an easy way to bug out." (Page 239, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 15, 2010..."It takes all nations to keep the peace, but it only takes one to start a war." (Page 215, Expanded Universe © 1980)
December 14, 2010..."At one time kings were anointed by Deity, so the problem was to see to it that Deity chose the right candidate. In this age the myth is 'the will of the people' ... but the problem changes only superficially." (Professor Bernardo de la Paz in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress © 1960)
December 13, 2010..."Washington is the prime military target on earth today for it is the center of the nervous system of the nation that now has the Bomb. It must be destroyed first, and it will be destroyed, if war ever comes. Your congressman has the most dangerous job in the world today. You may live through World War III, he can't." (Page 155, Expanded Universe © 1980)