Some quotes to remember


Last Updated on 2022-07-08 by Joop Beris

A lot of people say a lot of things a lot of the time. The introduction of the internet has only made this worse because now everybody who wants to have a platform, can have a platform. Thank you for visiting my platform, by the way. Most of what people say on their platform of choice is pointless, meaningless or a rehash of things somebody else has said a lot better. In this post, I want to share some quotes to remember and explain why I think that this is a memorable quote.

Quotes to remember

The following quotes to remember are quotes that inspire me or that have, in some way or another, taught me an important lesson in life. I may not agree with all of them or may fail to live up to them but they are powerful words nonetheless.


What can be asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.

— Christopher Hitchens, Author and journalist

You probably could, if you were so inclined, fill a book with quotable things that Christopher Hitchens said or wrote. He’s one of my favourite authors and has taught me a lot about disagreeing with substance and style. This quote is dear to me because it illustrates so well a pillar of critical thinking. Something isn’t true because someone said it or wrote it, be it holy books or the newspaper.


To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead.

— Thomas Paine, Political activist, philosopher, revolutionary

A wonderfully concise quote here by Thomas Paine. How often in a debate do we see one side making rational arguments, only to receive a highly emotional rebuttal? That’s not to say that one type of argument is necessarily better than the other but they serve a different purpose in a discussion. You can not debate someone who isn’t willing to listen to rational arguments.


Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.

— John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States

Conformity means sticking to societal norms, conventions, rules or laws. As such, people often see it as a good thing. But at the same time, it can mean stagnation and a denial of individuality. Usually, it’s the people who are unwilling to conform who are the catalysts of change and progress. We wouldn’t be where we are today if it weren’t for freethinkers and contrarians!

Safe spaces

A university isn’t a ‘safe space’. If you need a safe space, go home, hug your teddy and suck your thumb until ready for university.

— Richard Dawkins, Evolutionary biologist and author

A somewhat controversial quote from a man who is no stranger to controversy: evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Again, I could select many quotes from him but I like this one because it highlights my own frustration with people who are easily offended and want to be shielded from different opinion. If there’s one place where people should be exposed to different opinions, it’s in the education system. Especially in universities. If you attend university but don’t want to hear viewpoints you disagree with or because you find them offensive, you simply don’t belong there.


The power of instruction is seldom of much efficacy except in those happy dispositions where it is almost superfluous.

— Edward Gibbon, Historian and writer

Something which I learned the hard way when I was still teaching: you can’t teach people who are not motivated or not inclined to learn. On the other hand, motivated people barely need teaching at all. You point them in the right direction and they simply take it from there. Often they’ll come back with results or insights that astound you. The art of teaching is instilling and maintaining the internal motivation of the student, not stuffing him or her full of facts.

The best teachers show you where to look but don’t tell you what to see.

— Alexandra K. Trenfor, ?

A widely used quote on the internet but it’s origin is something of a mystery. The quote is attributed to an Alexandra K. Trenfor but apparently nobody knows who that is. Even Wikiquote has no idea. Regardless, the quote is another inspiration for me as a teacher and a parent. I firmly believe that educators should teach how to think but never what to think.


Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

— Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher, cultural critic and philologist

Nietzsche had an uncanny talent for writing accurate and concise aphorisms. He’s one of my favourite philosophers and I think I should do an article on his philosophy in the future. Would you like to read that? Leave me a comment below.
This is one of his lesser known aphorisms but it’s very true. Our convictions or prejudice often stand in the way of truth. We cling to our convictions because they give us grounding or a way to understand the world. But a true freethinker questions his or her own convictions even more thoroughly than the convictions of others! Every time you immediately jump to a conclusion, check if there’s not a personal conviction lurking at bottom.


I’d rather have questions that can’t be answered than answers which can’t be questioned.

— Richard Feynman, Theoretical physicist

Answers that can’t be questioned are abhorrent to a freethinker. Everything is up to questioning, to doubt and to scrutiny as far as I’m concerned. Because nothing is set in stone, that means there’s a lot of uncertainty in the mind of a freethinker. While many people may see that as a bad thing, I agree with Voltaire that we should judge a person by the questions they ask, not by the answers they give. Asking questions leads to insight, holding to dogma does not.


The only way to have a friend is to be one.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, Essayist, philosopher and abolitionist

Ideally, all relationships are two-way streets. While there can be a measure of inequality involved, the relationship between the government and those it governs for instance, this should not be the case with voluntary relationships. In voluntary relationships such as love and friendship, it matters a lot that both parties are as equally involved as possible. You can’t make a marriage work on your own and the same holds true for a friendship. The only way to have a friend is to be a friend in return. If not, it’s not a real friendship. Instead, it’s just one person taking advantage of another.

What about your quotes?

These are some of my quotes to remember. They inspire me and motivate me and sometimes give me a bit of a laugh as well. What do you think of these quotes? Did you enjoy them? What quote inspires you? Please share in the comments!

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