Comebacks to a cranks' favorite quote

There is a famous quotation that is a favorite of cranks every where attributed to Arthur Schopenhauer: "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

Never mind that Schopenhauer probably never said this--it's nonetheless a favorite of cranks such as "intelligent design" creationism advocates, and similar statements have been attributed to many others.

Here are the responses, found in a discussion thread after a post on Pharyngula:

Response #1: That's true only for truth. There is no truth in intelligent design creationism.

Response #2: Yeah, but a lot of silly nonsense also gets laughed at and violently opposed. Undergoing stages one and two does not imply one will enter stage three.

Response #3: Is it too much to ask that ID should progress into the third stage of Schopenhauerian truth before it is taught in schools?

Response #3 is my favorite of these for "intelligent design" creationism. Response #2 is my favorite all purpose response. I'll have to remember them...


  1. This is really just another version of the Galileo Gambit: they laughed at Galileo and he was right.

    I’d respond by quoting it back at them: "Many falsehoods pass through three stages. First, they are believed by the credulous. Second, they are ridiculed. Third, they are violently opposed and rejected by all as being self-evidently false."

    Or something like that.

  2. My favourite response to this type of argument is Michael Shermer's:

    "They laughed at Galileo. They also laughed at Bozo the Clown."

  3. I think the origin of the Bozo the clown comeback might have been Sagan:

  4. It's like Ockham's Razor. People love to quote it, but you know, it's just a rule of thumb from one philosopher's point of view. The people who quote this stuff have probably never taken beyond a first year philosophy class. You can refute any philosophy. That's why it's philosophy, not science, although a lot of the early philosopher's had their hand in both jars.



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