On How a Little Certain Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”
-Mark Twain

The more tenaciously a thought is held, the more irrational it becomes. But it ain’t necessarily  so.

On Conspiracy Theories

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, most of them never happened.”
– Mark Twain

Beware the boogie man in the dark corner, for he just may not exist.

On Learning to Live With Yourself – and Others

“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”
-Mark Twain

A man that can walk through life unburdened by the vicissitudes of others, accept his own shortcomings, and strive always to improve himself, warts and all, is an easy person to be around – for himself and others.

On Telling the Truth

“A man is never more truthful than when he acknowledges himself a liar.”
-Mark Twain

We are all sinners, liars, and cheats. Admitting it is the only hope we have that we’ll not always be sinners, liars, and cheats.

On Finding a True Wealth of Knowledge

“I would rather have my ignorance than another man’s knowledge, because I have got so much more of it.”
-Mark Twain

All we can be sure of is our own ignorance – knowing that we don’t know. An abundance of known ignorance is better than a paucity of knowledge.

On Reality and Having an Active Inner Life

“Life does not consist mainly – or even largely – of facts and happenings. It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that is forever blowing through one’s head”
-Mark Twain

Still waters run deep. The life of the mind is life itself.

On the Transience of Fame and the Myth of Glory

“It is a pathetic thought. We struggle, we rise, we tower in the zenith a brief and gorgeous moment, with the adoring eyes of the nations upon us, then the lights go out, oblivion closes around us, our glory fades and vanishes, a few generations drift by, and naught remains but a mystery and a name.”
-Mark Twain

What does it really mean, when we pass into inevitable oblivion, to possess fame or claim glory?  Fame vanishes and glory dies in the press of our own ego.

It is nothing but what we leave behind that is important in the end. Best to consider what that might be while it is still in our power, lest we be caught with nothing at all to show for it

On Justice and Trial by Jury

“The humorist who invented trial by jury played a colossal practical joke upon the world, but since we have the system we ought to try and respect it. A thing which is not thoroughly easy to do, when we reflect that by command of the law a criminal juror must be an intellectual vacuum, attached to a melting heart and perfectly macaronian bowels of compassion.”
-Mark Twain, New York Tribune, March 1873

That it must be some enormous practical joke is never more obvious than for the juror, sitting amongst eleven strangers – suddenly compatriots in judgement – charged with directing how a blindfolded Lady Justice is to play her hand. It gives reason to doubt that justice is even possible.

But it is in the deliberation room where the inadequacy of trial by jury really sinks in. Just as it also dawns that it is best means of justice yet devised – no matter how flawed.

On Town Hall Meetings

“The thug is aware that loudness convinces sixty persons where reasoning convinces but one.
-Mark Twain

But those sixty people are convinced of an argument upon which there is no basis in reason – the thug makes a fool of his followers and a mockery of rational thought.

On Why Racism is Silly

“I have no race prejudices, and I think I have no color prejudices or caste prejudices nor creed prejudices. Indeed I know it. I can stand any society. All that I care to know is that a man is a human being–that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.”
-Mark Twain

The point isn’t if you’re  white, black, a jew, muslim, easterner, westerner, northerner, southerner, atheist, theist, liberal, or conservative. You’re human, and worthy of suspicion. I’m human too.