[PW] Quote: Most people would die sooner than think - in fact, they do so. Request "The ABC of Relativity" or "Psyche" article by Bertrand Russell

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com
Sun Sep 23 22:50:06 PDT 2018


An entry discussing the saying in the subject line is now available on
the Quote Investigator website. The acknowledgement mentions Phillip
L. Ackerman, Barry Popik, and Dan Goncharoff.

https://quoteinvestigator.com/2018/09/23/think/

Feedback welcome,
Garson O'Toole
On Tue, Aug 28, 2018 at 6:32 AM ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> This request has been satisfied. The 1925 edition of "The ABC of
> Relativity" by Bertrand Russell does contain the excerpt. Many thanks
> to Professor Phillip L. Ackerman of Georgia Tech for accessing the
> book and sending scans. I will create a Quote Investigator entry on
> this topic in the coming weeks.
>
> Garson
>
> On Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 8:41 PM ADSGarson O'Toole
> <adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > A psychology professor asked me to explore the following expression
> > attributed to Bertrand Russell.
> >
> > Most people would rather die than think, and many of them do.
> >
> > I've conducted a preliminary search, and it appears that "The ABC of
> > Relativity" (1925 & 1927 edition) by Bertrand Russell does contain an
> > instance although the phrasing differs from the statement above (see
> > below for the correct phrasing). The Google Books database contains a
> > snippet match in the 1927 edition.
> >
> > If you have access to the 1925 edition would you please verify the
> > presence of the excerpt below? It should be appear within the page
> > range 160 to 170. Later editions (1958 and after) have removed the
> > quotation.
> >
> > Year: 1927 (Edition in Google Books)
> > Title: The ABC of Relativity
> > Author: Bertrand Russell
> > Quote Page 166 (According to Google Books; please check nearby pages)
> > Database: Google Books (Data may be inaccurate and must be verified
> > with hardcopy or scans)
> >
> > [Begin excerpt from "The ABC of Relativity" and "Psyche". Verification
> > required.]
> > We all have a tendency to think that the world must conform to our
> > prejudices. The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and
> > most people would die sooner than think — in fact, they do so. But the
> > fact that a spherical universe seems odd to people who have been
> > brought up on Euclidean prejudices is no evidence that it is
> > impossible.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > The quotation also appeared in the journal "Psyche". Perhaps a list
> > member can verify this citation and help me to construct a complete
> > citation?
> >
> > Year: 1925
> > Month: Unknown
> > Periodical: Psyche
> > Article and Author: Unknown (Author is probably Bertrand Russell)
> > Volume: 6
> > Quote Page 47
> > Publisher: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company, London
> > Database: Google Books (Data may be inaccurate and must be verified
> > with hardcopy or scans)
> >
> > [Begin extracted text]
> > The opposite view involves some effort of thought, and most people
> > would die sooner than think — in fact, they do so.
> > [End extracted text]
> >
> > Here is some additional optional background. Interesting citations
> > from list members would be welcome.
> >
> > Below is a match in 1913 with the comical addendum "and they do". I do
> > not know the identity of "Sheldon".
> >
> > Date: September 4, 1913
> > Periodical: Printers' Ink: A Journal for Advertisers
> > Volume 84, Number 10
> > Article: (Advertisement encouraging the purchase of newspaper
> > advertisements in the "Standard Union" of Brooklyn)
> > Quote Page 54
> >
> > https://books.google.com/books?id=ZcIpAAAAYAAJ&q=%22rather+fail%22#v=snippet&
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > Most people would rather fail, sicken and die than think—and they do. —Sheldon
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Below is a match in 1857 without the comical addendum. I do not know
> > who wrote "Editor's Table".
> >
> > Date: August 1857
> > Periodical: Harper's New Monthly Magazine
> > Article: Editor's Table
> > Start Page 410, Quote Page 406
> >
> > https://books.google.com/books?id=HIYCAAAAIAAJ&q=%22rather+die%22#v=snippet&
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > There are men who will dare death for glory or for country, who could
> > not dare scorn or contumely for the truth; and people generally would
> > rather die than think. Nothing but that enrapturing sentiment and
> > vivid vision implied in the love of truth--nothing but that
> > transporting thrill which imparadises the soul in the perception of a
> > new thought, can lift a wise and good man above the wholesome
> > prejudices of prudence, custom, country, and common belief, and make
> > him let loose the immortal idea his mind imprisons, and send it forth
> > to war against false systems and tenacious errors, with the firm faith
> > that it will result in eventual good, though at first it seems to
> > trail along with it the pernicious consequences of a lie.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Garson O'Toole
> > QuoteInvestigator.com


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