Explaining Explanations

Sunday, April 4, 2010 – Explaining Explanations

For centuries, theologians have been explaining the unknowable in terms of the-not-worth-knowing. ~ H. L. Mencken

He spends his life explaining from his pulpit that the glory of Christianity consists in the fact that though it is not true it has been found necessary to invent it. ~ Hector Hugh Munro

Religion. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable. ~ Ambrose Bierce

The average Ph.D. thesis is nothing but a transference of bones from one graveyard to another. ~ J. Frank Dobie

It is a mania shared by philosophers of all ages to deny what exists and to explain what does not exist. ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau

It’s weird… people say they’re not like apes. Now how do you explain football then? ~ Mitch Hedberg

An idea, like a ghost, must be spoken to a little before it will explain itself. ~ Charles Dickens

Explanation separates us from astonishment, which is the only gateway to the incomprehensible. ~ Eugene Ionesco

Look wise, say nothing, and grunt. Speech was given to conceal thought. ~ Sir William Osler

Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance. ~ Sam Brown

Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I can’t understand these chaps who go round American universities explaining how they write poems: It’s like going round explaining how you sleep with your wife. ~ Philip Larkin

I myself do not believe in explaining anything. ~ Shel Silverstein

If we go on explaining we shall cease to understand one another. ~ Charles Maurice de Talleyrand

If you are explaining, you are losing. ~ J. C. Watts

Don’t try to explain it, just sell it. ~ Colonel Tom Parker

If you can’t explain it, how can you take credit for it? ~ Harold Grange

An explanation of cause is not a justification by reason. ~ C. S. Lewis

The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it. ~ Mark Twain

It saves trouble to be conventional, for you’re not always explaining things. ~ Myrtle Reed

If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn’t have been worth the Nobel Prize. ~ Richard P. Feynman

What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know. ~ Saint Augustine

George Bush says, “Gore’s book needs a lot of explaining.” Of course, Bush says that about every book. ~ Bill Maher

Explaining something sensible to Lord Killanin is akin to explaining something to a cauliflower. The advantage of the cauliflower is that if all else fails, you can always cover it with melted cheese and eat it. ~ William E. Simon

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another. ~ James Matthew Barrie

A man who is “of sound mind” is one who keeps the inner madman under lock and key. ~ Paul Valéry, Mauvaises pensées et autres, 1942

Because bankers measure their self-worth in money, and pay themselves a lot of it, they think they’re fine fellows and don’t need to explain themselves. ~ James Buchan

“Be yourself” is about the worst advice you can give some people. ~ Tom Masson

Character is that sum total of moments we can’t explain. ~ George Saunders

A politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterwards to explain why it didn’t happen. ~ Winston Churchill

I find it difficult to explain, but I’m quite ashamed of being an actress. ~ Kristin Scott Thomas

Michael Jackson wanted to be in Men in Black II. He told me he had seen the first Men in Black in Paris and had stayed behind and sat there and wept. I had to explain to him that it was a comedy. ~ Barry Sonnenfeld

I believe in luck: how else can you explain the success of those you dislike? ~ Jean Cocteau

I want Carl Sagan to explain the sky to me. ~ Whoopi Goldberg

I’m glad I don’t have to explain to a man from Mars why each day I set fire to dozens of little pieces of paper, and then put them in my mouth. ~ Mignon McLaughlin

In fact, when you get right down to it, almost every explanation Man came up with for anything until about 1926 was stupid. ~ Dave Barry

Science is what we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else we do. ~ Donald Knuth

Things explain each other, not themselves. ~ George Oppen

The breaking of a wave cannot explain the whole sea. ~ Vladimir Nabokov