A couple of pertinent quotes

There’s a couple of quotes from Ernest Rutherford that I’ve kept in my head. Today seems like a good day to take them out of my head and put them to the WUWT readership. I’ll refer back to these at some point in the future I’m sure.

An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid.  – As quoted in Einstein: The Man and His Achievement (1973) by G. J. Whitrow, p. 42

“If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” – As quoted in many Internet sources.

With thanks to Evan.

Dr. Kevin Trenberth is also a New Zealander, but there’s light years separating him and Rutherford when it comes to how they view science and statistics. One was a model scientist, and the other is a scientist who models.

UPDATE: here is another –

“In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” – Samuel Clemens


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Dr. Bob

Richard Feinstein was also a great scientist, but he probably could explain Physics to pole dancers.


And play bongo drums at he same time!

R. Shearer

•”Sanity is not statistical.”
– George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 9

Richard Sharpe

Did you mean Richard Feynman?

Matt in Houston

Rutherford is one of the greats, but I agree with Dr Bob and Bernie-
Feynman is my role model. During the Shuttle Challenger investigation-
“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
It is so pertinent and utterly descriptive of what is wrong with the “science” of CAGW…it meandered onto the bottom of my emails while I spent time on the Shuttle Program for the last several years up until its completion. A great man, a great scientist and he has a lot of great quotes.

Follow the Money

I’ll give it a go,
`In climate science, introductions, briefings and executive summaries must be summarily ignored in favor of the underlying text they almost invariably distort.”
A very good example is the Nature editorial, “Bolstering the link,” which introduces Shakun as helping Al Gore. The editorialist sounds like a child saying “nyah, nyah,” or someone worried his government or NSF grants to spread “climate education” are threatened. Or is he a Brit scared the whole Brit financed system tethered on carbon derivatives and “green” scams could fail???
I believe the editorial is a “must read” for humor purposes, and also as an example of how publishers or commentators see what they want to see.


Dr. Bob says:
April 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm
“Richard Feinstein…”
“Feynman” maybe…?


Feinstein was probably a great physicist but I’ll bet Richard Feynman was even better and he did hang out at a topless joint.


Richard Feinstein was a physicist? Who knew? There was quite a famous physicist named Richard Feynman who was apparently very good at teaching as well. Maybe all “Richards” are good teachers.

Dr. Bob said @ April 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm

Richard Feinstein was also a great scientist, but he probably could explain Physics to pole dancers.

Dunno about Mr Feinstein, but Richard Feynman spent considerable amounts of time with pole dancers IIRC 🙂


Pole dancers and bongos sound more like Dr Feynman, but I am not familiar with Dr Feinstein.


Dr. Bob says:
April 8, 2012 at 6:10 pm
Richard Feinstein was also a great scientist, but he probably could explain Physics to pole dancers.

I looked up Richard Feinstein. He’s the guy in charge of anti-trust cases at the Federal Trade Commission. As a Democrat appointee, the pole dancer thing makes sense to me. http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2009/04/14/meet-richard-feinstein-the-new-antitrust-head-at-the-ftc/.
Perhaps the guy you were thinking of was Richard Feynman, However, I would imagine his mind would tend toward charged particles dancing around magnetic poles, or perhaps magnetic monopoles. And he probably could have explained those ideas to barmaids.

“They can do this because the same gift is at work here in both having that idea and explaining it. They have a facility to pick out a pattern, natural law or idea from what most of us would see as the jumbled confusion of reality. Being able to express those observations clearly is just the corollary of that big talent. They can make out that big idea because they think clearly and expressing themselves clearly follows just as naturally.”


To heck with the experiment, the barmaid is the point of the exercise.


I hope this is not casting aspersions on the art and skill of pole dancing. I have great respect and ahem admiration for such skill.

Frederick Michael

Richard Feinstein was also a great scientist, but he probably could explain Physics to pole dancers.
Surely you’re joking.

NZ Willy

I would apologise for Trenberth, had I any standing to do so. No apologies for Rutherford who is on our $100 bill.

General P. Malaise

“if you can’t laugh at yourself then you will be the only one not laughing”
Luke K 2004

michael hart

Now we know why Watson and Crick went to the pub…..


Many’s the time I’ve had something explained to me by a barmaid.

Mark Wagner

I feel it is my duty to solicit grants in order that I may personally, and at great peril, visit said bars and pole dancing establishments in order that I may seek out barmaids and pole dancers who may, in fact, have met Dr.’s Feinstein or Feynman and establish whether or not any such explanations were attempted and if they were understood.
Please send money to PO Box 33……


Rutherford was not just the greatest physicist the bottom end of the planet has produced, he was the greatest physicist of his age. He studied the fundamental nature of matter, in you face physics; the Nobel Panel therefore gave him the prize for Chemistry
He hated chemistry.


Richard Feinstein, Richard Feynman, etc. The big problem with AGW is too few Richards, too many dicks.

Dr. Bob

Thanks for correcting my mistake. Spent too much time on computers today reloading after a virus attack. SMART HDD is nasty.

Steve from Rockwood

Allencic says:
April 8, 2012 at 6:28 pm
Feinstein was probably a great physicist but I’ll bet Richard Feynman was even better and he did hang out at a topless joint.
I can’t imagine wanting to see Richard Feynman topless.

John Blake

“Climate science” is a non-empirical discipline akin to botany– a classificatory, fact-gathering enterprise immune to falsification via conjecture-hypothesis-theoretical validation. So “models” incorporating Big Government lampreys’ circular presuppositions loom very large… as Piers Corbyn says, academics’ vaunted super-computers enable only more and faster errors, discredited by trivial resort to a hand-calculator.
Don’t mess with Prospero: When peculating public-sector grants run dry, CAGW advocates and all their works will “vanish into air, into thin air,” while Sol’s Grand Minimum runs its 70-year course preparatory to an overdue resurgence of Pleistocene Ice Time. Then “all that … (Warmists may) inherit shall dissolve / “And like … (their) insubstantial pageant faded, / “Leave nor a wrack behind.”
Can’t happen soon enough.

Huub Bakker

My favourite Rutherford quote is from a sign in his lab that read
“We haven’t got the money so we’re going to have to think.”
Very pertinent to us here in Kiwiland, a long way away from the big science budgets and multi-million dollar government grants. In fact we have to export our most infamous scientists to find them; I’m thinking of Kevin Trenberth. The better ones we like to keep, like Chris de Frietas. 🙂

John F. Hultquist

Richard Feynman could NOT explain magnets to . . . any normal human.
Look and listen:


DocMartyn – indeed Rutherford said somehting like, “physics is the only science…the rest is all just stamp collecting”. So they gave him a Nobel Prize for Chemistry. That’ll show him!


“Scientists have odious manners, except when you prop up their theory; then you can borrow money from them.” – Mark Twain

Geoff Sherrington

@RobertL As a keen stamp collector, I dream of finding grandpas’ collections from the 1930s in a shoebox in the attic of homes somewhere in the world. So, all you avid readers, plrease contact me if you do have an old collection in the attic, especially of quality (mint) Australian stamps. sherro1 at optusnet dot com dot au
p.s. I’m a Chemist, did not quite get a Nobel prize because I spent too much time with Physicists, many of whom were marginally sane.

Geoff Sherrington

For science qotes, “Eleven plus Two” is an anagram for “Twelve plus One”. That’s a nice one for a narrow sector of interests.

spangled drongo

“Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts”.
I think Feynman said that and it sure makes sense.

Chris Parker

So does no one browse through the comments to avoid making the same correction over, and over, and over again?
Bit of schadenfreude going on here, or what?


Nothing to see here…move along:
In the realm of science it happens every hour that someone stands immediately before the solution of a problem convinced that all his efforts have been in vain like one untying a bow who, at just the moment before it is about to come apart, hesitates: for it is precisely then that it looks most like a knot. Frederich Nietzsche (Human, All Too Human 1878)
Whoever is not temperate with regard to the delights of the world should shun the studies of any art or science whatsoever, seeing that such pleasures and study can never agree well together. Giorgio Vasari (Lives of the Painters, Sculptors and Architects 1568)
Conscience is the inner voice that warns us that someone might be looking. H. L. Mencken
It has been a bitter mortification for me to digest the conclusion that the race is for the strong’ and that I shall probably do little more but be content to admire the strides others made in science. Charles Darwin
Thou goest beyond them: but the higher thou dost mount, the smaller thou seemest to the eye of envy. But he that hath wings is most hated. Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spake Zarathrusta 1891)
Man’s survival requires that those who think be free of the interference of those who don’t. Ayn Rand (Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal 1946)
They will say you are on the wrong road, if it is your own. Antonio Porchia
We always have the dolts and appearances against us. Frederich Nietsche (Beyond Good and Evil. 1886)
Wilt thou be solitary, my brother? Wilt thou seek the way alone? Tarry yet a while and hearken unto thee. He that seeketh may go astray. All solitude is sin,’ saith the herd. And long wast thou thyself of the herd. The voice of the herd yet lingereth within thee. And when thou woudst say, I have no longer a common conscience with you’, it shall be grief and pain unto you. Lo, this pain was itself born of that common conscience. And the last flicker of that conscience shineth in thine affliction. But wilt thou tread the way of thine affliction, which is the way unto thyself? Show me, then, thy right and thy power so to do! Friedrich Nietzsche (Thus Spake Zarathrusta 1891)
All the sick and sickly instinctively strive after a herd organization as a means of shaking off their dull displeasure and feeling of weakness…. The strong are as naturally inclined to separate as the weak are to congregate; if the former unite together, it is only with the aim of an aggressive collective action and collective satisfaction of their will to power, and with much resistance from the individual conscience; the latter, on the contrary, enjoy precisely this coming together their instinct is just as much satisfied by this as the instinct of the born masters (that is, the solitary, beast-of-pray species of man) is fundamentally irritated and disquieted by organization. Frederich Nietzsche (On the Geneology of Morals 1887)
The way in which we are educated nowadays means that we acquire a second nature: and we have it when the world calls us mature, of age, employable. A few of us are sufficiently snakes one day to throw off this skin, and to do so when beneath its covering their first nature has grown mature. With most of us, its germ has dried up. Frederich Nietzsche (Daybreak 1881)
When I was a child, my little friends would often say, When I grow up, I’m going to be…, I never said that. I couldn’t picture myself in the future. I wasn’t concerned. I really couldn’t imagine myself as one of those big people around who were grown up. Federico Fellini (I, Fellini)
During the journey we commonly forget its goal. Almost every profession is chosen and commenced as a means to an end but continued as an end in itself. Forgetting our objectives is the most frequent of all acts of stupidity. Frederich Nietzsche (Human, All Too Human 1878)
When a poet is not in love with reality his muse will consequently not be reality, and she will then bear him hollow-eyed and fragile-limbed children. Frederich Nietzsche (Human, All Too Human 1878)
We are none of us that which we appear to be in accordance with the states for which alone we have consciousness and words…. Frederich Nietzsche (Daybreak 1881)
Both love and fortune befriend the bold. Ovid
Who loves not women, wine, and song
Remains a fool his whole life long. Martin Luther
He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. St. John (The Bible)
A great gulf separates the knowledge of the obvious from the actual living of it. Aldous Huxley (Point Counter Point 1928)
Remember that you are the #1 expert in your business. Nobody has the feel for it that you do. And you must never let a hired gun talk you into doing something that feels totally wrong to you. Trust your instincts. Dan S. Kennedy (The Ultimate Marketing Plan 1991)
In this world there is always danger for those who are afraid of it. George Bernard Shaw
Next to the crime of oppressing the people, the worst crime is to accept oppression. Napoleon Bonaparte
We should strive to have a heart that can see things as they truly are. Even a simple problem can become complicated if we let our personal desires influence it…. But seeing the truth is not enough. To uphold the truth, we must have enough courage to jump into a fire. If we see things as they are and are willing to sacrifice ourselves, there is no real problem we cannot eventually overcome. Kazuo Inamori (A Passion for Success 1995)
Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy. F. Scott Fitzgerald
Fearful as reality is, it is less fearful than evasions of reality…. Look steadfastly into the slit, pin-pointed malignant eyes of reality as an old hand trainer dominates his wild beasts. Caitlin Thomas
You cannot get ahead based on how thing should work; you have to get ahead based on how thing actually work. Dan S. Kennedy (No Rules 1998)
By a deeper apprehension, and not primarily by a pinful acquisition of many manual skills, the artist attains the power of awakening other souls to a given activity. Emerson (History essay)
Would you learn to draw? Learn first to think and feel intensely. Vernon Blake (The Art and Craft of Drawing 1927)
-=NYC=- 2012


Geoff Sherrington says: April 8, 2012 at 9:11 pm
So don’t contact you if Grandma’s stamp collection is in the attic?


@ RobertL
I believe the Rutherford stamp related quote is
“That which is not measurable is not science. That which is not physics is stamp collecting.”

George E. Smith

Well Anthony, it just so happens that I photographed a number of famous statements by famous New Zealanders, three weeks ago, on an office building wall in Downtown Auckland.
Another Rutherford quote. “We don’t have money, so we have to think. “

Bloke down the pub

Having worked in a pub for many years, I can honestly say that many barmaids are as bright a bunch of people you could wish to meet. On the other hand, there are many who couldn’t find their arse with both hands, (so I had to do it for them).

Ockham’s razor

One of my favourite quotes is from Niels Bohr.
When a student of his saw a horseshoe nailed above his door.
He said, “You don’t believe in that nonsense, do you?”
To which Niels responded, “They tell me it works, whether you believe in it or not.”

Antony said: One was a model scientist, and the other is a scientist who models.One was a model scientist, and the other is a scientist who models.
Depends on how you define a scientist. If that is somebody in search for the physical truth and how nature works, using the scientific method, you may find that one of them is not a scientist, regardless of PhD’s Ms, BsC etc etc

Kelvin Vaughan

I have painted a picture of a clock. Do you know it is actually tells the right time twice a day!

Stephen Skinner

“Today’s scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.”
Nikola Tesla

Bob in Castlemaine

Crikey Anthony you really did take the cork out of the bottle! Anyway here’s another to ponder, one I like from Thomas Huxley:

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.

Evan Jones

“Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” — Mark Twain
(Whereas, science is proving what you know ain’t so.)

Take Off Your Shoes & Feel the Global Warming

Living near Bangkok I am very in touch with pole dancers and bongos. Physicists I am not.

“No theory is carved in stone. Science is merciless when it comes to testing all theories over and over, at any time, in any place. Unlike religion or politics, science is ultimately decided by experiments, done repeatedly in every form. There are no sacred cows. In science, 100 authorities count for nothing. Experiment counts for everything.” – Michio Kaku, a professor of theoretical physics at City College of New York


John F. Hultquist says:
April 8, 2012 at 8:56 pm
Richard Feynman could NOT explain magnets to . . . any normal human.
Look and listen:===========
ta for the clip.
and sorry but he could IF? the person asking had even the most basic science education..
which that reporter to his shame..obviously had NOT!


An alleged scientific discovery has no merit unless it can be explained to a barmaid. – As quoted in Einstein: The Man and His Achievement (1973) by G. J. Whitrow, p. 42
Don’t recall it as this, but as ‘if you can’t explain it to the cleaner you don’t understand it.’
So…, http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/fjwkh/why_exactly_can_nothing_go_faster_than_the_speed/c1gh4x7?utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=10%20Things%20In%20Tech%20You%20Need%20To%20Know&utm_campaign=10ThingsTech_NL_022211
What looks like it’s going to be a brilliantly simple explanation, however, I don’t understand it, I’ve got stuck here:
“… That’s how it is to move through our universe. You’ve got a steering wheel, but no throttle. When you sit there at apparent rest, you’re really careening toward the future at top speed. But when you get up to put the kettle on, you change your direction of motion through spacetime, but not your speed of motion through spacetime. So as you move through space a bit more quickly, you find yourself moving through time a bit more slowly.”
No you don’t, says I, you’re still moving through time just as quickly – because everything is moving at that speed. Turning around to face the back of the train isn’t changing the speed you’re travelling on the train. This arrows and axis explanation, as follows from that excerpt, makes the jump to ‘therefore you slow down time by change of direction’ without any logical, to me, joining of parts. The arrow is still travelling at the same speed, it’s an illusion created by transferring it to two dimensions. Isn’t it?
“You can visualize this by imagining a pair of axes drawn on a sheet of paper. The axis that runs up and down is the time axis, and the upward direction points toward the future. The horizontal axis represents space. We’re only considering one dimension of space, because a piece of paper only has two dimensions total and we’re all out, but just bear in mind that the basic idea applies to all three dimensions of space.”
Which way you’re facing or moving about doesn’t change the speed of going into the future, any more than sitting still on a train in the station, because everything is still moving at that speed.
I’ve just cleaned your table and poured you a drink. Go for it.
“There is no doubt that creativity is the most important human resource of all. Without creativity, there would be no progress, and we would be forever repeating the same patterns.”
— Edward de Bono