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Quote of The Day: Beyond Wrong

 

“That is not only not right; it is not even wrong.” — Wolfgang Pauli (1900-58)

The quote refers to something being asserted or claimed that is not only in error, but demonstrates such complete misunderstanding and ignorance by the person making the claim that it would be a waste of time to seriously discuss. I am sure many of you can identify ideas and people falling into that category.

Pauli, one of many European theoretical physicists who immigrated to the United States after 1933, was known for his blunt comments. The closest contemporary description of a version of the quote is from a colleague’s remarks shortly after his death:

Quite recently, a friend showed him the paper of a young physicist which he suspected was not of great value but on which he wanted Pauli’s views. Pauli remarked sadly ‘It is not even wrong.’

Pauli was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of what is known as the Pauli Exclusion Principle, which should not be confused with the Principle By Which Paulie Was Excluded.

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There are 8 comments.

  1. Contributor

    Sometimes the simplest comments are the most profound. Thanks, Mark.

    • #1
    • February 10, 2019 at 7:45 am
    • 3 likes
  2. Member

    Yes, this is a pithier retort than “that is so wrong I can’t even know where to start”. If he was living today he might make it even shorter: “That is not only not right; it’s clueless.”

    In today’s political climate dialogue is often stopped by pejoratives. This is an exclamation of how a dialogue cannot even start

    • #2
    • February 10, 2019 at 8:58 am
    • 3 likes
  3. Member
    LC

    Yeah, I’ve always loved this Pauli quote. He was well known for being a perfectionist. Always had biting comments to make of theories he found absurd. 

    • #3
    • February 10, 2019 at 9:24 am
    • 4 likes
  4. Member

    Gumby Mark (R-Meth Lab of Demo…: The quote refers to something being asserted or claimed that is not only in error, but demonstrates such complete misunderstanding and ignorance by the person making the claim that it would be a waste of time to seriously discuss. I am sure many of you can identify ideas and people falling into that category.

    Like the “Green New Deal”?

    • #4
    • February 10, 2019 at 3:01 pm
    • 4 likes
  5. Thatcher

    LC (View Comment):
    Yeah, I’ve always loved this Pauli quote. He was well known for being a perfectionist. Always had biting comments to make of theories he found absurd. 

    Too bad Republicans can’t do the same to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others.


    The Quote of the Day series is the easiest way to start a fun conversation on Ricochet. We have only 2 open dates left on the February Schedule. We’ve even include tips for finding great quotes, so choose your favorite quote and sign up today!

    • #5
    • February 10, 2019 at 3:02 pm
    • 2 likes
  6. Member

    Once I was discussing ballistic missile defense with an environmental activist NGO type. I was explaining how our missile defense system is designed with four layered subsystems that are meant to address incoming threats at different ranges and velocities, and that we spend a lot of money to recreate realistic test scenarios that mimic the ballistic missile attack capabilities of our adversaries and ensure the system works under realistic operational conditions. And how our adversaries’ capabilities are constantly evolving and improving, and we continue to develop more advanced defensive systems and tactics to keep ahead of the threat. Classic predator-prey co-evolution.

    She asked me why we don’t just create one single defensive system that can intercept any threat, current or future. That would be much simpler and then we could get out of this pernicious arms race. It would also reduce the risk that our adversaries develop some new capability we don’t know about or can’t match. Her idea was not even wrong.

    • #6
    • February 11, 2019 at 8:01 am
    • 4 likes
  7. Member

    I’ve never seen this movie, but I’ve always envied the author of this gem…

    • #7
    • February 11, 2019 at 8:23 am
    • 2 likes
  8. Thatcher

     

    GM,

    Your quote of Pauli is the perfect quote in response to the Green New Deal. Pauli was a treasure. Here are a couple more quotes from him.

    The best that most of us can hope to achieve in physics is simply to misunderstand at a deeper level.

    I don’t mind your thinking slowly; I mind your publishing faster than you think.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #8
    • February 11, 2019 at 8:35 am
    • 3 likes