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99 of 6,095 quotations related to Public Opinion

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Adams, Douglas
The most misleading assumptions are the ones you don't even know you're making.

1990 - from Last Chance to See
Adams, Michael  
... consensus on social values is determined less and less by demographic factors. Among older Canadians, differences in social values are largely determined by such demographic variables such as gender, education and income, but this is less true among younger groups.

1997 - from Sex in the Snow
Aiken, Howard
Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats.

Angell, Norman
It is not the facts which guide the conduct of men, but their opinions about facts; which may be entirely wrong. We can only make them right by discussion.

Anthony, Susan B.
Cautious, careful people, always casting about to preserve their reputation and social standing, never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest must be willing to be anything or nothing in the world's estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathy with despised and persecuted ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.

1860
Bacon, Sir Francis
Men on their side must force themselves for a while to lay their notions by and begin to familiarize themselves with facts.

Baldwin, Stanley
A platitude is simply a truth repeated until people get tired of hearing it.

1924
Beecher, Henry Ward
Doctrine is nothing but the skin of truth set up and stuffed.

Bonaparte, Napoleon
A man will fight harder for his interests than for his rights.

1815 - from Maxims
Brandeis, Louis Dembitz
... public discussion is a political duty...

1927 - from Whitney v. California 274 U.S. 357



The greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.

Branden, Nathaniel
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance.

Burke, Edmund
Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle... chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little, shriveled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome insects of the hour.

1790 - from Reflections on the Revolution in France
All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. ... Man acts from motives relative to his interests; and not on metaphysical speculations.

1770 - from "On the Causes of the Present Discontents"
A populace never rebels from passion for attack, but from impatience of suffering.

Burnett, Francis Hodgson
At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done - then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.

Butler, Samuel
The public buys its opinions as it buys its meat, or takes in its milk, on the principle that it is cheaper to do this than to keep a cow. So it is, but the milk is more likely to be watered.

from Notebooks
Byron, Lord
Society is now one polished horde, formed of two mighty tribes, the Bores and Bored.

1818 - from Don Juan
Chrétien, Jean  
The public is moved by mood more than logic, by instinct more than reason, and that is something that every politician must make use of or guard against.

1985 - from Straight from the Heart
Coolidge, Calvin
When people are bewildered they tend to become credulous.




Courts are established, not to determine the popularity of a cause, but to adjudicate and enforce rights. No litigant should be required to submit his case to the hazard and expense of a political campaign.

Jan. 7, 1914 - from a speech delivered to the Massachusetts Senate when he became its president
Davey, Keith  
It should be noted that two points recur in any survey. The majority of Canadians always want lower taxes, and conversely, more and better services.

quoted in Canadian by Conviction, Brune and Bulgutch, Gage Educational Publishing Company
Deluzy, Dorothé
We believe at once in evil, we only believe in good upon reflection.

Diefenbaker, John George  
... dogs know best what to do with polls.

Whoever has charge of commenting on the news controls the future thinking of the nation.

Aug. 24, 1946 - from a statement in the Canadian Parliament
Dudek, Louis  
There is enlightenment in questions, but only barbarism in belief.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Durant, William
It may be true that you can't fool all the people all the time, but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.

Fraser Institute  
Regulations are ostensibly enacted to protect the public. But, while their intent may be laudable, governments often fail to consider whether a new regulation will meet its stated goal, whether it is the most cost-effective method of protecting the public, and what its unintended consequences are. It is inherently risky to breathe, eat, drive, walk, work, invest, and play. As our tolerance for the risks associated with these activities continues to decrease, governments have responded by introducing an increasing number of new regulations affecting almost every facet of our lives. Regulation of chemicals, pharmaceuticals, food, transportation, and environment are often governed by political response to public fear and hysteria rather than careful, objective, scientific evaluations of actual risks.

Apr. 02, 1999 - from marketing literature promoting their conference on this subject
Frye, H. Northrop  
... an open mind, to be sure, should be open at both ends, like the foodpipe, and have a capacity for excretion as well as intake.

1982 - from The Great Code
Fuller, Thomas
Seeing's believing, but feeling's the truth.

1732 - from Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs



What reason and endeavor cannot bring about, often time will.

1732 - from Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs
Gairdner, William D.  
... it seems our fabulous material comfort has made it all too easy to abandon the first duty of free citizens: sincere, lifelong moral and intellectual interest in this greatest of all reflections [political philosophy]. We seem more subject than ever to to mass unconcern - or rather, to a kind of active apathy - and hence to gross ideological manipulation.

Apr. 2001 - from The Trouble with Democracy
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang
No one would talk much in society if they knew how often they misunderstood others.

Grant, R.W.
The real power of the state does not lie in its guns or jail cells but in the confused willingness of individuals to subordinate their legitimate rights to some alleged 'greater good.' And when this sanction is withdrawn, the state is in trouble.

1999 - from The Incredible Bread Machine, published by Fox and Wilkes
... the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the political left is moral intimidation derived from the unchallenged assumptions of altruism. ... As long as people accept the idea that self-interest is 'greed,' and that virtue rests only in service to 'others,' demagogues of the left (or the right) will be more than happy to see that 'virtue' prevails.

1999 - from The Incredible Bread Machine, published by Fox and Wilkes
Hayek, Friedrich
The most effective way of making people accept the validity of the values they are to serve is to persuade them that they are really the same as those which they ... have always held, but which were not properly understood or recognized before. And the most efficient technique to this end is to use the old words but change their meaning. Few traits of totalitarian regimes are at the same time so confusing to the superficial observer and yet so characteristic of the whole intellectual climate as the complete perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals of the new regimes are expressed.

Hitler, Adolf
All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual level to the perception of the least intelligent of those towards whom it intends to direct itself.

1925 - from Mein Kampf
The great masses of the people will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one.

What luck for the rulers that men do not think.

The size of the lie is a definite factor in causing it to be believed, for the vast masses of a nation are in the depths of their hearts more easily deceived than they are consciously and intentionally bad. The primitive simplicity of their minds renders them more easily prey to a big lie then a small one, for they themselves often tell little lies but would be ashamed to tell a big one.




Hoffer, Eric
When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

Hume, David
It is ... on opinion only that government is founded; and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments, as well as to the free and the most popular.

1739 - from A Treatise on Human Nature
Huxley, Aldous
Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.

from Proper Studies
Inge, William Ralph
A cat can be trusted to purr when she is pleased, which is more than can be said for human beings.

James, William
A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

Jampolsky, Gerald
The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.

Jay, John
... the people of any country... seldom adopt and steadily persevere for many years in an erroneous opinion respecting their interests.

Oct. 31, 1787 - from Federalist Paper No. 2
Jefferson, Thomas
Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

Mar. 4, 1801 - from his first Inaugural Address
The body of the American people is substantially republican. But their virtuous feelings have been played on by some fact with more fiction; they have been the dupes of artful maneuvers, and made for a moment to be willing instruments in forging chains for themselves. But times and truth dissipated the delusion, and opened their eyes.

1799 - from a letter to Thomas Lomax
Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their own government; that whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights.

Jan. 8, 1789 - from a letter to Richard Price



Kennedy, Robert F.
One-fifth of the people are against everything all the time.

King, Martin Luther
Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.

Koestler, Arthur
Habit is the denial of creativity and the negation of freedom; a self-imposed straitjacket of which the wearer is unaware.

Krauthammer, Charles
One modern conceit is that the inner man is more important than the outer man. The second conceit is that somehow, thanks to Freud and modern psychobabble, we have real access to the inner man. As a former psychiatrist, I know how excruciatingly difficult it is to try to understand the soul of even someone you have spent hundreds of hours alone with in therapy. To think one can decipher the inner life of some distant public figure is simple folly.

Oct. 19, 1999 - from "We should judge politicians by their deeds", Detroit News
L'Amour, Louis
... people have a greater tolerance for evil than for violence.

1960 - from The Daybreakers
A ship does not sail with yesterday's wind.

1984 - from The Walking Drum
... civilization is a flimsy cloak, and just outside are hunger, thirst, and cold... waiting.

1978 - from Bendigo Shafter
It is only the ignorant who are positive, only the ignorant who can become fanatics...

1984 - from The Walking Drum
To me it ... seems obvious that a child should be taught some methods of reasoning, methods of scientific investigation. Children have an innate feeling for logic and, given the opportunity, would learn quickly. Such instruction would be unthinkable in any country not a democracy, and if carried out in a democracy it might clear the air of a lot of loose thinking, loose public speaking, and the kind of questionable statements that fill the air during political and other campaigns.

1989 - from Education of a Wandering Man
Livius, Titus
We fear things in proportion to our ignorance of them.




Madison, James
The private interest of every individual may be a sentinel on the public rights.

The censorial power is in the people over the government and not in the government over the people.

Public opinion sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.

Magner, Mark  
Public ignorance is an essential tool in the socialist's toolbox

Dec. 15, 2000
Martin, Everett
It is easier to believe than to doubt.

Matthews, Chris
A sad rule of thumb is that most people believe that if any shot goes unanswered it must be true.

1999 - from Hardball
Matthews, Robin  
Inside Canada ideologies contend with so much continuity that many Canadians often fail to see the outlines of the differences.

from "Ideology in Canada" in Canadian Foundations, published by the Open Learning Agency
Fundamental ideological structures in a society are rarely changed - unless by violent revolutionary overthrow - once they have taken shape ... people who gain state power through the predominance of one political ideology are loath to see the free and healthy development of ideologies that question existing predominance ... The fact that radical ideological change may result in instability is not only a fact, it is a political weapon used to support injustice and to maintain the dominant ideology. In many cases instability is forced upon what otherwise would be fairly peaceable ideological transitions.

from "Ideology in Canada" in Canadian Foundations, published by the Open Learning Agency
McLaughlin, Mignon
Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.

1963
Mill, John Stuart
He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.




Newman, Peter C.  
The conquest of any nation takes place not on battlefields, not in business boardrooms, but within the soul of its people and the minds of their leaders.

quoted in Columbo's New Canadian Quotations by John Robert Columbo
Nixon, Richard Milhouse
The ultimate test of a nation's character is not how it responds to adversity in war but how it meets the challenge of peace.

1994 - from Beyond Peace
Novak, Michael
Honesty on questions of race is rare in the United States. So many and unrecognized have been the injustices committed against blacks that no one wishes to be unkind, or subject himself to intimidating charges. Hence, even simple truths are commonly evaded.

Sep. 1975 - from his review of Race and Economics, by Thomas Sowell, review published by the New York Times
Pirsig, Robert M.
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it's going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kind of dogmas or goals, it's always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.

1974 - from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Pulitzer, Joseph
Publicity, publicity, publicity is the greatest factor and force in our public life.

Put it before them briefly so they will read it, clearly so they will appreciate it, picturesquely so they will remember it and, above all accurately so they will be guided by its light.

Rotstein, Abraham  
Every dogma has its day.

Russell, Bertrand
One should respect public opinion insofar as is necessary to avoid starvation and keep out of prison, but anything beyond this is voluntary submission to an unnecessary tyranny.

Sagan, Carl Edward
One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We're no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. it is simply too painful to acknowledge -- even to ourselves -- that we've been so credulous.

from "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection"
Scruton, Roger
Where people take no responsibility for major decisions, they cease to expect politicians to behave any differently. Conversely, where the habit of responsible accounting endures, politicians are under pressure to behave like the rest of us.

Aug. 1998 - from "Christian Democracy and the Czech Republic", published in The New Presence



Sharp, Mitchell  
The extremes do not attract votes.

Jun. 26, 2001 - quoted in "PM's mentor laments Grit monopoly", published in the National Post
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander
There is one psychological peculiarity in the human being that always strikes one: to shun even the slightest signs of trouble on the outer edge of your existence at times of well-being.

It is not because the truth is too difficult to see that we make mistakes. It may even lie on the surface; but we make mistakes because the easiest and most comfortable course for us is to seek insight where it accords with our emotions - especially selfish ones.

1973 - from "Peace and Violence" in Solzhenitsyn: A Documentary Record, Leopold Labedz, ed.
Sowell, Thomas
Much of the social history of the Western world, over the past three decades, has been a history of replacing what has worked with what sounded good. In area after area - crime, education, housing, race relations - the situation has gotten worse after the bright new theories were put into operation. The amazing thing is that this history of failure and disaster has neither discouraged the social engineers nor discredited them.

Teague, Jr.
Nothing is so simple that it cannot be misunderstood.

Thomas, Clarence
On matters of consequence, reasons and arguments must be of consequence.

Feb. 13, 2001 - from his Francis Boyer Lecture to the American Enterprise Institute
Thoreau, Henry David
Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but religiously follows the new.

Thurber, James
You can fool too many of the people too much of the time.

1945 - from The Thurber Carnival
Twain, Mark
The man with a new idea is a crank until the idea succeeds.

Unknown
It is easier to believe a lie that one has heard a thousand times than to believe a fact that no one has heard before.




Not to know is bad; not to wish to know is worse.

African proverb
Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.

Kenyan proverb
A concept is stronger than a fact.

Van Doren, Charles
Nothing is more conducive to progress than the widespread belief that it can occur.

Vidal, Gore
For the average American freedom of speech is simply the freedom to repeat what everyone else is saying and no more.

Webster, Daniel
Let us thank God that we live in an age when something has influence besides the bayonet, and when the sternest authority does not venture to encounter the scorching power of public reproach.

Jun. 17, 1825 - [Must we go back to bayonets now? Ed.] from a speech at the foundation of the Bunker Hill monument commemorating the soldiers of the American Revolution
Wilde, Oscar
The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.

1888 - from The Critic as Artist
Formerly we used to canonize our heroes. The modern method is to vulgarize them. Cheap editons of great books may be delightful, but cheap editions of great men are absolutely detestable.

1891 - from The Critic as Artist
The public have an insatiable curiosity to know everything, except what is worth knowing. Journalism, conscious of this, and having tradesman-like habits, supplies their demands.

1895 - from The Soul of a Man Under Socialism