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The Final Four: Cervantes, Hobbes, Dick, Carlin! Today’s semifinal: Miguel de Cervantes (2) vs. Thomas Hobbes

We’re nearing the end! Yesterday‘s winner was decided based on several Carlin quotes. From Paul, a great line on Muhammad Ali:

He said, ‘No, that’s where I draw the line. I’ll beat ‘em up, but I don’t want to kill ‘em.’ And the government said, ‘Well, if you won’t kill people, we won’t let you beat ‘em up.’

And from Rick, a quote on probability and the baseline fallacy, and from Jonathan, a simple model for a simple purpose.

And today we have two oldsters. I’m rooting for Hobbes because it would be fun to have a political scientist in the final—Raymond Aron never made it past the first round—but you’d be a fool to bet against Cervantes, a man who had, arguably, the toughest route of anyone to the Final Four, having defeated, order, Joan Crawford, Henry David Thoreau, Albert Camus, and Mark Twain. Damn that’s impressive.

P.S. As always, here’s the background, and here are the rules.


  1. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Hobbes on statistical significance and publication bias:
    “It sometimes happens to those who listen to philosophers and schoolmen that, by the habit of listening, they rashly accept the words they hear even though no sense can be expressed by them (for such are the words that have been invented by the learned to hide their ignorance), and they use them, believing that they are saying something when they say nothing. Finally, because of the ease od speech, the man who really does not think still speaks, and believes what he says is true, and he can deceive himself.”

    On the weakness of the statistical method:
    “There is no effect in nature which the Author of nature cannot bring to pass by more ways than one….Of Arts, some are demonstrable, others indemonstrable….The Science of every subject is derived from a praecognition of the Causes, Generation, and Construction of the same; and consequently where the Causes are known, there is place for Demonstration; but not where the Causes are to seek for…[Where] we know not the Construction, but seek it from the Effects, there lyes no demonstration of what the causes be we seek for, but onely of what they might be”

  2. zbicyclist says:

    I looked up both on BrainyQuote. For someone who wasn’t writing in English, he’s credited with a fair number of English catchphrases.

    Let’s bring the old guy back to life and see what else he’s got.

    When thou art at Rome, do as they do at Rome.

    A closed mouth catches no flies.

    He who loses wealth loses much; he who loses a friend loses more; but he that loses his courage loses all.

    No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly.

    The gratification of wealth is not found in mere possession or in lavish expenditure, but in its wise application.

    Forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.

    Jonathan provides some good Hobbes quotes, but do we really want to end up with a lecture on publication bias at the end of this? Can we do no better?

    • Jonathan (another one) says:

      On behalf of Hobbes, I will respond to this calumny. “I know [zbicyclist] will not offer those promised praises to me, but will say they are not to be given. But I freely go without them, or if they are due I absolve him from the payment of them, judging that to be praised by a man of his manners is considerably less noble than to be censured.”

      Hobbes could throw down when he needed to, too.

  3. Adam says:

    I vote for Hobbes because he understood irony:

    “I often observe the absurdity of [my] dreams, but never dream of the absurdities of my waking thoughts.”

    With Cervantes, we’d just have more tilting at windmills. Isn’t that what usually happens in an academic seminar?

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