The Pool of GRE Issue Topics
This page contains the Issue topics for the analytical writing
section of the GRE General Test. When you take the test, you will be
presented with two Issue topics from this pool.
The wording of some topics in the test might vary slightly from what is
presented here. Therefore, read your test topics carefully and respond
to the wording as it appears in the actual test.
Present your perspective on the issue below, using relevant reasons
and/or examples to support your views.
"The well-being of a society is enhanced when many of its people
"Artists should pay little attention to their critics.* Criticism tends
to undermine and constrain the artist's creativity."
*those who evaluate works of art, such as novels, films, music,
"It is the artist, not the critic,* who gives society something of
*a person who evaluates works of art, such as novels, films, music,
"A crucial test of character is whether one is able to adapt to changing
social conventions without sacrificing one's principles."
"People who are the most deeply committed to an idea or policy are the
most critical of it."
"Tradition and modernization are incompatible. One must choose between
"Many people admire idealism, but it usually leads to disappointment or
"The most practical and effective way to protect wilderness areas is to
attract more tourists to these areas through environmentally sensitive
"Because of television and worldwide computer connections, people can
now become familiar with a great many places that they have never
visited. As a result, tourism will soon become obsolete."
"High-speed electronic communications media, such as electronic mail and
television, tend to prevent meaningful and thoughtful communication."
"The only responsibility of corporate executives, provided they stay
within the law, is to make as much money as possible for their
"Students should bring a certain skepticism to whatever they study. They
should question what they are taught instead of accepting it passively."
"Both parents and communities must be involved in the local schools.
Education is too important to leave solely to a group of professional
"Contemporary society offers so many ways of learning that reading books
is no longer very important."
"Choice is an illusion. In reality, our lives are controlled by the
society in which we live."
"There is no such thing as purely objective observation. All observation
is subjective; it is always guided by the observer's expectations or
The arts (music, dance, visual arts, etc.) are vitally important to
students' education and should therefore receive as much emphasis as
mathematics, science, reading and other mainstream subjects."
"The human mind will always be superior to machines because machines are
only tools of human minds."
"The most essential quality of an effective leader is the ability to
remain consistently committed to particular principles and objectives.
Any leader who is quickly and easily influenced by shifts in popular
opinion will accomplish little."
"In this age of intensive media coverage, it is no longer possible for a
society to regard any woman or man as a hero. The reputation of anyone
who is subjected to media scrutiny will eventually be diminished."
"One often hears about the need for individuals to take responsibility
for their own lives. However, the conditions in which people find
themselves have been largely established long before people become aware
of them. Thus, the concept of personal responsibility is much more
complicated and unrealistic than is often assumed."
"Most people live, whether physically or morally, in a very restricted
circle. They make use of a very limited portion of the resources
available to them until they face a great problem or crisis."
"Sometimes imagination is a more valuable asset than experience. People
who lack experience are free to imagine what is possible and thus can
approach a task without constraints of established habits and
"In any given field, the leading voices come from people who are
motivated not by conviction but by the desire to present opinions and
ideas that differ from those held by the majority."
"Over the past century, the most significant contribution of technology
has been to make people's lives more comfortable."
"It is impossible for an effective political leader to tell the truth
all the time. Complete honesty is not a useful virtue for a politician."
"Critical judgment of work in any given field has little value unless it
comes from someone who is an expert in that field."
"Those who treat politics and morality as though they were separate
realms fail to understand either the one or the other."
"The surest indicator of a great nation is not the achievements of its
rulers, artists, or scientists, but the general welfare of all its
"People who pursue their own intellectual interests for purely personal
reasons are more likely to benefit the rest of the world than are people
who try to act for the public good."
"Important truths begin as outrageous, or at least uncomfortable,
attacks upon the accepted wisdom of the time."
"Originality does not mean thinking something that was never thought
before; it means putting old ideas together in new ways."
"Laws should not be rigid or fixed. Instead, they should be flexible
enough to take account of various circumstances, times, and places."
"It is always an individual who is the impetus for innovation; the
details may be worked out by a team, but true innovation results from
the enterprise and unique perception of an individual."
"The function of science is to reassure; the purpose of art is to upset.
Therein lies the value of each."
"The study of an academic discipline alters the way we perceive the
world. After studying the discipline, we see the same world as before,
but with different eyes."
"It is possible to pass laws that control or place limits on people's
behavior, but legislation cannot reform human nature. Laws cannot change
what is in people's hearts and minds."
"What most human beings really want to attain is not knowledge, but
certainty. Gaining real knowledge requires taking risks and keeping the
mind open—but most people prefer to be reassured rather than to learn
the complex and often unsettling truth about anything."
"Many problems of modern society cannot be solved by laws and the legal
system because moral behavior cannot be legislated."
"The way students and scholars interpret the materials they work with in
their academic fields is more a matter of personality than of training.
Different interpretations come about when people with different
personalities look at exactly the same objects, facts, data, or events
and see different things."
"It is dangerous to trust only intelligence."
"As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible,
but more complex and more mysterious."
"It is a grave mistake to theorize before one has data."
"Scandals—whether in politics, academia, or other areas—can be useful.
They focus our attention on problems in ways that no speaker or reformer
"Practicality is now our great idol, which all powers and talents must
serve. Anything that is not obviously practical has little value in
"It is easy to welcome innovation and accept new ideas. What most people
find difficult, however, is accepting the way these new ideas are put
"Success, whether academic or professional, involves an ability to
survive in a new environment and, eventually, to change it."
"If people disregard the great works of the past, it is because these
works no longer answer the needs of the present."
"As long as people in a society are hungry or out of work or lack the
basic skills needed to survive, the use of public resources to support
the arts is inappropriate—and, perhaps, even cruel—when one considers
all the potential uses of such money."
"Education should be equally devoted to enriching the personal lives of
students and to training students to be productive workers."
"Success in any realm of life comes more often from taking chances or
risks than from careful and cautious planning."
"It is not the headline-making political events but the seldom-reported
social tranformations that have the most lasting significance."
"The best preparation for life or a career is not learning to be
competitive, but learning to be cooperative."
"The goal of politics should not be the pursuit of an ideal, but rather
the search for common ground and reasonable consensus."
"Technology creates more problems than it solves, and may threaten or
damage the quality of life."
"The material progress and well-being of one country are necessarily
connected to the material progress and well-being of all other
"Instead of encouraging conformity, society should show greater
appreciation of individual differences."
"Truly innovative ideas do not arise from groups of people, but from
individuals. When groups try to be creative, the members force each
other to compromise and, as a result, creative ideas tend to be weakened
and made more conventional. Most original ideas arise from individuals
"The most elusive knowledge is self-knowledge, and it is usually
acquired through solitude, rather than through interaction with others."
"The purpose of education should be to provide students with a value
system, a standard, a set of ideas—not to prepare them for a specific
"Unlike great thinkers and great artists, the most effective political
leaders must often yield to public opinion and abandon principle for the
sake of compromise."
"The best way to understand the character of a society is to examine the
character of the men and women that the society chooses as its heroes or
"We learn through direct experience; to accept a theory without
experiencing it is to learn nothing at all."
"As societies all over the world have more and more access to new
information, the effects on life-long learning can only be positive."
"People are too quick to take action; instead they should stop to think
of the possible consequences of what they might do."
"Rituals and ceremonies help define a culture. Without them, societies
or groups of people have a diminished sense of who they are."
"The way people look, dress, and act reveals their attitudes and
interests. You can tell much about a society's ideas and values by
observing the appearance and behavior of its people."
"Progress is best made through discussion among people who have
contrasting points of view."
"Most people choose a career on the basis of such pragmatic
considerations as the needs of the economy, the relative ease of finding
a job, and the salary they can expect to make. Hardly anyone is free to
choose a career based on his or her natural talents or interest in a
particular kind of work."
"Any decision-whether made by government, by a corporation, or by an
individual person-must take into account future conditions more than
"If a goal is worthy, then any means taken to attain it is justifiable."
"Too much emphasis has been placed on the need for students to challenge
the assertions of others. In fact, the ability to compromise and work
with others—that is, the ability to achieve social harmony—should be a
major goal in every school."
"Society should identify those children who have special talents and
abilities and begin training them at an early age so that they can
eventually excel in their areas of ability. Otherwise, these talents are
likely to remain undeveloped."
"The bombardment of visual images in contemporary society has the effect
of making people less able to focus clearly and extensively on a single
issue over a long period of time."
"Most important discoveries or creations are accidental: it is usually
while seeking the answer to one question that we come across the answer
"In order to produce successful original work, scholars and scientists
must first study the successful work of others to learn what
contributions remain to be made."
"In order for any work of art—whether film, literature, sculpture, or a
song—to have merit, it must be understandable to most people."
"Now that computer technology has made possible the rapid accessing of
large amounts of factual information, people are less likely than ever
to think deeply or originally. They feel unable to compete with—much
less contribute to—the quantity of information that is now available
"The increase in knowledge is forcing people to specialize. As a result,
the distance between fields of specialization has become so vast that
specialists in different areas are rarely able to influence each other."
"The chief benefit of the study of history is to break down the illusion
that people in one period of time are significantly different from
people who lived at any other time in history."
"Learning for learning's sake is an outdated concept. Today, education
must serve an ulterior purpose and be directed toward clear goals."
"Education is primarily a personal matter; it has little to do with
school or college."
"Censorship is rarely, if ever, justified."
"People often look for similarities, even between very different things,
and even when it is unhelpful or harmful to do so. Instead, a thing
should be considered on its own terms; we should avoid the tendency to
compare it to something else."
"People are mistaken when they assume that the problems they confront
are more complex and challenging than the problems faced by their
predecessors. This illusion is eventually dispelled with increased
knowledge and experience."
"To remain vigorous, any academic field needs to be led by truly
independent thinkers who are willing to ignore established boundaries
and challenge long-standing assumptions."
"The best way to teach—whether as an educator, employer, or parent—is to
praise positive actions and ignore negative ones."
"The best way to learn a new subject or skill is to study small segments
or details in great depth rather than to start by trying to develop a
sense of the whole."
"College students—and people in general—prefer to follow directions
rather than make their own decisions. Therefore, colleges should
eliminate as many choices as possible in order to offer students clear
" 'Moderation in all things' is ill-considered advice. Rather, one
should say, 'Moderation in most things,' since many areas of human
concern require or at least profit from intense focus."
"The purpose of education should be to create an academic environment
that is separate from the outside world. This kind of environment is
ideal because it allows students to focus on important ideas without
being held back by practical concerns."
"Although innovations such as video, computers, and the Internet seem to
offer schools improved methods for instructing students, these
technologies all too often distract from real learning."
"Most people prefer restrictions and regulations to absolute freedom of
choice, although they would probably deny such a preference."
"Most people are taught that loyalty is a virtue. But loyalty—whether to
one's friends, to one's school or place of employment, or to any
institution—is all too often a destructive rather than a positive
"Encouraging young people to believe that they can accomplish great
things if they try hard enough is both misleading and potentially
"Computers and video technology can make facsimiles of original works
such as paintings and historical documents available to everyone. The
great advantage of this new technology is that it will enable anyone—not
just scholars—to conduct in-depth research without having access to the
"Conformity almost always leads to a deadening of individual creativity
"Much of the information that people assume is 'factual' actually turns
out to be inaccurate. Thus, any piece of information referred to as a
'fact' should be mistrusted since it may well be proven false in the
"Although it is easy to respond positively to the work of another person
or group, it is far more worthwhile to give negative feedback."
"An individual's greatness cannot be judged objectively by his or her
contemporaries; the most objective evaluators of a person's greatness
are people who belong to a later time."
"Societies should try to save every plant and animal species, regardless
of the expense to humans in effort, time, and financial well-being."
"The true value of a civilization is reflected in its artistic creations
rather than in its scientific accomplishments."
"Most societies do not take their greatest thinkers seriously, even when
they claim to admire them."
"We can usually learn much more from people whose views we share than
from people whose views contradict our own; disagreement can cause
stress and inhibit learning."
"Competition is ultimately more beneficial than detrimental to society."
"It is more important to allocate money for immediate, existing social
problems than to spend it on long-term research that might help future
"No field of study can advance significantly unless outsiders bring
their knowledge and experience to that field of study."
"A nation should require all its students to study the same national
curriculum until they enter college rather than allow schools in
different parts of the nation to determine which academic courses to
"The most effective way to understand contemporary culture is to analyze
the trends of its youth."
"The video camera provides such an accurate and convincing record of
contemporary life that it has become a more important form of
documentation than written records."
"It is often necessary, even desirable, for political leaders to
withhold information from the public."
"Academic disciplines have become so specialized in recent years that
scholars' ideas reach only a narrow audience. Until scholars can reach a
wider audience, their ideas will have little use."
"Governments must ensure that their major cities receive the financial
support they need in order to thrive, because it is primarily in cities
that a nation's cultural traditions are preserved and generated."
"All nations should help support the development of a global university
designed to engage students in the process of solving the world's most
persistent social problems."
"People's attitudes are determined more by their immediate situation or
surroundings than by any internal characteristic."
"Many of the world's lesser-known languages are being lost as fewer and
fewer people speak them. The governments of countries in which these
languages are spoken should act to prevent such languages from becoming
"It is necessary for everyone to read poetry, novels, mythology and
other types of imaginative literature."
"The stability of a society depends on how it responds to the extremes
of human behavior."
"Although many people think that the luxuries and conveniences of
contemporary life are entirely harmless, in fact, they actually prevent
people from developing into truly strong and independent individuals."
"There are two types of laws: just and unjust. Every individual in a
society has a responsibility to obey just laws and, even more
importantly, to disobey and resist unjust laws."
"Only by being forced to defend an idea against the doubts and
contrasting views of others does one really discover the value of that
"If a society is to thrive, it must put its own overall success before
the well-being of its individual citizens."
"National governments should devote more of their social programs and
services to children than to adults."
"Reform is seldom brought about by people who are concerned with their
own reputation and social standing. Those who are really in earnest
about reforming a government, an educational system, or any other
institution must be willing to be viewed with disdain by the rest of the
"Many people believe that a few individuals or small groups (family,
friends, teachers, celebrities, for example) have caused them to think
and behave in the way they do. Yet it is always society as a whole that
defines us and our attitudes, not a few individuals."
"Contemporary technology makes available many small pieces of factual
information. As a result, people have become so preoccupied with bits of
fragmented information that they pay too little attention to the larger
issues and overall perspectives."
"People in positions of power are most effective when they exercise
caution and restraint in the use of that power."
"Anyone can make things bigger and more complex. What requires real
effort and courage is to move in the opposite direction—in other words,
to make things as simple as possible."
"Most people would agree that buildings represent a valuable record of
any society's past, but controversy arises when old buildings stand on
ground that modern planners feel could be better used for modern
purposes. In such situations, modern development should be given
precedence over the preservation of historic buildings so that
contemporary needs can be served."
"No one can possibly achieve success in the world by conforming to
conventional practices and conventional ways of thinking."
"Students should memorize facts only after they have studied the ideas,
trends, and concepts that help explain those facts. Students who have
learned only facts have learned very little."
"Public figures such as actors, politicians, and athletes should expect
people to be interested in their private lives. When they seek a public
role, they should expect that they will lose at least some of their
"The primary goal of technological advancement should be to increase
people's efficiency so that everyone has more leisure time."
"Money spent on research is almost always a good investment, even when
the results of that research are controversial."
"A school or college should pay its teachers at the same rate in all
disciplines, regardless of differences in salaries for related fields in
the world outside of school. For example, entry-level teachers in
mathematics and in the arts should receive the same pay, even if outside
of school, math specialists earn a much higher salary on average than do
specialists in the arts."
"Creating an appealing image has become more important in contemporary
society than is the reality or truth behind that image."
"Instead of requiring students to take courses in a variety of
disciplines—that is, courses ranging from the arts and the humanities to
the physical and biological sciences—colleges and universities should
allow students to enroll only in those courses that will help prepare
them for jobs in their chosen fields. Such concentration is necessary in
today's increasingly work-oriented society."
"No matter what the situation, it is more harmful to compromise one's
beliefs than to adhere to them."
"The greatness of individuals can be decided only by those who live
after them, not by their contemporaries."
"In most societies, competition generally has more of a negative than a
"In the age of television, reading books is not as important as it once
was. People can learn as much by watching television as they can by
"The intellectual benefits of attending a university or college are
vastly overrated: most people could learn more by studying and reading
on their own for four years than by pursuing a university or college
"Scholars and researchers should not be concerned with whether their
work makes a contribution to the larger society. It is more important
that they pursue their individual interests, however unusual or
idiosyncratic those interests may seem."
"Such nonmainstream areas of inquiry as astrology, fortune-telling, and
psychic and paranormal pursuits play a vital role in society by
satisfying human needs that are not addressed by mainstream science."
"Because learning is not a solitary activity but one that requires
collaboration among people, students of all ages will benefit
academically if they work frequently in groups."
"To be an effective leader, a public official must maintain the highest
ethical and moral standards."
"Government should not fund any scientific research whose consequences,
either medical or ethical, are unclear."
"Government officials should rely on their own judgment rather than
unquestioningly carrying out the will of the people whom they serve."
"While some leaders in government, sports, industry, and other areas
attribute their success to a well-developed sense of competition, a
society can better prepare its young people for leadership by instilling
in them a sense of cooperation."
"Society does not place enough emphasis on the intellect—that is, on
reasoning and other cognitive skills."
"The study of history places too much emphasis on individuals. The most
significant events and trends in history were made possible not by the
famous few, but by groups of people whose identities have long been
"Imaginative works such as novels, plays, films, fairy tales, and
legends present a more accurate and meaningful picture of human
experience than do factual accounts. Because the creators of fiction
shape and focus reality rather than report on it literally, their
creations have a more lasting significance."
"In order to improve the quality of instruction at the college and
university level, all faculty should be required to spend time working
outside the academic world in professions relevant to the courses they
"Education will be truly effective only when it is specifically designed
to meet the individual needs and interests of each student."
"Education encourages students to question and criticize, and therefore
does little to promote social harmony."
"College and university education should be free for all students, fully
financed by the government."
"History teaches us only one thing: knowing about the past cannot help
people to make important decisions today."
"Competition for high grades seriously limits the quality of learning at
all levels of education."
"Governments should focus more on solving the immediate problems of
today rather than trying to solve the anticipated problems of the
"The depth of knowledge to be gained from books is much richer and
broader than what can be learned from direct experience."
"The increasingly rapid pace of life today causes more problems than it
"Too much emphasis is placed on role models. Instead of copying others,
people should learn to think and act independently and thus make the
choices that are best for them."
"The media—and society in general—mistakenly expect an individual to
speak for a particular group, whether or not that individual truly
represents the views of the entire group."
"High-profile awards such as the Nobel Prize are actually damaging to
society because they suggest that only a few people deserve such
"The widespread idea that people should make self-improvement a primary
goal in their lives is problematic because it assumes that people are
"To truly understand your own culture—no matter how you define
it—requires personal knowledge of at least one other culture, one that
is distinctly different from your own."
"Many people know how to attain success, but few know how to make the
best use of it."
"People have been so encouraged by society to focus on apparent
differences that they fail to see meaningful similarities among ideas,
individuals, and groups."
"As people rely more and more on technology to solve problems, the
ability of humans to think for themselves will surely deteriorate."
"Colleges should require students to engage in public-service activities
in order to assure that each student receives a balanced, well-rounded
"People make the mistake of treating experts with suspicion and
mistrust, no matter how valuable their contributions might be."
"Government should place few, if any, restrictions on scientific
research and development"
"In any profession—business, politics, education, government—those in
power should step down after five years. The surest path to success for
any enterprise is revitalization through new leadership."
"Spending time alone makes one a better companion to others."
"One can best understand the most important characteristics of a society
by studying its major cities."
"In most professions and academic fields, imagination is more important
"The most effective way to communicate an idea or value to large groups
of people is through the use of images, not language."
"The people who make important contributions to society are generally
not those who develop their own new ideas, but those who are most gifted
at perceiving and coordinating the talents and skills of others."
"Truly profound thinkers and highly creative artists are always out of
step with their time and their society."
"People today are too individualistic. Instead of pursuing
self-centered, separate goals, people need to understand that
satisfaction comes from working for the greater good of the family, the
community, or society as a whole."
"Schools should be required to teach the essential interconnectedness of
all human beings and thus help eliminate wars, cultural clashes, and
other forms of conflict."
"Major policy decisions should always be left to politicians and other
government experts, who are more informed and thus have better judgment
and perspective than do members of the general public."
"All students should be required to take courses in the sciences, even
if they have no interest in science."
"Patriotic reverence for the history of a nation often does more to
impede than to encourage progress."
"Government should never censor the artistic works or historical
displays that a museum wishes to exhibit."
"Government should preserve publicly owned wilderness areas in their
natural state, even though these areas are often extremely remote and
thus accessible to only a few people."
"In any field of endeavor, it is impossible to make a significant
contribution without first being strongly influenced by past
achievements within that field."
"Government funding of the arts threatens the integrity of the arts."
"Young people should be encouraged to pursue long-term, realistic goals
rather than seek immediate fame and recognition."
"In any field of inquiry, the beginner is more likely than the expert to
make important discoveries."
"Technologies not only influence but actually determine social customs
"Leaders are created primarily by the demands that are placed upon
"College students should be encouraged to pursue subjects that interest
them rather than seek programs that promise entry into the job market."
"Most people think that their deeply held values are the result of
rational choice, but reason often has little to do with the way people
"In any academic area or professional field, it is just as important to
recognize the limits of our knowledge and understanding as it is to
acquire new facts and information."
"The concept of 'individual responsibility' is a necessary fiction.
Although societies must hold individuals accountable for their own
actions, people's behavior is largely determined by forces not of their
"Universities should require every student to take a variety of courses
outside the student's field of study because acquiring knowledge of
various academic disciplines is the best way to become truly educated."
"People work more productively in teams than individually. Teamwork
requires cooperation, which motivates people much more than individual
"Although, critics who write about the arts tend to deny the existence
of any objective standards for evaluating works of art, they have a
responsibility to establish standards by which works of art can be
"It is unfortunate but true that political decisions and activities
affect all aspects of people's lives."
"Colleges and universities should offer more courses on popular music,
film, advertising, and television because contemporary culture has much
greater relevance for students than do arts and literature of the past."
"In any realm of life—whether academic, social, business, or
political—the only way to succeed is to take a practical, rather than an
idealistic, point of view. Pragmatic behavior guarantees survival,
whereas idealistic views tend to be superceded by simpler, more
"The pressure to achieve high grades in school seriously limits the
quality of learning. An educational environment without grades would
promote more genuine intellectual development."
"Governments should provide funding for artists so that the arts can
flourish and be available to all people."
"For better or worse, education is a process that involves revising the
ideas, beliefs, and values people held in the past."
"The study of history has value only to the extent that it is relevant
to our daily lives."
"It is primarily through formal education that a culture tries to
perpetuate the ideas it favors and discredit the ideas it fears."
"The true strength of a country is best demonstrated by the willingness
of its government to tolerate challenges from it's own citizens."
"All students should be required to take at least one course in ethics,
even if taking the course means a decreased emphasis on academic
"Instant communication systems encourage people to form hasty opinions
and give quick replies rather than take the time to develop thoughtful,
well-reasoned points of view."
"In many countries it is now possible to turn on the television and view
government at work. Watching these proceedings can help people
understand the issues that affect their lives. The more kinds of
government proceedings—trials, debates, meetings, etc—that are
televised, the more society will benefit."
"The purpose of many advertisements is to make consumers want to buy a
product so that they will 'be like' the person in the ad. This practice
is effective because it not only sells products but also helps people
feel better about themselves."
"When we concern ourselves with the study of history, we become
storytellers. Because we can never know the past directly but must
construct it by interpreting evidence, exploring history is more of a
creative enterprise than it is an objective pursuit. All historians are
"The worldwide distribution of television programs and advertisements is
seriously diminishing the differences among cultures."
"Some educational systems emphasize the development of students'
capacity for reasoning and logical thinking, but students would benefit
more from an education that also taught them to explore their own
"It is primarily through our identification with social groups that we
"Humanity has made little real progress over the past century or so.
Technological innovations have taken place, but the overall condition of
humanity is no better. War, violence, and poverty are still with us.
Technology cannot change the condition of humanity."
"It is through the use of logic and of precise, careful measurement that
we become aware of our progress. Without such tools, we have no
reference points to indicate how far we have advanced or retreated."
"With the growth of global networks in such areas as economics and
communication, there is no doubt that every aspect of society—including
education, politics, the arts, and the sciences—will benefit greatly
from international influences."
"In any field of endeavor—the sciences, the humanities, the social
sciences, industry, etc.—it is not the attainment of a goal that
matters, but rather the ideas and discoveries that are encountered on
the way to the goal."
"When research priorities are being set for science, education, or any
other area, the most important question to consider is: How many
people's lives will be improved if the results are successful?"
"So much is new and complex today that looking back for an understanding
of the past provides little guidance for living in the present."
"At various times in the geological past, many species have become
extinct as a result of natural, rather than human, processes. Thus,
there is no justification for society to make extraordinary efforts,
especially at a great cost in money and jobs, to save endangered
"We owe almost all our knowledge not to people who have agreed, but to
people who have disagreed."
"It is possible to identify a person's politics within a very short time
of meeting him or her. Everything about people—their clothes, their
friends, the way they talk, what they eat—reflects their political
"Instant foods, instant communication, faster transportation-all of
these recent developments are designed to save time. Ironically, though,
instead of making more leisure time available, these developments have
contributed to a pace of human affairs that is more rushed and more
frantic than ever before."
"The past is no predictor of the future."
"Society's external rewards are no measure of true success. True success
can be measured only in relation to the goals one sets for oneself."
"Facts are stubborn things. They cannot be altered by our wishes, our
inclinations, or the dictates of our passions."
"It is often asserted that the purpose of education is to free the mind
and the spirit. In reality, however, formal education tends to restrain
our minds and spirits rather than set them free."
"Technology is a necessary but not always a positive force in modern
"How children are socialized today determines the destiny of society.
Unfortunately, we have not yet learned how to raise children who can
help bring about a better society."
"The arts (painting, music, literature, etc.) reveal the otherwise
hidden ideas and impulses of a society."
"The university community consists of three different worlds—the
sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences. Because each world
operates on its own assumptions and has its own special habits of
thinking, rarely is there meaningful interaction among the sciences, the
humanities, and the social sciences."
"The problems of modern society have led many people to complain: 'We
live in terrible times.' Yet, given the choice, no one today would
prefer to live in any other time."
"Students should be encouraged to realize that mental agility and
rhetorical skill must be accompanied by sincerity and the true
conviction of their own beliefs."
"While most of the environmental problems we face result from the use of
technology, society must depend upon technology to find solutions to
"The absence of choice is a circumstance that is very, very rare."
"What we call progress is a matter of exchanging one problem for
"Only through mistakes can there be discovery or progress."
"Every new generation needs to redefine 'right' and 'wrong' in its own
terms and according to the conditions of its own time."
"What society has thought to be its greatest social, political, and
individual achievements have often resulted in the greatest discontent."
"Most people recognize the benefits of individuality, but the fact is
that personal economic success requires conformity."
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