Quotation for the week: Galileo

The great Galileo Galilei should need no introduction. Here he is in typically combative form, on the subject of being told what to do by nitwits:

And who can doubt that it will lead to the worst disorders when minds created free by God are compelled to submit slavishly to an outside will? When we are told to deny our senses and subject them to the whim of others? When people devoid of whatsoever competence are made judges over experts and are granted authority to treat them as they please? These are the novelties which are apt to bring about the ruin of commonwealths and the subversion of the state.

Galileo Galilei [on the margin of his own copy of Dialogue on the Great World Systems]. Quoted in J R Newman, The World of Mathematics (1956), p. 733.

When Galileo was professor of mathematics in Padua, one of his main duties was teaching medical students how to cast horoscopes. University maths teaching has become a more meaningful occupation since then…


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