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Quotations about Conformity

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Every society honors its live conformists, and its dead troublemakers.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

Don't think you're on the right road just because itís a well-beaten path.  ~Author Unknown

Most people are more comfortable with old problems than with new solutions.  ~Author Unknown

Stubborness does have its helpful features.  You always know what you are going to be thinking tomorrow.  ~Glen Beaman

Read, every day, something no one else is reading.  Think, every day, something no one else is thinking.  Do, every day, something no one else would be silly enough to do.  It is bad for the mind to continually be part of unanimity.  ~Christopher Morley

You don't get harmony when everybody sings the same note.  ~Doug Floyd

The reward for conformity was that everyone liked you except yourself.  ~Rita Mae Brown, Venus Envy

A "Normal" person is the sort of person that might be designed by a committee.  You know, "Each person puts in a pretty color and it comes out gray."  ~Alan Sherman

Labels are for filing.  Labels are for clothing.  Labels are not for people.  ~Martina Navratilova

The average man is a conformist, accepting miseries and disasters with the stoicism of a cow standing in the rain.  ~Colin Wilson

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.  ~Dr. Seuss

A man must consider what a rich realm he abdicates when he becomes a conformist.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Nature made us individuals, as she did the flowers and the pebbles; but we are afraid to be peculiar, and so our society resembles a bag of marbles, or a string of mold candles.  Why should we all dress after the same fashion?  The frost never paints my windows twice alike.  ~Lydia Maria Child

Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities.  The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary.  ~Albert Einstein

In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.  ~Bertrand Russell

Not all those who wander are lost.  ~J.R.R. Tolkien

You have enemies?  Good.  That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.  ~Winston Churchill

We are half ruined by conformity; but we should be wholly ruined without it.  ~Charles Dudley Warner

Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.  ~Voltaire

The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.  ~J.K. Galbraith

The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me.  The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.  ~George Bernard Shaw

What this country needs is radicals who will stay that way regardless of the creeping years.  ~John Fischer

With the pride of the artist, you must blow against the walls of every power that exists the small trumpet of your defiance.  ~Norman Mailer

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.  ~Mark Twain

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.  If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened.  But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche

New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.  ~John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Doubt is healthy.  It tests one's convictions.  ~From the movie Haunted

Before you can break out of prison, you must first realize you're locked up.  ~Author Unknown

Ain't no man can avoid being average, but there ain't no man got to be common.  ~Satchel Paige

One who walks in another's tracks leaves no footprints.  ~Proverb

Be neither a conformist or a rebel, for they are really the same thing.  Find your own path, and stay on it.  ~Paul Vixie

I may not be different, but I'm definitely not the same.  ~William J. Dybus

It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.  ~Herman Melville

We need - and should encourage and honour - not only discoverers of facts hitherto unknown but explorers of ideas and rethinkers of values.  ~Walter Moberly, The Crisis in the University

If you don't control your mind, someone else will.  ~John Allston

In the moment of our creation we receive the stamp of our individuality; and much of life is spent in rubbing off or defacing the impression.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.  ~Stephen A. Kallis, Jr.

To be dragged in the wake of the passive flock and to pass a hundred and one times beneath the shears of the shepherd, or to die alone like a brave eagle on a rocky crag of a great mountain: that is the dilemma.  ~Praxedis Guerrero, RegeneraciÓn, 18 February 1911

I guess I've spent my life listening to what wasn't being said.  ~Eli Khamarov, America Explained!

Human beings, for all their pretensions, have a remarkable propensity for lending themselves to classification somewhere within neatly labeled categories.  Even the outrageous exceptions may be classified as outrageous exceptions!  ~W.J. Reichmann

I respect faith, but doubt is what gets you an education.  ~Wilson Mizner

When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.  ~Eric Hoffer, Passionate State of Mind, 1955

If you keep doing things like you've always done them, what you'll get is what you've already got.  ~Author Unknown

When I was four years old they tried to test my IQ, they showed me this picture of three oranges and a pear.  They asked me which one is different and does not belong, they taught me different was wrong.  ~Ani Difranco

Custom will reconcile people to any atrocity; and fashion will drive them to acquire any custom.  ~George Bernard Shaw

What we call human nature in actuality is human habit.  ~Jewel Kilcher, Pieces of You

It's a rash man who reaches a conclusion before he gets to it.  ~Jacob Levin

Just think of the tragedy of teaching children not to doubt.  ~Clarence Darrow

Forgive him, for he believes that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Never accept the proposition that just because a solution satisfies a problem, that it must be the only solution.  ~Raymond E. Feist

The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.  ~Friedrich Nietzsche, The Dawn, 1881

Finding the occasional straw of truth awash in a great ocean of confusion and bamboozle requires intelligence, vigilance, dedication and courage.  But if we don't practice these tough habits of thought, we cannot hope to solve the truly serious problems that face us - and we risk becoming a nation of suckers, up for grabs by the next charlatan who comes along.  ~Carl Sagan, The Fine Art of Baloney Detection

My theory is that the hardest work anyone does in life is to appear normal.  ~From the movie Ed TV

I don't rent space to anyone in my head.  ~Anonymous man on Candid Camera, answering Allen Funt's question about why he had not gotten upset

Only dead fish swim with the stream.  ~Malcolm Muggeridge

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.  Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.  ~G.B. Shaw, Man and Superman, 1903

Just because something is tradition doesn't make it right.  ~Anthony J. D'Angelo, The College Blue Book

And what is a good citizen?  Simply one who never says, does or thinks anything that is unusual.  Schools are maintained in order to bring this uniformity up to the highest possible point.  A school is a hopper into which children are heaved while they are still young and tender; therein they are pressed into certain standard shapes and covered from head to heels with official rubber-stamps.  ~H.L. Mencken

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.  ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Those who stand for nothing fall for anything.  ~Alexander Hamilton

I am not in this world to live up to other people's expectations, nor do I feel that the world must live up to mine.  ~Fritz Perls

One dog barks at something, and a hundred bark at the bark.  ~Chinese Proverb

Common experience shows how much rarer is moral courage than physical bravery.  A thousand men will march to the mouth of the cannon where one man will dare espouse an unpopular cause.  ~Clarence Darrow, Resist Not Evil

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.  ~Anatole France

Fashion is what you adopt when you don't know who you are.  ~Quentin Crisp

Heresies are experiments in man's unsatisfied search for truth.  ~H.G. Wells, Crux Ansata

Fashion is more powerful than any tyrant.  ~Latin Proverb

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it - even if I have said it - unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.  ~Buddha

All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.  ~Adlai Stevenson, speech, Princeton, 1954

If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.  ~Juan Ramon Jimenez

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery
None but ourselves can free our minds.
~Bob Marley

The fastest way to succeed is to look as if you're playing by other people's rules, while quietly playing by your own.  ~Michael Korda

I can't understand why people are frightened of new ideas.  I'm frightened of the old ones.  ~John Cage

You cannot make a man by standing a sheep on its hind-legs.  But by standing a flock of sheep in that position you can make a crowd of men.  ~Max Beerbohm

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.  ~Albert Camus

No man can cause more grief than that one clinging blindly to the vices of his ancestors.  ~William Faulkner

No.  ~President Jimmy Carter's daughter Amy, when asked if she had any message for the children of America

People still retain the errors of their childhood, their nation, and their age, long after they have accepted the truths needed to refute them.  ~Condorcet, Progress of the Human Mind, 1794

I believe more follies are committed out of complaisance to the world, than in following our own inclinations.  ~Mary Wortley Montagu

The eager and often inconsiderate appeals of reformers and revolutionists are indispensable to counterbalance the inertia and fossilism marking so large a part of human institutions.  ~Walt Whitman, Democratic Vistas, 1871

The number of those who undergo the fatigue of judging for themselves is very small indeed.  ~Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Critic, 1799

There are some men who turn a deaf ear to reason and good advice, and willfully go wrong for fear of being controlled.  ~La Bruyère, Characters, 1688

It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Self-Reliance," 1841

The most damaging phrase in the language is:  "It's always been done that way."  ~Grace Hopper

A lawyer's brief will be brief, before a freethinker thinks freely.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare, Guesses at Truth, by Two Brothers, 1827

Public opinion is a compound of folly, weakness, prejudice, wrong feeling, right feeling, obstinacy, and newspaper paragraphs.  ~Robert Peel

The marvelous rebellion of man at all signs reading "Keep Off."  ~Carl Sandburg

Habit rules the unreflecting herd.  ~William Wordsworth, Ecclesiastical Sonnets, 1822

The minority, the ruling class at present, has the schools and press, usually the Church as well, under its thumb.  This enables it to organize and sway the emotions of the masses, and make its tool of them.  ~Albert Einstein, letter to Sigmund Freud, 30 July 1932

The strongest man in the world is he who stands alone.  ~Henrik Ibsen

If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn't thinking.  ~George S. Patton

Yield to all and you will soon have nothing to yield.  ~Aesop, "The Man and His Two Wives," Fables

Conformity is that jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.  ~John F. Kennedy

Our concern must be to live while we're alive... to release our inner selves from the spiritual death that comes with living behind a facade designed to conform to external definitions of who and what we are.  ~Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

Every man is a reformer until reform tramps on his toes.  ~Edgar Watson Howe, Country Town Sayings, 1911

Most of the things we do, we do for no better reason than that our fathers have done them or that our neighbors do them, and the same is true of a larger part than we suspect of what we think.  ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Do not quench your inspiration and your imagination; do not become the slave of your model.  ~Vincent Van Gogh

I had an immense advantage over many others dealing with the problem inasmuch as I had no fixed ideas derived from long-established practice to control and bias my mind, and did not suffer from the general belief that whatever is, is right.  ~Henry Bessemer (discovered new method of producing steel)

If you believe everything you read, you better not read.  ~Japanese Proverb

I merely observe that all living things are manipulated.  As long as there is a will, it is bent and twisted constantly.  Only the dead are allowed the luxury of freedom, and then only because they want nothing, and therefore can't be thwarted.  ~Orson Scott Card

You cannot be both fashionable and first-rate.  ~Logan Pearsall Smith

One of the greatest pains to human nature is the pain of a new idea.  ~Walter Bagehot

Public opinion... requires us to think other men's thoughts, to speak other men's words, to follow other men's habits.  ~Walter Bagehot, Biographical Studies, 1907

Unless one decorates one's house for oneself alone, best leave it bare, for other people are walleyed.  ~D.H. Lawrence

We begin life with the world presenting itself to us as it is.  Someone - our parents, teachers, analysts - hypnotizes us to "see" the world and construe it in the "right" way.  These others label the world, attach names and give voices to the beings and events in it, so that thereafter, we cannot read the world in any other language or hear it saying other things to us.  The task is to break the hypnotic spell, so that we become undeaf, unblind and multilingual, thereby letting the world speak to us in new voices and write all its possible meanings in the new book of our existence.  Be careful in your choice of hypnotists.  ~Sidney Jourard

I'm not sure I want popular opinion on my side - I've noticed those with the most opinions often have the fewest facts.  ~Bethania McKenstry

But it is just when opinions universally prevail and we have added lip service to their authority that we become sometimes most keenly conscious that we do not believe a word that we are saying.  ~Virginia Woolf

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.  ~Jonathan Swift

Every man who is truly a man must learn to be alone in the midst of all the others, and if need be against all the others.  ~Romain Rolland

Minorities are the stars of the firmament; majorities, the darkness in which they float.  ~Martin H. Fischer

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 will of others?  ~Galileo Galilei

Man is a gregarious animal, and much more so in his mind than in his body.  He may like to go alone for a walk, but he hates to stand alone in his opinions.  ~George Santayana

We must not overlook the role that extremists play.  They are the gadflies that keep society from being too complacent.  ~Abraham Flexner, Universities, 1930

At the bottom of a good deal of bravery... lurks a miserable cowardice.  Men will face powder and steel because they cannot face public opinion.  ~E.H. Chapin

The plague of mankind is the fear and rejection of diversity:  monotheism, monarchy, monogamy and, in our age, monomedicine.  The belief that there is only one right way to live, only one right way to regulate religious, political, sexual, medical affairs is the root cause of the greatest threat to man:  members of his own species, bent on ensuring his salvation, security, and sanity.  ~Thomas Szasz

If you want to look like the people next door, you're probably smothering yourself and your dreams.  ~Clive Barker

How glorious it is - and also how painful - to be an exception.  ~Alfred de Musset

Orthodoxy:  That peculiar condition where the patient can neither eliminate an old idea nor absorb a new one.  ~Elbert Hubbard, The Note-Book, 1927

If you do not agree with the prevalent point of view, be ready to explain why.  ~Martin H. Fischer

The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful, is the cause of half their errors.  ~John Stuart Mill

We submit to the majority because we have to.  But we are not compelled to call our attitude of subjection a posture of respect.  ~Ambrose Bierce, Epigrams

Mental slavery is mental death, and every man who has given up his intellectual freedom is the living coffin of his dead soul.  ~Robert Ingersoll, Individuality

Here in America we are descended in spirit from revolutionists and rebels - men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine.  ~Dwight D. Eisenhower, address, Columbia University, 31 May 1954

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking.  ~Alfred North Whitehead

I believe in rules.  Sure I do.  If there weren't any rules, how could you break them?  ~Leo Durocher

He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.  He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.  ~Albert Einstein

Never assume the obvious is true.  ~William Safire, Sleeper Spy

We all live in the protection of certain cowardices which we call our principles.  ~Mark Twain

Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.  ~Mark Twain

History does not teach fatalism.  There are moments when the will of a handful of free men breaks through determinism and opens up new roads.  People get the history they deserve.  ~Charles de Gaulle

Every man prefers belief to the exercise of judgment.  ~Seneca

I don't necessarily agree with everything I say.  ~Marshall McLuhan

They will say that you are on the wrong road, if it is your own.  ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

The good, say the mystics of spirit, is God, a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive - a definition that invalidates man's consciousness and nullifies his concepts of existence.  The good, say the mystics of muscle, is Society - a thing which they define as an organism that possesses no physical form, a super-being embodied in no one in particular and everyone in general except yourself.... The purpose of man's life, say both, is to become an abject zombie who serves a purpose he does not know, for reasons he is not to question.  ~Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 1957 (Thanks, Mary)

Traditions are group efforts to keep the unexpected from happening.  ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960

History is particularly important in throwing light on the source of our attitudes about sex because many of the assumptions we make are not necessarily scientific or rational but holdovers of past belief systems that are no longer held by modern society.  ~Vern Bullough

If there is anything the nonconformist hates worse than a conformist it's another nonconformist who doesn't conform to the prevailing standards of nonconformity.  ~Bill Vaughan

Men will sooner surrender their rights than their customs.  ~Moritz Guedemann

I try not to break the rules, but merely to test their elasticity.  ~Bill Veeck

If you obey all the rules you miss all the fun.  ~Katherine Hepburn

To be a genuine individualist requires a great deal of strength and courage.  It is never easy to chart new territory, to cross new frontiers, or to introduce subtle shadings to an established color.  ~Toller Cranston

My manner of thinking, so you say, cannot be approved.  Do you suppose I care?  A poor fool indeed is he who adopts a manner of thinking for others!  My manner of thinking stems straight from my considered reflections; it holds with my existence, with the way I am made.  It is not in my power to alter it; and were it, I'd not do so.  ~Donatien Alphonse Francois de Sade

When some folks agree with my opinions I begin to suspect I'm wrong.  ~Kin Hubbard

Custom meets us at the cradle and leaves us only at the tomb.  ~Robert Ingersoll, Individuality

If you see in any given situation only what everybody else can see, you can be said to be so much a representative of your culture that you are a victim of it.  ~S.I. Hayakawa

You laugh at me because I am different; I laugh because you are all the same.  ~Daniel Knode

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.  ~Samuel Butler, Notebooks, 1912

Consistency is contrary to nature, contrary to life.  The only completely consistent people are the dead.  ~Aldous Huxley

Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.  ~Bernard Berenson, Notebook, 1892

The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well.  ~Foe Ancis

Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.  ~Henry David Thoreau, Walden, 1854

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.  ~George Bernard Shaw

My uncle ordered popovers
from the restaurant's bill of fare.
And, when they were served,
he regarded them with a penetrating stare.
Then he spoke great words of wisdom
as he sat there on that chair:
"To eat these things," said my uncle,
"You must exercise great care.
You may swallow down what's solid,
but you must spit out the air!"
And as you partake of the world's bill of fare,
that's darned good advice to follow.
Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
And be careful what you swallow.
~Theodore Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss), from a commencement address

What makes you think that human beings are sentient and aware?  There's no evidence for it.  Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable.  For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told - and become upset if they are exposed to any different view.  The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare.  Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their "beliefs."  The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings.  But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all.  We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists.  Any other view of our species is a self-congratulatory delusion.  ~Michael Crichton, The Lost World

Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was.  ~Margaret Mitchell

A new idea is delicate.  It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip, and worried to death by a frown on the right man's brow.  ~Charlie Brower

I feel like a fugitive from the law of averages.  ~William H. Mauldin

All lies and jests, still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.  ~Paul Simon

Men get opinions as boys learn to spell,
By reiteration chiefly.
~Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Aurora Leigh, 1856

False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing.  ~Joseph De Maistre

From now on, I'll connect the dots my own way.  ~Bill Watterson, Calvin & Hobbes

I am not eccentric.  It's just that I am more alive than most people.  I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of goldfish.  ~Dame Edith Sitwell

I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year's fashions.  ~Lillian Hellman

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