The force of prejudice

When I compare my last discoveries–relating to the constitution of the atmosphere–with the first, I see the closest and easiest connexion in the world between them, so as to wonder that I should not have been led immediately from the one to the other. That this was not the case, I attribute to the force of prejudice, which unknown to ourselves, biases not only our judgments, properly so called, but even the perception of our senses: for we may take a maxim so strongly for granted, that the plainest evidence of sense will not entirely change, and often hardly modify, our persuasions; and the more ingenious a man is, the more effectually he is entangled in his errors, his ingenuity only helping him to deceive himself, by evading the force of truth.

Joseph Priestley

Gibbs, F.W., 1965. Joseph Priestley: Adventurer in Science and Champion of Truth, p. 119. Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. London, as cited in: Gaither, C.C. and Cavazos-Gaither, A.E., 2008. Gaither’s Dictionary of Scientific Quotations. ISBN: 978-0-387-49575-0. Springer.


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