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conjecture
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Proverbs, aphorisms, quotations (English) by Linux fortune

In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Mississippi has
shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles.  Therefore ... in the Old
Silurian Period the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred
thousand miles long ... seven hundred and forty-two years from now the
Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long.  ... There is
something fascinating about science.  One gets such wholesome returns of
conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
                -- Mark Twain
"What a wonder is USENET; such wholesale production of conjecture from
such a trifling investment in fact."
-- Carl S. Gutekunst
Conjecture: All odd numbers are prime.
        Mathematician's Proof:
                3 is prime.  5 is prime.  7 is prime.  By induction, all
                odd numbers are prime.
        Physicist's Proof:
                3 is prime.  5 is prime.  7 is prime.  9 is experimental
                error.  11 is prime.  13 is prime ...
        Engineer's Proof:
                3 is prime.  5 is prime.  7 is prime.  9 is prime.
                11 is prime.  13 is prime ...
        Computer Scientists's Proof:
                3 is prime.  3 is prime.  3 is prime.  3 is prime...
We laugh at the Indian philosopher, who to account for the support
of the earth, contrived the hypothesis of a huge elephant, and to support
the elephant, a huge tortoise.  If we will candidly confess the truth, we
know as little of the operation of the nerves, as he did of the manner in
which the earth is supported: and our hypothesis about animal spirits, or
about the tension and vibrations of the nerves, are as like to be true, as
his about the support of the earth.  His elephant was a hypothesis, and our
hypotheses are elephants.  Every theory in philosophy, which is built on
pure conjecture, is an elephant; and every theory that is supported partly
by fact, and partly by conjecture, is like Nebuchadnezzar's image, whose
feet were partly of iron, and partly of clay.
                -- Thomas Reid, "An Inquiry into the Human Mind", 1764
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