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13 Inspirational Quotes and Why They Are Bullshit

#1: Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve. – Napoleon Hill

There absolutely exists impossible ideas that we can convince of and believe as flawed decision makers. If you were somewhat deranged, you could potentially believe that you could physically become the late Michael Jackson, but that brings you no closer to resurrecting and embodying his entity.

There are people that, even to this day, honestly believe that if they blow up other people along with themselves, they will be sent to a magical land with an unreasonable amount of virgin concubines. I truly hope that we can all agree that this will not be the case.

#2: You cannot save people, you can just love them. – Anaïs Nin

If this were true, nobody would ever do anything for anyone in dire need. If we were inherently unable to "save" people, altruistic non-profits and philanthropists would not exist. Sure, on some level, you can say that these entities do "love" these people, but they are indeed also saving them. Love and assistance are not mutually exclusive concepts. For that single reason, the premise of this quote is fundamentally flawed. Join me in rejecting its sentiment.

#3: Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it. – Charles Swindoll

There are currently 239 million starving Sub-Saharan African people that would disagree with this statement. Even if they all made of the correct reactions to their predicament, their life would not resemble a 90% similarity to my life. Yes, there are cases where people have risen up by their own bootstraps, but claiming these examples as evidence would be a fallacy of sample size. The vast majority of people on this Earth are affected more by their origin than their decisions. We should be doing something about that instead of writing cute little one-liners that offshore responsibility.

#4: Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement. – W. Clement Stone

People discover and invent things out of pure random chance all the time. The microwave was invented because Percy Spencer's candy bar just melted in his pocket. Penicillin was discovered when Alexander Fleming left a petri dish on some old map when he went away on vacation. Superglue was first intended to be a replacement for metal in weapons manufacturing.

The pinnacle of science is not knowing what we are going for, but keeping our minds open, knowing something perfectly rad awaits our discovery. As Carl Sagan said, "somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known."

#5: Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. – Henry Ford

We already covered being wrong about an affirmative, but it also works the other way. Stating that something is outside the realm of possibility is not an inherently false statement. Some things are impossible. I realize this type of pragmatism is unpopular, but it is more responsible and more accurately describes reality.

Tyler Durden said it best in the cult classic Fight Club, "we've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won't. And we're slowly learning that fact. And we're very, very pissed off." Pissed off, sure, but at least we have the means to more accurately strive for attainable goals.

#6: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you – Someone who misquoted Jesus

We need to do more than ask for things to receive them. This type of rejection of responsibility is absolutely deplorable. Even if we search or work our entire lives, there is no assurance that we will achieve. Sure, we like to assume that one day we will attain our goals, but working towards them is only a means to increase the possibility, not a flat out guarantee.

Albert Einstein's cosmological constant wasn't supported until after his death, he even called it the "biggest blunder of [his] life." Nobody believed Robert Goddard's ideas on advanced rocketry had merit until after he died, now his principles are widely accepted. Thomas Edison is credited with creating 1000+ inventions that just didn't work. You can say that he did achieve some pretty awesome stuff, but I'm thinking there are a few in there that he's pretty bummed didn't work out. Imagine how rad our world would be if he was finally able to finish those insane contraptions.

#7: Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. – George Addair

There are things that we want that aren't on the other side of anything. Some things are impossible. I feel like I've driven that point home enough. Furthermore, there are plenty of other obstacles standing between you and your desires. Fear is not the only contributor to discontent. There is also lack of means, socioeconomic barricades, governmental laws, the laws of physics, and a host of other phenomenon that have nothing to do with fear, but still hold us back.

#8: With God all things are possible. – Mark 10:27

Can god create a stone so heavy that even he can't lift it? Either way, there is an impossibility that is irrevocably linked with that question. Can god disprove the existence of god? If he says yes, he exists, and is wrong. If he says no, he is admitting an impossibility. Some things are just impossible. It happens when you try to self-affirm a negative, and it happens a lot in reality.

Even if most things are technically possible, that says nothing about their probability of happening. Just because something is possible, doesn't mean it will ever actually happen, it could be indiscriminately close to a zero chance. When we begin to realize this fact, we can start taking responsibility for reality.

#9: You become what you believe. – Oprah Winfrey

I believe that the Universe was created in the Big Bang. That doesn't mean I will become a Big Bang. Maybe she means that you will become what you believe you will become. I still don't agree with that amended version. Believing that you will achieve something will cause you to strive harder for that thing. This is what is causing the probability to increase, hard work, not belief itself.

Moreover, working hard isn't even sufficient to insure the definite realization of your dreams, you also probably have to get a bit lucky. People who say you make your own luck do not understand statistics. This could probably be it's own refuted quote.

#10: You will succeed because most people are lazy. – Shahir Zag

A vast quantity of the richest and most successful people in the world are lazy and unintelligent. They get this way by being extremely well connected and lucky. This makes it incredibly difficult and disincentivizing for hard working people to strive for greatness. They are not lazy, calling them so is an ill-founded and irrational insult. Most people have been let down by failing social infrastructure. If they had the means to more easily become successful, they would have done so. Just because someone works hard does not make them automatically successful, especially in a world consisting of an increasingly large disenfranchised lower class.

#11: Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life. – Someone misquoting Buddha

First of all, Buddhism is a non-theistic religion, which means they do not believe in a god. Take a moment to look this up. Now, in light of this new information, if we reanalyze the quote as just saying "have some sort of introspective aspect to your life," then I am totally cool with that. I still don't believe it is absolutely necessary to live. Where I absolutely don't agree is when we define this introspection as spirituality, a word which colloquially implies connection with a higher being or deity. This seems to conflict with the overall message of the religion for which Siddhartha was later renamed (yes, to Buddha).

#12: Faith is to believe what we do not see, and the reward of this faith is to see what we believe. – Augustine

This statement is essentially technically true, but this does nothing to change actual reality, which is what matters. This is basically a poster child for circular logic. All it is really saying is, "you will think what you think." This is a very counterproductive way to live one's life. Subscribing to blind faith makes you just that, blind to things that would otherwise change your mind to certain aspects of this world. If we do not live our lives in a rationally malleable way, we will become stagnant as a species. That is not the future in which I want to live.

#13: Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” – Audrey Hepburn

Cute coincidences aside, I hope you now know enough to refute this one for yourself.

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