Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"One's own incompetence is a difficult fact to accept." - Terry M. Townsend

"Mistakes, even occasional incompetence, could be understood and forgiven, but not disloyalty." - Joseph Anthony Califano, Jr.

"[The Depression] is not a crisis of poverty, but a crisis of abundance. It is not the harshness and the niggardliness of nature which are oppressing us, but our own incompetence and wrong-headedness which hinder us from making use of the bountifulness of inventive science and cause us to be overwhelmed by its generous fruits." - John Maynard Keynes

"Competence always contains the seeds of incompetence." - Laurence J. Peter, fully Laurence Johnston Peter

"[The Peter Principle] In a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence." - Laurence J. Peter, fully Laurence Johnston Peter

"Cliques… are like dry rot in the administration… Every clique is a refuge for incompetence. It fosters corruption and disloyalty, it begets cowardice, and consequently is a burden upon and a drawback to the progress of the country. Its instincts and actions are those of the pack." -

"Never ascribe to malice, that which can be explained by incompetence." - Napoleon Bonaparte, Napoleon I

"We all have a vast number of areas in which we have no talent or skill and little chance of becoming even mediocre. In those areas a knowledge workers should not take on work, jobs and assignments. It takes far more energy to improve from incompetence to mediocrity than it takes to improve from first-rate performance to excellence. " - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"It takes far less energy to move from first-rate performance to excellence than it does to move from incompetence to mediocrity." - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"If for every error and every act of incompetence one can substitute an act of treason, many points of fascinating interpretation are open to the paranoid imagination." - Richard Hofstadter

"Once the justices depart, as most of them have, from the original understanding of the principles of the Constitution, they lack any guidance other than their own attempts at moral philosophy, a task for which they have not even minimal skills. Yet when it rules in the name of the Constitution, whether it rules truly or not, the Court is the most powerful branch of government in domestic policy. The combination of absolute power, disdain for the historic Constitution, and philosophical incompetence is lethal." - Robert Bork, fully Robert Heron Bork

"Nothing is more curious and awkward than the relationship of two people who only know each other with their eyes — who meet and observe each other daily, even hourly and who keep up the impression of disinterest either because of morals or because of a mental abnormality. Between them there is listlessness and pent-up curiosity, the hysteria of an unsatisfied, unnaturally suppressed need for communion and also a kind of tense respect. Because man loves and honors man as long as he is not able to judge him, and desire is a product of lacking knowledge." - Thomas Mann, fully Paul Thomas Mann

"We already have the Wooden Pillar, the Steel Pillar and the Plastic Pillar. In a moment we will have the Golden Bail... No, you won't.' We will,' stated the robot simply. No, you won't. It makes my ship work.' In a moment,' repeated the robot patiently, 'we will have the Golden Bail... You will not,' said Zaphod. And then we must go,' said the robot, in all seriousness, 'to a party.' Oh,' said Zaphod, startled, 'can I come?' No,' said the robot, 'we are going to shoot you.' Oh, yeah?' said Zaphod, waggling his gun. Yes,' said the robot, and they shot him. Zaphod was so surprised that they had to shoot him again before he fell down." - Douglas Adams, fully Douglas Noel Adams

"There is only one thing to do — take it to the country!" - Eugene McCarthy, fully Eugene Joseph "Gene" McCarthy