William Butler Yeats? Bertrand Russell? Charles Bukowski?
Dear Quote Investigator: Have you ever been absolutely certain about a fact and later determined that you were completely wrong? If you learn from that experience you become less arrogant and more empathetic. I wish more people would achieve this form of personal growth. Here are three versions of a relevant saying:
The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.
The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent full of doubt.
This thought has been linked to the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet W. B. Yeats, the prominent British philosopher Bertrand Russell, and the notable American writer Charles Bukowski. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: The three individuals you mentioned each expressed different versions of this idea, and detailed citations are given below.
In 1920 W. B. Yeats published the poem “The Second Coming”, and the final two lines of the first section presented an instance of the saying. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1
The Second Coming
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.