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jonas salk Quotes

Jonas Salk Quotes

Birth Date: 1914-10-28 (Wednesday, October 28th, 1914)
Date of Death: 1995-06-23 (Friday, June 23rd, 1995)


jonas salk life timeline

Jonas Salk announces his polio vaccine.Thursday, March 26th, 1953
The polio vaccine, developed by Dr. Jonas Salk, is declared safe and effective.Tuesday, April 12th, 1955
The polio vaccine developed by Jonas Salk is made available to the public.Tuesday, May 1st, 1956


    • Edward R. Murrow: Who owns the patent on this vaccine? Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?
    • It is courage based on confidence, not daring, and it is confidence based on experience.
    • I feel that the greatest reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.
    • Why did Mozart compose music?
    • Nothing happens quite by chance. It's a question of accretion of information and experience ... it's just chance that I happened to be here at this particular time when there was available and at my disposal the great experience of all the investigators who plodded along for a number of years.
    • Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors.
    • Hope lies in dreams, in imagination and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality.
    • I have dreams, and I have nightmares. I overcame the nightmares because of my dreams.
    • I couldn't possibly have become a member of this institute if I hadn't founded it myself.
    • As a child I was not interested in science. I was merely interested in things human, the human side of nature, if you like, and I continue to be interested in that. That's what motivates me.
    • I was told I could, if I wished, switch and get a Ph.D. in biochemistry but my preference was to stay with medicine. And I believe that this is all linked to my original ambition, or desire, which was to be of some help to humankind, so to speak, in a larger sense than just on a one-to-one basis. Just as I intended to study law, to make just laws, so I found myself interested now in the laws of nature, as distinct from the laws the people make.
    • Some people are constructive, if you like. Others are destructive. It's this diversity in humankind that results in some making positive contributions and some negative contributions. It's necessary to have enough who make positive contributions to overcome the problems of each age.
    • Why do I see things differently from the way other people see them? Why do I pursue the questions that I pursue, even if others regard them as, as they say, 'controversial?' Which merely means that they have a difference of opinion. They see things differently. I am interested both in nature, and in the human side of nature, and how the two can be brought together, and effectively used.
    • Risks, I like to say, always pay off. You learn what to do, or what not to do.
    • My attitude was always to keep open, to keep scanning. I think that's how things work in nature. Many people are close-minded, rigid, and that's not my inclination.
    • There are three stages of truth. First is that it can't be true, and that's what they said. You couldn't immunize against polio with a killed-virus vaccine. Second phase: they say, 'Well, if it's true, it's not very important. And the third stage is, 'Well, we've known it all along.'
    • You have to develop a thick skin in life. Its not in this field only. You might think of the ideal of the scientists, the ivory tower, the idealist. That's true of some. And I wouldn't guess as to what proportion. But there are some who are of that character, and there are some who are not.
    • Now, some people might look at something and let it go by, because they don't recognize the pattern and the significance. It's the sensitivity to pattern recognition that seems to me to be of great importance. It's a matter of being able to find meaning, whether it's positive or negative, in whatever you encounter. It's like a journey. It's like finding the paths that will allow you to go forward, or that path that has a block that tells you to start over again or do something else.
    • You can have a team of unconventional thinkers, as well as conventional thinkers. If you don't have the support of others you cannot achieve anything altogether on your own. It's like a cry in the wilderness. In each instance there were others who could see the same thing, and there were others who could not. It's an obvious difference we see in those who you might say have a bird's eye view, and those who have a worm's eye view. I've come to realize that we all have a different mind set, we all see things differently, and that's what the human condition is really all about.
    • Since whatever we do has to be part of a team, part of a community, we have to attempt to bring together those who have the same conviction, see the same things. Then it becomes a matter of time, when one or the other will prevail. Fortunately, there is all this diversity, and if not for that, problems would not be solved.
    • The evolvers are people who cause things to change. The maintainers of the status quo do everything to keep things from changing. And, there I see differences of perception. Differences in vision. Differences in interpretation, and differences in temperament, in personality. The number of evolvers are much fewer than the maintainers of the status quo. And amongst the evolvers, there are some who are initiators, some who go along with what other people recognize to be new or different.
    • I have come to associate a kind of success that we are referring to, to individuals who have a combination of attributes that are often associated with creativity. In a way they are mutants, they are different from others. And they follow their own drummer. We know what that means. And are we all like that? We are not like that. If you are, then it would be well to recognize that there were others before you. And, people like that are not very happy or content, until they are allowed to express, or they can express what's in them to express. It's that driving force that I think is like the process of evolution working on us, and in us, and with us, and through us. That's how we continue on, and will improve our lot in life, solve the problems that arise. Partly out of necessity, partly out of this drive to improve.
    • Reason alone will not serve. Intuition alone can be improved by reason, but reason alone without intuition can easily lead the wrong way. They both are necessary. The way I like to put it is that when I have an intuition about something, I send it over to the reason department. Then after I've checked it out in the reason department, I send it back to the intuition department to make sure that it's still all right. That's how my mind works, and that's how I work. That's why I think that there is both an art and a science to what we do. The art of science is as important as so-called technical science. You need both. It's this combination that must be recognized and acknowledged and valued.
    • I am interested in a phase that I think we are entering. I call it 'teleological evolution,' evolution with a purpose. The idea of evolution by design, designing the future, anticipating the future. I think of the need for more wisdom in the world, to deal with the knowledge that we have. At one time we had wisdom, but little knowledge. Now we have a great deal of knowledge, but do we have enough wisdom to deal with that knowledge?
    • What you see in living systems, and in genetic systems, is that the genes are already there, having arisen in the course of time, and when they are needed they become activated. If they had to be invented, the time would be too late. By the same token, I think that the people who are needed to help guide the future already exist. They simply need to recognize this in themselves, react to the opportunities that prevail, and also be valued and be encouraged. It's that very large, and as yet amorphous, rung that is of interest to me. I hope to articulate this, and see to what extent it makes sense to others as well.
    • The first thing I would like to point out is that each of us have a different purpose that we have to serve in the evolutionary scheme of things. We are not all equally endowed to do everything. When I speak about teleological evolution, I speak about the idea of 'telos,' purpose.
    • Know what is the purpose of life that you are inclined to serve, that you are drawn to. Do what makes your heart leap rather than simply follow some style or fashion. Not everyone can or should be a scientists. Not everyone can or should be any one thing. People need to know what kind of purpose they can serve.
    • The idea of being constructive, creative, positive, in trying to bring out the best in one's own self and the best in others follows from what I've just been saying. Again, I repeat my belief in us, in ourselves, as the product of the process of evolution, and part of the process itself. I think of evolution as an error-making and error-correcting process, and we are constantly learning from experience. It's the need to dedicate one's self in that way, to one's own self, and to choose an activity or life that is of value not only to yourself but to others as well.
    • My life is pretty well at peace, and the profession is more of an avocation. It's a calling, if you like, rather than a job. I do what I feel impelled to do, as an artist would. Scientists function in the same way. I see all these as creative activities, as all part of the process of discovery. Perhaps that's one of the characteristics of what I call the evolvers, any subset of the population who keep things moving in a positive, creative, constructive way, revealing the truth and beauty that exists in life and in nature.
    • I see weeds and flowers. I think of it in those terms, and we have to discriminate and distinguish between the two, to recognize and encourage those human qualities and attributes that are the more positive.
    • I judge things from an evolutionary perspective - 'How does this serve and contribute to the process of our own evolution?' - rather than think of good and evil in moral terms. I see the triumph of good over evil as a manifestation of the error-correcting process of evolution.
    • I speak about universal evolution and teleological evolution, because I think the process of evolution reflects the wisdom of nature. I see the need for wisdom to become operative. We need to try to put all of these things together in what I call an evolutionary philosophy of our time.
    • We need a large overarching perspective.
    • 'We were told in one lecture that it was possible to immunize against diphtheria and tetanus by the use of chemically treated toxins, or toxoids. And the following lecture, we were told that for immunization against a virus disease, you have to experience the infection, and that you could not induce immunity with the so-called 'killed' or inactivated, chemically treated virus preparation. Well, somehow, that struck me. What struck me was that both statements couldn't be true. And I asked why this was so, and the answer that was given was in a sense, 'Because.' There was no satisfactory answer.'
    • Risks, I like to say, always pay off. You learn what to do or what not to do.
    • jonas salk

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