Seeking source of quote

For the first time (I think), I’m going to ask my readers to help me track down the source of a quotation.  The following pithy statement is all over the internet, but I can’t find the original source, and by “original” I mean the full reference (if in a book, the title and page number, if on the web, an original URL).

“The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.”

                                                                                                            —Delos Banning McKown

Thanks for any help!

51 Comments

  1. Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    §

    b&

  2. jmckaskle
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    IMatt Dilahunty quoting Tracy Harris on the Atheist Experience several years ago. It went something like:

    “That which does not manifest is indistinguishable from that which does not exist”.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . and by “original” I mean the full reference.”

      (Nothing personal. I’m just trying to sub creatively. :D)

  3. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    Hmmmm maybe this. I did a google book search on books by Delos Banning McKown then did a search inside each for the phrase. I got a hit on p39 of The Myth Makers Magic: http://books.google.ca/books?ei=2g_bUZiOFsa2rQG-xoCoCg&id=hrnYAAAAMAAJ&dq=the+myth+makers+magic+delos&q=The+invisible+and+the+non-existent+look+very+much+alike.#search_anchor

    Might help?

    • eveysolara
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      yeah what she said 🙂

    • Mark Joseph
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

      OK, I found this a bit amusing. I clicked on your link to Google Books, and there is a section for “related works”. These included some expected choices–creationist and anti-creationist books–but also the completely marvelous selection of “1984”!

      Not surprising on further reflection, though; after all, who does doublespeak better than creationists?

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    More proof that when I get a task I obsessively try to finish it. The character flaw that is handy to others 🙂

    • jesperbothpedersen1
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I’ll remember that the next time I’m having trouble finishing a task. 🙂

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, what’s your eddress, Diana?

      😀

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha. I should use this as an advantage to hiring me. 🙂 I do know when to give up to though.

  5. Diane G.
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Gee, a little-known (and reviewed) volume for such a well-known quote.

    http://www.amazon.com/Mythmakers-Magic-Delos-B-Mckown/dp/0879757701/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1373311244&sr=1-1&keywords=the+mythmaker%27s+magic

    ^^Eliminating the “http//” in hopes that the whole thing won’t embed.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

      Indeed, you see that quote everywhere but who knew it was from this book until now. I wonder if the other cringes when he sees his quote on t-shirts, etc. 🙂

  6. Woof
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    It’s not, but it sounds a lot like Sagan, doesn’t it?

  7. Woof
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    It’s from a t-shirt!

    http://www.zazzle.com/delos_b_mckown_the_invisible_tee-235526515900072831

  8. Phoenix
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t find your quotation, but here are similar ones, of greater interest:
    “The plainly existent with no natural explanation may well reveal the invisible.”
    “The plainly existent with no possible natural explanation clearly reveals the invisible.”
    Mathematical proof: If A or B; if not A, then B

    Source: Evolution is true Courtesy of Phoenix

    • Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      “Greater interest” to whom?

      • Diane G.
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, those are a lot less pithy, IMO.

      • Phoenix
        Posted July 9, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

        Which is of greater interest? The original quote in question that implies that the invisible and the non-existent equivalent, which obviously is not true. Invisibility is all around. Too small, too large, to remote, not concurrent, as well as woo. Or these quotations that address the most profound question that man can ask. Is it all natural, or is something else involved. Doesn’t in any way imply an answer, just identifies a question worth musing over, as opposed to the other, which is a bit silly.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

      Err. Did you just call me stupid, or nekulturny, or something?

  9. Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Searching online shows a substantial number of people who quote the phrase believe it derived from Buddhist monk Huang-Po. But I haven’t gotten any further than that!

    • jwthomas
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

      Since Huang-Po was a Zen Buddhist master it’s unlikely he’d ever have spoken any sentence that wordy. He’d just have hit you with his stick.

  10. rodgerma
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Well, maybe it’s a borrow and a rewrite from Graham Greene?

    Graham Greene > Quotes > Quotable Quote

    Graham Greene

    “Indifference and pride look very much alike, and he probably thought I was proud.”

    ― Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

  11. Mel
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    The non-existent can leave no fingerprints.

  12. NewEnglandBob
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Sub

  13. docbill1351
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    There is a similar set of statements regarding the nature of software:

    If you can see it and it’s there, it’s real.

    If it’s there and you can’t see it, it’s transparent.

    If you can see it and it’s not there, it’s virtual.

    If you can’t see it and it’s not there, it’s gone!

  14. krzysztof1
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

    It is on p. 39 of McKown’s book The Mythmaker’s Magic. The context I was able to see reads: “. . . scientific will point out at once that the absence of evidence (for the artificer) is not evidence of absence. Perhaps not, but the absence of evidence is not evidence of presence either. At the risk of immodesty, the author reveals McKown’s Maxim, to wit: The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike.”

  15. krzysztof1
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    It is on p. 39 of McKown’s book “The Mythmaker’s Magic. The part I am able to see on google books reads: “. . .scientific will point out at once that the absence of evidence (for an artificer) is not evidence of absence. Perhaps not, but the absence of evidence is not evidence of presence, either. At the risk of immodesty, the author reveals McKown’s Maxim, to wit: The invisible and the nonexistent look very much alike.”

    • krzysztof1
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

      sorry about the duplicate post. I had thought it didn’t post the first time I tried it.

  16. Kevin Alexander
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I completely disagree. The invisible and the nonexistent bear no resemblance to each other.
    You can say nothing about the invisible, it’s invisible!
    The nonexistent, on the other hand, can inspire volumes and does.

    • docbill1351
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Where’d you go, Kev? You were here just a moment ago …

  17. Posted July 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    §

  18. Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

    Delos B. McKown was Alabama’s great atheist. We corresponded much in the 1970s. He was in the Philosophy Department at University of Alabama. What a great man.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

      Sounds like someone who deserves to be much better known.

      So many of those who were in the trenches, as it were, pre-internet, are essentially lost to modern freethinkers. Prometheus published some great authors, and it was pretty much the only game in town at the time.

      As were CODESH and PSICOP. I cringe now when they’re so glibly disparaged.

  19. Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    “The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike.” or do they?

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

      Without bothering to watch a 13-minute vid–sorry…I’m thinking this is going to be a lecture on how much of the universe is invisible, right?

      But I assume that we know it’s there due to either other ways of observation or conclusions that can be drawn from the physical parameters we can measure, so to these methods those properties are “visible,” in the broader sense.

      Forgive me if I’m wrong, but this sounds like yet another pedantic plaint based on selective semantics.

      • Posted July 8, 2013 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

        And I doubt the BBC program is about dark energy and dark matter as much being ‘invisible’ as ‘missing’, which is another misnomer.

        Dark energy and dark matter is directly seen in the acoustic peaks of the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

        It is fairly accepted that dark energy is vacuum energy, which effects is seen in various other experiments.

        Dark matter on the other hand seems to be one of the less uncertain properties of nature. When the program was made the Bullet cluster observations identified dark matter with something like 8 sigma, and IIRC Planck has now seen dark matter effects on the baryonic acoustic oscillations at 12 sigma (in the CMB alone).

        Dark matter is much more readily seen than the mysterious non-standard sector fields that gives standard sector neutrinos their masses. If I [layman here] should order the fields in diminishing order of visibility, my preference would go:

        Higgs field (now both particles and field seen) > dark matter (particles seen) > inflation field (various field properties seen) > neutrino seesaw fields (only light neutrinos seen).

        • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
          Posted July 8, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

          Giving it another go, I think I would switch dark matter and inflation, seeing how the observations of the latter is more informative, viz:

          Higgs field (now both particles and field seen) > dark matter (particles seen) > inflation field (various field properties seen) > neutrino seesaw fields (only light neutrinos seen).

          But I think the point stands, neutrino masses is the new kids on the block here. Quite literary too, dark matter was first seen in the 30’s (as virial observations of galaxy clusters), neutrino masses (as solar neutrino oscillations) in the 60’s.

          • Diane G.
            Posted July 8, 2013 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

            That’s what I meant to write, but I was pressed for time.

            l
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            😀

            Thanks, Torbjörn. I like to think that with every new post of yours I absorb a little more of the knowledge you always impart.

  20. Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

    It is the constant righteousness and inexplicable anger that you can pick up by reading certain peoples responses,that makes the visit to this a bit unpleasant, vulgar language, offenses and displays of anger will always counteract with a good argument, no sense of humor either.

    • John Harshman
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      On the other hand, most of us can write a coherent, properly punctuated, grammatical sentence. Doesn’t that count for something?

      • pacopicopiedra
        Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Well done, but I don’t think it lives up to your name.

    • Diane G.
      Posted July 8, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Reviewing the entire thread, I can find no response that strikes me as expressing “righteousness and inexplicable anger,” so I have to think you didn’t like my response to your vid post.

      Righteous? Anger?

      • Posted July 8, 2013 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Not seeing it either Diane.
        Merely polite and straightforward IMO.

        • Diane G.
          Posted July 8, 2013 at 11:03 pm | Permalink

          Thanks, Lynn, I needed an unbiased opinion. I am sorry if I got inshock-etc. that upset, though.

          (And I’m sure it’s an excellent vid. 🙂 )

      • notsont
        Posted July 9, 2013 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Ahh you must not have heard, if you correct someone on a mistaken belief you must be ANGRY!! Otherwise why ruin his day by pointing out he was wrong?

    • Marta
      Posted July 9, 2013 at 4:22 am | Permalink

      What the hell are you talking about?

  21. Charles Sullivan
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

    I think Hitchens said something similar once.

  22. Richard Thomas
    Posted July 9, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    It sounds similar to something Sagan had wrote in his book The Demon Haunted World. I do not have a copy in my posession anymore but perhaps someone else…?


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