I'd like to find the author and source of a quote. I recall it as:

People that cannot distinguish rocks from coconuts exhibit a pitiable but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind.

  • I'm thinking Quine, but I don't know the source nor exact quote.
    – davidg
    Jul 11, 2023 at 17:55
  • I face a similar hurdle on more occasions than I feel is appropriate to mention. Since I'm not getting paid to do philosophy, it's a no-brainer why I'm stuck. What's your excuse, mon ami?
    – Hudjefa
    Jul 12, 2023 at 11:28
  • 4
    The closest I can find to this is Quine's "Creatures inveterately wrong in their inductions have a pathetic but praiseworthy tendency to die before reproducing their kind." From the paper "Natural Kinds" in his collection Ontological Relativity and Other Essays.
    – Bumble
    Jul 13, 2023 at 0:50
  • My undergraduate lecturer said something similar about people who don't believe in IBE and induction (that they would always be late to class anyway). Everyone uses these ways of thinking; some people pretend otherwise, perhaps to excuse their poor reasoning.
    – user67155
    Aug 12, 2023 at 23:38

2 Answers 2


On DuckDuckGo, the search term "exhibit praiseworthy tendency reproducing kind" pulled up a number of references to Quine.


I have heard it (or similar words to that effect) attributed to Darwin Award website founder Wendy Northcutt, but I cannot find any independent verification. I kind of doubt it because the phraseology seems to be from an earlier time than 1993 (Not unlike my own.) Also, a search on quotes by Wendy Northcutt does not include it. Good luck.


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