There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation. —Herbert Spencer 

Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Appendix II page 567

Here is a little piece that ends up in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, as probably one of the more famous quotes that exists in Alcoholics Anonymous today. That is “contempt prior to investigation”.

This particular quote, has a few statements in it, that are certainly worth investigating further. First of all, contempt is defined according to Google as a disregard for something that should be taken into account. How many times have I been too quick to judge something, too quick to come to a conclusion without having all the facts? That is the purpose of this quote, judging a concept too quick. That judgement in this case is in regard to spiritual awakening.

Contempt Prior to Investigation

Quite often, many of us will judge religion, or spirituality, or another persons belief system without looking further into the spiritual matter in question. Before disregarding spiritual experiences, investigate them with an open mind. Always with the open mind, because when we open our minds we understand things from a less judgmental perspective.

Contempt prior to investigation blocks us against the bigger picture and keeps us in the dark. What this quote is saying is, this. Before you claim to know all the facts, or have all the facts, understand that there is always more then meets the eye. There is always the other half of the story. So try to be open minded to all information, including information you may not have. When I can do this, when I can be more open minded that I might not have all the facts, then I I become teachable.

For an interesting read on how this ended up in the big book, please enjoy this article that I found on


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