This rule counsels against self-sacrifice on behalf of a cause that you do not wish to be your last. Two exceptionally talented doctoral students came to the realization that the routines they were being put through to get their credentials were absurd, and decided not to complete the degree because they would be untrue to themselves to conform to and support an absurd system. That sort of reasoning is almost always self-destructive. Behind the noble gestures there are usually some childhood-based conflicts that are neither understood nor admitted. Besides, their gesture was unlikely to have any impact whatever on the system they were taking a stand against. This is not to say that one should never take a stand, or a survival risk.
He understood the principles of piano construction, and was, therefore, no rule-of-thumb man. Rule-of-thumb can never again overcome the rules of averages, of percentages or of economic laws. All the power of his intelligence, all the rule-of-thumb derived from his practice, is devoted to this alone. Folks got to know, by a sort of rule-of-thumb, truths which scientifically they were unable to learn.
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The English phrase rule of thumb refers to a principle with broad application that is not intended to be strictly accurate or reliable for every situation. It refers to an easily learned and easily applied procedure or standard, based on practical experience rather than theory. This usage of the phrase can be traced back to the seventeenth century, and has been associated with various trades where quantities were measured by comparison to the width or length of a thumb. A modern folk etymology holds that the phrase derives from the maximum width of a stick allowed for wife-beating under English law ; this belief may have originated in a rumored statement by the eighteenth-century judge Sir Francis Buller that a man may beat his wife with a stick no wider than his thumb.