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I am looking for an idiom which means sticking fingers in your ears does not change the fact; the fact remains so, even if you don't listen to the one who is mentioning it.

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    Not an idiom, exactly, but perhaps you can make a kind of reversal of one: “An ignored pot always keeps boiling” or something to that effect. Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 12:46
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    You can't wish it away.
    – Kris
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 12:48
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    @JanusBahsJacquet Perhaps "A pot ignored boils on." Has a nice ring to it. Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 16:06
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    @JanusBahsJacquet I was thinking of making it more of a (non-rhyming) couplet: "A watched pot never boils,/ but a pot ignored boils on." Many idiomatic English phrases exist in this form because it is easier to remember something that has a rhythm to it. That's why I omitted the parallelism. Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 16:17
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    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away." - Philip K Dick
    – MT_Head
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 19:55

8 Answers 8

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Don't bury your head in the sand
Fig. to ignore or hide from obvious signs of danger. (Alludes to an ostrich, which is believed incorrectly to hide its head in a hole in the ground when it sees danger.)
"Stop burying your head in the sand. Look at the statistics on smoking and cancer."

This 1760 dictionary says the general concept goes back to at least Pliny in the first century...

...it will thrust its head into the bushes, and remain there as if her whole body was well concealed. Again, it is said that the ostrich is naturally deaf, which does not a little contribute to her stupidity.


There's also the closely-related saying...

If wishes were horses, beggars would ride

...which essentially means "Wishful thinking obviously doesn't change things in the real world"

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You can break the thermometer but you can't change the weather.

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    Never heard this before but I kinda like it. Google doesn't know it either so I'm guessing you either made it up or translated it from another language. Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 17:58
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    I can't find the whole expression but "can't change the weather" does seem to be idiomatic. Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 18:50
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    That would seem to violate the Butterfly Effect Law :-) Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 19:45
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    I’ve mainly heard versions of this from the days when barometers (aka “weather-glasses”), not thermometers, where the instrument in question. From the original (fantastic and under-appreciated) Casino Royale: “You can break the bloody glass, but you can’t hold back the weather.”
    – PLL
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 21:12
  • @PLL Thanks, that definitely gives some precedence to this phrase (in some form). Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 21:35
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Facts are stubborn things. - John Adams

Perhaps a more subtle approach, although not directly addressing the "fingers in the ears" part.

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  • Welcome to EL&U, TimH. We appreciate your input. This is more of a "comment" than an answer, but once you have earned enough reputation, you will be able to comment, which can include opinions and additional information, such as this interesting fact. :) Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 22:02
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    I often wonder where does a comment end and an answer start? According to the input help a comment can have up to 600 characters. In doubt i favor a short answer over a comment because an answers can have his own comments and avoids multiple comments with different subjects attached to the same question. Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 15:04
  • Thanks, @Susan! I will try to keep that in mind in the future. Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 17:10
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Along the lines of FumbleFingers second offer, the phrase wish away is found in US usage.

wish someone or something away

to wish that someone or something would go away.

You can't just wish him away. You'll have to ask him to leave!

Don't try to wish away the difficulties of your life.

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More of an aphorism than an idiom, this frequently quoted statement from Moynihan:
"Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts".

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A fact ignored remains a fact.

Truth ignored remains the truth.

Conversely:

A lie believed (or accepted) is still a lie.

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This doesn't refer to ears or any other part of the anatomy, but people who behave like this 'never let a fact get in the way of an opinion', an expression I have had occasion to use far too frequently for my liking...

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  • I have heard ‘‘Don’t bother me with facts; I’ve made up my mind.’’ Commented Jul 7, 2018 at 17:01
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    @Scott Really? I'm amazed! Most people I've known who definitely don't want to hear facts nor change their opinion never have the courage to say it that clearly...
    – bamboo
    Commented Jul 7, 2018 at 17:14
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A classic, and somewhat snide, idiom which captures this situation is

And yet it moves...

This is the English translation of a famous quote by Galileo:

E pur si muove (or Eppur si muove)

Which he spoke (one imagines sotto voce) after his imprisonment for promulgating the heresy that the Earth orbits the Sun, in contradiction to the Church's (then) position that the Earth (and its people) was placed at the very center of the universe by God Himself.

According to Wikipedia:

In this context, the implication of the phrase is: despite this recantation, the Church's proclamations to the contrary, or any other conviction or doctrine of men, the Earth does, in fact, move [around the sun, and not vice versa]. As such, the phrase is used today as a sort of pithy retort implying that "it doesn't matter what you believe; these are the facts".

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