Friday, January 4, 2013

Einstein and Mother Teresa Never Said That

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

If I asked "Who said this?" many of you, and a large number of Internet quotation data bases, would say Albert Einstein. A few of you may answer Rita Mae Brown. But you'd both be wrong.

The first thing to appear in print that is very close to that phrasing we use today is "Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results." This first appeared in 1981 on page 11 of the Narcotics Anonymous handbook, under "Step 2."

I just wanted to make a quick point about quotes on the Internet--a very large number of them are plain wrong. I think Einstein and Mother Teresa are the most often mis-quoted. Nearly every day I see one or more quote texts or memes attributed to each of them that I know, from past research, to be wrong. The Catholic order that Mother Teresa belonged to has, in fact, put up a very long list of things attributed to Mother Teresa that she never said, and other things that have been highly paraphrased by other people, then re-attributed to Mother T.

PLEASE check your Mother Teresa quotes here first: http:www.motherteresa.org/08_info/Quotesf.html

It's important to note that most all of the "popular" quote data bases--brainyquote.com, goodreads.com, wikiquote.com, etc.--have these very wrong. All those commercial sites seem to have been built by people copying and pasting from the same wrong sources.

Lots of us like pithy quotations, but they need to be correct. Before you just reflexively hit "share" because you read something you like, please Google the crap out of it first, and try to verify it against multiple reliable sources. Oftentimes, you'll discover the real source and history of a quotation is more interesting than the false attribution it's been given.

Einstein and Mother Teresa Never Said That. Narcotic Anonymous handbook, quotes, quotations, albert einstein, Mother Theresa, Internet

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