No, Leonardo da Vinci did not write that either.

Today’s post is about a popular quote that is often misattributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  Read on to discover who really wrote it and who is spreading this misinformation.

The Misattributed Quote

“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.”
Leonardo da Vinci

The Correct Quote Variations

Because this quote was originally written in Italian in the 16th century, it has been translated into English many times by many different translators resulting in many variations.   I am listing five variations below, but this is not a comprehensive list.

“There are three classes of intellects: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates what others comprehend; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor by the showing of others.”
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince, Chapter XXII, page 181 (London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1908)
Translated by W. K. Marriott

The Quote Translated by W. K. Marriott

The Quote Translated by W. K. Marriott
The Prince, Chapter XXII, page 181 (London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1908)

“There are three different kinds of brains, the one understands things unassisted, the other understands things when shown by others, the third understands neither alone nor with the explanations of others.”
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince, Chapter XXII, page 92 (London: Grant Richards, 1903)
Translated by Luigi Ricci

The Quote Translated by Luigi Ricci

The Quote Translated by Luigi Ricci
The Prince, Chapter XXII, page 92 (London: Grant Richards, 1903)

“There are three scales of intelligence, one which understands by itself, a second which understands what is shown it by others, and a third which understands neither by itself nor on the showing of others.”
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince, Chapter XXII, page 172 (London: Oxford University Press, 1913)
Translated by Ninian Hill Thomson

The Quote Translated by Ninian Hill Thomson

The Quote Translated by Ninian Hill Thomson
The Prince, Chapter XXII, page 172 (London: Oxford University Press, 1913)

“In the capacities of mankind there are three degrees: one man understands things by means of his own natural endowments; another understands things when they are explained to him; and a third can neither understand them of himself, nor when they are explained by others.”
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince, Chapter XXII, page 477 (London: George Bell & Sons, 1909)
Translated by unknown

The Quote Translated by Unknown

The Quote Translated by Unknown
The History of Florence and The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli, page 477 (London: George Bell & Sons, 1909)

“There are three kinds of mind: the first grasps things unaided; the second when they are explained; the third never understands at all.”
Niccolò Machiavelli
The Prince, Chapter XXII (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988)
Translated by Russell Price

I cannot provide an image due to copyright restrictions; however, the book can be found on Amazon.com.

Statistics

After surveying 110 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
31%    Quotes only
26%    Social media
15%    Corporation/corporate individual
15%    Informational
4%     Quotes a major feature
4%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
3%     Topical group or discussion forum
1%     Online app or service
1%     Academic/educational/school

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics show that websites with the sole purpose of providing quotes are the largest group propagating today’s misquote.  If we combine them (31%) with the websites that provide quotes as a major part of their functionality (4%), we find that 35 percent of the websites perpetuating this misinformation are major quote repositories.  Once again, we see that quote websites are not reliable sources for quotes.  The vast majority of them feature data that is not fact-checked.  Consequently, they are a key contributor to the spread of misquotes throughout cyberspace and modern literature.  Avoid them at all costs.

Social Media Is Another Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics also indicate that social media websites play a major role in the proliferation of today’s misquote.  The user interactions that occur on social media create an environment that is conducive to the rapid spread of misinformation.  Much like a virus, when one person posts an infected quote, all of his/her followers get it, and all of their followers get it and so on and so forth.  The next thing you know we have a pandemic on our hands.  And when that happens, untruths become “facts” which ultimately make their way into our culture and academia.  My 12/31/15 post “No, Clara Barton did not write that” is an example of this.

Possible Cause of Today’s Misquote

There is another variation of today’s quote found in the novel The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci (1902) by Dimitri Merejkowski.  Below is the quote found in Book XII, chapter IV on page 328.  Note the verb “see” is used, similar to the misquote.

The Quote Translated by Herbert Trench from the Russian of Dimitri Merejkowski

The Quote Translated by Herbert Trench from the Russian of Dimitri Merejkowski
The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci, Book XII, Chapter IV, page 328 (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904)

Here is the title page:

Title Page of 'The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci' by Dimitri Merejkowski

Title Page of The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci by Dimitri Merejkowski

The pink highlight on the quoted page indicates that Merejkowski clearly wrote that it is Machiavelli who says the quote.  The question is how did Machiavelli get replaced by da Vinci in the misquote?  My guess is that somewhere in time some quote hunter found the quote in this book which has Leonardo da Vinci in the title and assumed he said it instead of Machiavelli and then posted it on the internet.  Of course, this is pure speculation, and I could very well be wrong.  But the use of the verb “see” only occurs in this book and the misquote, so I tend to think there is a correlation.

Translated Quotes Are Not Reliable

Today’s misquote demonstrates perfectly why I do not like to use translated quotes.  The wording can vary so widely across different translations that sometimes the entire meaning is changed.  Fortunately, even though there are many wording variations for Machiavelli’s quote, the meaning does not change that much with each version.  However, this is not always the case.  My 06/07/14 post “No, that’s not how Benjamin Franklin wrote it” highlights a Latin quote that has a variety of English translations, each with a completely different meaning.  I prefer to avoid this loss in translation by simply not using translations.

Quote Books Often Feature Misquotes

Today’s misquote appears in at least 27 contemporary books.  All were published in the 2000s, and three of them are quote books.  One of the quote books is specifically Leonardo da Vinci quotes only.  Unfortunately, it features today’s misquote AND the da Vinci misquote I wrote about in my 11/30/15 post “No, Leonardo da Vinci did not write that.”  Like the vast majority of quote books on the market right now, this book does not include detailed source information with each quote.  As I’ve written before, never trust a book (or website) that does not include information such as the name of the work in which the quote is found along with applicable data like chapter, act, scene, line, stanza, etc.  If you cannot verify the quote with the data provided, it is not reliable.

Most Amusing Finds

During my research, I came across two informational websites that are specifically about Leonardo da Vinci and Leonardo da Vinci only, and they both feature today’s misquote. . . Well, there goes all credibility.  [queue sad wah-wah-wah-waaaah trombone]

I also came across an article about Leonardo da Vinci on storify.com.  The author writes that the misquote “can be interpreted and applied to the Mona Lisa.”  Boy, talk about reaching.  [smile, chuckle, wink]

Most Disappointing Find

Sadly, I discovered today’s misquote on the University of St. Andrews, Scotland website.  I’m always disappointed to see the quote virus infecting educational institutions.

For Sale

As usual, our misquote is available for purchase.  That’s right!  For just $24.65 you can have your own misquote mouse pad.  (Wow, trying saying that three times really fast.)  If you’re more of a fashionista, $29.95 will get you a beautiful misquote sweatshirt so you can proudly display something da Vinci never said, preferably to “those who do not see.”  [Tee hee!]  Yes . . . that is a feeble attempt at geeky quote humor.

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus Together

I haven’t come up with a vaccine for the quote virus yet, so for now our only weapon is education.  You, dear reader, can help by sharing the knowledge.  Forward this post to friends and family, and if you’re on Facebook, “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Until next time,

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, John D. Rockefeller did not write that.

Today’s post is about an inspirational quote by John D. Rockefeller that is misworded and misattributed.  Follow along to learn what he really wrote as well as who is spreading this false information.

The Misworded and Misattributed Quote Variations in Order of Popularity

“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.”
John D. Rockefeller

“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.”
Anita Roddick

“If you want to succeed you should strike out on new paths, rather than travel the worn paths of accepted success.”
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

“If you want to succeed, you have to forge new paths and avoid borrowed ones.”
John D. Rockefeller

“If you want to succeed, you have to forge new paths and avoid borrowed ones that promise success.”
John D. Rockefeller

The Correct Quote

“It requires a better type of mind to seek out and to support or to create the new than to follow the worn paths of accepted success.”
John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
Random Reminiscences of Men and Events, chapter VI

Here is the quote found in Random Reminiscences of Men and Events first published in 1908.

The Quote Found in 'Random Reminiscences of Men and Events'

The Quote Found in Random Reminiscences of Men and Events

Here is the title page.

Title Page of 'Random Reminiscences of Men and Events' by John D. Rockefeller

Title Page of Random Reminiscences of Men and Events by John D. Rockefeller

Here is the table of contents.

'Random Reminiscences of Men and Events' Table of Contents

Random Reminiscences of Men and Events Table of Contents

Statistics
After surveying 120 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
38%    Quotes only
25%    Informational
16%    Social media
8%     Corporation/Corporate individual
7%     Online app or service
2%     Quotes a major feature
2%     Quotes paraphernalia
1%     Academic/educational/school
1%     Topical group or discussion forum

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics show that websites with the sole purpose of providing quotes are the largest group propagating today’s misquote.  If we combine them (38%) with the websites that provide quotes as a major part of their functionality (2%), we find that 40 percent of the websites perpetuating this misinformation are major quote repositories.  Unfortunately, as my previous posts have demonstrated, this result is the norm.  In short, never use quote websites as a resource for quotes.  They are notoriously riddled with inaccurate information.

Informational Websites Are Another Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics also show that informational websites are another major contributor to the proliferation of today’s misquote.  For example, two of the websites featuring today’s misquote are specifically about John D. Rockefeller.  In other words, their sole purpose is to provide information about him and him only.  Because the subject matter is so narrow and specific, one would assume that all the data is fact-checked; unfortunately, this is not the case.  In fact, I have encountered many informational websites which purport to be an authority on some specific topic when in reality they are not.  The bottom line is don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

Wikiquote is Another Source of Misquotes

Do not be fooled into thinking Wikipedia and Wikiquote are accurate sources for information.  They are not.  Today’s misquote appears on Wikiquote which cites Steps to the Top (1985) by Zig Ziglar as the source.  This book was not written by Rockefeller or someone who interviewed him nor does it provide a valid source.  The late Ziglar is just one of hundreds of motivational speakers/writers who cite this misquote in their books.  Wikiquote is doing a huge disservice to the public by featuring quotes that are not from the original source.  This is not the first time I’ve found inaccurate information on Wikiquote or Wikipedia, so reader beware.

Modern Books Are Another Source of Misquotes

During my research, I came across 28 contemporary books featuring today’s misquote, and 10 of them are quote books.  Unfortunately, most modern authors get their quotes from quote websites or quote books.  The advent of the internet coupled with the rise of e-books has created an environment in which misquotes (and other false data) spread at lightning speed.  The replication process is very similar to a viral infection, and it doesn’t take long for this sort of quote virus to become a pandemic.  Often times the infected quote becomes so widespread that it morphs into a new “truth,” a mutant if you will.

How to Avoid Being Duped

The vast majority of websites and books simply list the quote followed by the name of the person who said/wrote it.  This is a red flag indicating the quote was probably not verified.  A quote will have more veracity if the name is accompanied by the title of the work in which the quote is found along with applicable detailed information such as chapter, act, scene, line, stanza, etc.  Unfortunately, this is not always foolproof.  For example, one website cites today’s misquote from Body and Soul by Anita Roddick; needless to say, that is false.  By the way, this does not mean that all quotes without detailed information are false; it just means be wary and verify.  In short, if the attribution is the author/orator’s name only, don’t accept it.  If source information is provided, look it up to see if it’s true.

Rewording Changes the Meaning

The reworded version not only changes the meaning but it contradicts itself.  It explains how to be successful (strike out on a new path).  In other words, to succeed, the misquote directs us not to use the “worn paths of accepted success” but to “strike out on new paths.”  The contradiction is that even if you’re on a worn path of “accepted success,” you’re still on a path of success.  It may be worn, but it’s a path of success.

The original quote is not about how to be successful; it is about what constitutes a better way of thinking (seek out, support, or create something new).  In other words, you may be on a worn path of success, but it is better to do it by creating something new. He goes on to explain that duplicating industries does not contribute to the progress and happiness of the American people as a whole and that it is a failure to the individual if s/he does not contribute to the progress or happiness of all of mankind.  Basically, he is saying be successful by creating something new that benefits the world instead of duplicating an industry to make money to benefit yourself.

By the way, none of the misquote versions or any combination thereof appear in any of Rockefeller’s books.

Senior vs. Junior vs. III, IV, V, VI

As of this writing, there are six generations of John D. Rockefellers.  The most frequently quoted are John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.  Today’s quote is from Senior, but there are a few quote websites that cite Junior.  Because Senior, Junior and other namesake descendants are featured in many quote collections, it is important to specify which Rockefeller is being quoted.

Possible Cause of Anita Roddick Attribution

Today’s misquote can also be found attributed to late British entrepreneur, Anita Roddick.  It does not appear in any of her books; however, I found several websites featuring an Anita Roddick quote adjacent to our Rockefeller misquote.  Sometimes this is because they are listed alphabetically.  Perhaps, some quote hunter misunderstood which attribution went with which quote and inadvertently posted the mistake somewhere in cyberspace where it began to spread.  This is pure speculation on my part, but it is definitely a possibility.  Time will tell if the Anita Roddick attribution gains momentum and becomes as widespread as the Rockefeller attribution.  Stay tuned.

Most Disappointing Find

Sadly, I found our misquote on two prominent university websites.  One is an undergraduate business e-magazine, and the other is a professor’s home page.  It’s always disappointing to see the quote virus spread its germs into academia.

For Sale

As usual, I came across our misquote for sale on a quotes paraphernalia website.  For just $34.11 you can have your own 24″ x 36″ misquote poster.  Hmm . . . I wonder if Rockefeller would consider profit from flawed merchandise a new path or a worn path of accepted success.  [smile, wink]

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus Together

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the quote virus.  The only way to kill this modern-day scourge is through education.  You can be a part of the solution by sharing the knowledge.  Forward this post to friends and family, and if you’re on Facebook, “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Finally, remember to practice safe quoting by never using quotes without detailed original source information and verify if source information is given.

Until next time,

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, Andrew Carnegie did not write that.

Today’s post is about a motivational quote that is often misattributed to Andrew Carnegie.  Follow along to learn who really wrote it as well as who is spreading this false information.

The Misattributed and Misworded Quote

“Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success.  A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you.  Achieve!  Achieve!”
Andrew Carnegie

The Correct Quote

Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success.  A whole, clear, glorious year lies before you!  In a year you can regain health, fortune, restfulness, happiness!

Push on!  Achieve, achieve!

Ella Wheeler Wilcox
“Let the Past Go”
The Heart of the New Thought (1902)

Here is the quote found in The Heart of the New Thought.

The Quote Found in 'The Heart of the New Thought'

The Quote Found in The Heart of the New Thought

Here is the title page showing Ella Wheeler Wilcox is the author.

Title Page of 'The Heart of the New Thought' by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Title Page of The Heart of the New Thought by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Here is the table of contents.

'The Heart of the New Thought' Table of Contents

The Heart of the New Thought Table of Contents

Note:  Andrew Carnegie authored several books, and this quote does not appear in any of them.

Statistics

After surveying 100 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
36%    Quotes only
18%    Corporation/corporate individual
16%    Quotes a major feature
12%    Social media
12%    Informational
3%     Online app or service
1%     Academic/educational/school
1%     Organization
1%     Quotes paraphernalia

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics indicate that websites with the sole purpose of providing quotes are the largest group propagating today’s misquote.  If we combine them (36%) with the websites that provide quotes as a major part of their functionality (16%), we find that 52 percent of the websites perpetuating this misinformation are major quote repositories.  As I’ve written before, the vast majority of administrators for quote websites do not fact-check the data they are providing.  And because these sites specialize in quotes only, most people assume they are the best resource for quotes.  In reality they are the worst resource for quotes.

Quote Websites Are Rewriting History

The popularity of quote websites has created a plague of misquotes, and sadly, academia has become infected.  History is now being rewritten because misquotes are actually being taught in our educational institutions.  For example, my 12/31/15 post No, Clara Barton did not write that is about a misquote that is featured in most contemporary nursing textbooks as well as on nursing school websites.  Students are being taught that Clara Barton wrote something that was actually written by someone else.  My 03/31/16 post No, Margaret Fuller did not write that is about a quote by Thomas Fuller that is attributed to Margaret Fuller on websites of prominent universities.  This misquote even appears in a thesis found online for a Master of Arts in English.  The subject of this thesis is actually Margaret Fuller.  Go figure!  My 11/30/15 post No, Leonardo da Vinci did not write that is about a quote by Thomas Paine that is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci on a website created by K–12 principals and school administrators.  One can only wonder what other parts of history are being rewritten.

Possible Cause of Misattribution

This misquote appears as early as 1906 in A Conspectus of American Biography Being an Analytical Summary of American History and Biography (James T. White & Company, 1906) compiled by George Derby.  It also appears in Character Lessons in American Biography for Public Schools and Home Instruction, fifth edition (The Character Development League, 1909) by James Terry White.  The common denominator is James Terry White, and yes, these two instances of James T. White are one and the same.  I cannot say with certainty that he is the originator of this misquote, but he definitely contributed to it.

Modern Books Are Another Source of Misquotes

During my research, I came across 18 books featuring today’s misquote.  All were published in the 2000s.  Six of them are quote books.  As I’ve written before, the vast majority of quote books published after the inception of the internet are riddled with misinformation.  Unfortunately, contemporary authors use quote websites as a resource for their quotes, and consequently, their books are about as reliable as quote websites.

Do Not Trust a Quote with the Author’s Name Only

The one thing that most quote websites and modern quote books have in common is that neither provides source data with each quote.  Typically, the quoted person’s name is the only information given.  This is a red flag indicating the quote was probably not verified.  The attribution should also include the title of the work in which the quote is found along with applicable information such as chapter, act, scene, line, stanza, etc.

For Sale

As usual, today’s misquote is available for purchase.  For $24.62 you can have your own 24″ x 36″ misquote poster.  Now that’s a steal!

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus Together

There’s no vaccine for the quote virus, so the only way to combat it is through education.  You can help by sharing the knowledge, especially with a teacher or professor.  Forward this post to family and friends, and if you’re on Facebook, “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Until next time,

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, Benjamin Disraeli did not write that.

Today’s post is about an inspirational quote that is often misattributed to Benjamin Disraeli.  Read on to learn who really wrote it as well as who is spreading this false information.

The Misattributed Quote Variations in Order of Popularity

“Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm.”
Benjamin Disraeli

“Every product of genius must be the product of enthusiasm.”
Benjamin Disraeli

The Correct Quote

“Every production of genius must be the production of enthusiasm.”
Isaac D’Israeli
“Solitude”
Curiosities of Literature

Here is the quote found in Curiosities of Literature originally published in installments from 1791 to 1823.

The Quote Found in 'Curiosities of Literature'

The Quote Found in Curiosities of Literature

Here is the title page showing Isaac D’Israeli is the author.

Title Page of 'Curiosities of Literature' by Isaac D’Israeli

Title Page of Curiosities of Literature by Isaac D’Israeli

Here is the table of contents.

'Curiosities of Literature' Table of Contents

Curiosities of Literature Table of Contents

D’Israeli vs. Disraeli

Please note the difference in surname spelling in the above attributions.  Even though they are father and son, they spelled their last name differently.  Isaac spelled it with an apostrophe followed by a capital letter, as in D’Israeli.  His son and future British Prime Minister, Benjamin, at the age of eighteen changed the spelling by deleting the apostrophe and changing the second letter to lower case; in other words, D’Israeli became Disraeli.  After Isaac’s death, Benjamin edited Curiosities of Literature by adding his own commentary and changing the spelling of Isaac’s surname to match his.  This is why you may encounter two versions of Isaac’s last name depending on when the book was published.

Statistics

After surveying 110 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
42%    Quotes only
17%    Social media
16%    Corporation/corporate individual
9%     Informational
8%     Quotes a major feature
4%     Academic/educational/school
3%     Online app or service
1%     Topical group or discussion forum

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics indicate that websites with the sole purpose of providing quotes are the largest group propagating today’s misquote.  If we combine them (42%) with the websites that provide quotes as a major part of their functionality (8%), we find that 50 percent of the websites perpetuating this misinformation are major quote repositories.  As I’ve written before, quote databases of any kind found on the internet are notoriously riddled with inaccurate information.  The administrators of these databases generally do not fact-check the data they are providing.  Additionally, they often blindly copy quotes verbatim from other quote websites (probably also not fact-checked).  I have actually seen on many occasions the same quotes with the same typos in the same order on different quote websites.  Because of this general lack of integrity, these sites should be avoided like the plague that they are.

Social Media Websites Are Another Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics also show that social media websites are another major contributor to the proliferation of today’s misquote.  They are the breeding grounds for the quote virus.  The quote websites are typically where the initial infection occurs, and the social media websites are where the infection spreads like a virus across the internet.  One person posts an infected quote, and all of his/her followers get it, and all of their followers get it and so on and so forth.  This means whenever you receive a cute little quote meme on social media, don’t believe it.  It is probably infected.

Citing Surname Only Is a Possible Cause of Today’s Misattribution

During my research, I came across the quote book A Dictionary of Thoughts (Cassell Publishing Company, 1891) by Tryon Edwards which attributes all quotes by last name only.  Today’s misquote is in the book attributed to Disraeli, spelled the way Benjamin spells it.  Both men are listed in the index of authors with the same surname spelling.  The problem is they are not differentiated with a first name initial for each quote; therefore, one can only guess which Disraeli said what.  (Apparently, this was an oversight because other authors in the book with the same last name are differentiated.)  There are other quote books during this time period that also cite by last name only, so we cannot definitively say that A Dictionary of Thoughts was the one that gave birth to this misquote.  However, its lack of distinction between these two authors certainly may have contributed to it.  The surname-only style popular during this time period definitely did not help things.

Dictionary of Quotations by James Wood Is Another Possible Cause of Misattribution

I came across another quote book titled Dictionary of Quotations (Frederick Warne and Co., 1893) by Rev. James Wood which also attributes by last name only.  Even though Isaac and Benjamin are presented with the same surname spelling (the way Benjamin spells it), the book differentiates by including the first initial for Isaac.  Since the book attributes today’s quote to Disraeli with no initial, it is a misattribution to Benjamin.  So this book is another possible point of origin for this misquote.

Beaconsfield Is Another Name for Disraeli

In 1876 Queen Victoria ennobled Benjamin Disraeli Earl of Beaconsfield.  Because of this, some quote books of the day refer to Disraeli as Beaconsfield.  The quote book Many Thoughts of Many Minds (The Christian Herald, 1896) by Louis Klopsch is an example of this.  Today’s misquote can be found in this book attributed to Beaconsfield instead of Disraeli, which means this book could also be another possible point of origin for our misquote.

Automated Quote Apps Are Another Source of Quote Infection

There are many services available that allow users to subscribe to automatic delivery of a new quote every day to their social media account or smart phone.  Unfortunately, most of these services use quote databases derived from the internet which means they are simply additional conduits for misquote propagation.  As with quote websites, these services should be avoided.

Modern Books Are Another Source of Misquotes

Much like quote websites, modern quote books are just as unreliable.  During my research, I came across eight books featuring today’s misquote.  Five of them are quote books, and all were published in the 2000s.  If a quote book is published after the advent of the internet, it will most likely contain quotes collected from the internet which means much of the data will not be trustworthy.  This does not mean that quote books published prior to the internet are flawless (as today’s misquote shows); it just means they typically contain fewer errors.

A Quote Should Include Detailed Source Information

Most quote websites and contemporary quote books cite author name only with each quote.  This is a sign the quote was probably not verified.  The quote should include detailed source information such as book title, chapter number, play title, act number, scene number, line number, poem title, stanza number and/or line number.  You should be able to easily find the quote on your own using the given source information.

A Quote Should Include Original Source Information

The source information should be from the originator.  Citing a quote website or a quote book as a source is not legitimate.  Citing a book in which the author claims someone said something without including a source is also not legitimate.  The source should be the original work in which the quote is found.  The name alone is not sufficient source information.

Most Amusing Find

During my research, I came across a quote website that lists Benjamin Disraeli’s date of birth as January 1, 1970.  Apparently, this website administrator didn’t get the memo that Disraeli was born in 1804.  Predictably, today’s misquote is also listed on this website.  So not only is the attribution wrong, but the biographical information is wrong.  Hence I repeat, avoid quote websites at all costs.

Most Disappointing Find

Sadly, the quote virus has infected our academic community.  I came across a high school teacher of AP European history who included today’s misquote on her website.

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus Together

There’s no vaccine for the quote virus, so the only way to combat it is through education.  You, dear reader, can help by sharing the knowledge.  You can do this by forwarding this post to family and friends.  Also, if you know someone who is writing a book (seems like everyone is nowadays), this would be very helpful information to them, as many contemporary authors like to include a quote at the beginning of each chapter.  If you’re on Facebook, “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Until next time, remember to

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, Margaret Fuller did not write that.

Today’s post is about an inspirational quote that is often misworded and misattributed to Margaret Fuller as well as Winston Churchill.  Follow along to learn who really wrote it and who is spreading this inaccurate information.

The Misattributed and Misworded Quote Variations in Order of Popularity

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”
Margaret Fuller

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles with it.”
Winston Churchill

“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles at it.”
Margaret Fuller

Less popular variants include the plural word “candles” followed by “from it” or “by it” and singular “candle” followed by “from it,” “by it,” or “in it.”  These versions are for the most part attributed to Margaret Fuller.

Oddly enough, I also came across a single occurrence of attributions to Jonathan Winters, Mary Engelbreit, A. K. Khan, and Professor Ursula James.  Most likely these lone wolf attributions will begin to multiply across the internet over time.

The Correct Quote

“If thou hast knowledge, let others light their candle at thine.”
Thomas Fuller, MD (1654-1734)
Introductio ad Prudentiam: or, Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, Tending to Prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life
Part II, item no. 1784

Here is the quote found in Introductio ad Prudentiam: or, Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, Tending to Prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life, Part II first published in 1727 (Part I was published in 1726).

The Quote Found in 'Introductio ad Prudentiam: or, Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, Tending to Prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life, Part II' by Thomas Fuller First Published in 1727

The Quote Found in Introductio ad Prudentiam: or, Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, Tending to Prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life, Part II First Published in 1727

Here is the title page showing Thomas Fuller is the author.

Title Page of 'Introductio ad Prudentiam: or, Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, Tending to Prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life, Part II'

Title Page of Introductio ad Prudentiam: or, Directions, Counsels, and Cautions, Tending to Prudent Management of Affairs in Common Life, Part II by Thomas Fuller

An earlier version of the book was published in 1725 with the above title sans the first four words.

Caution: There Are Three Thomas Fullers of Note

The Thomas Fuller responsible for today’s quote was a British physician who lived from 1654 to 1734.

Do not confuse him with the Thomas Fuller who was a British cleric and author who lived from 1608 to 1661.

Additionally, do not confuse him with the Thomas Fuller who was a Virginia slave famous for his mathematical abilities and lived from 1710 to 1790.

If you’re going to cite this quote, please give credit where credit is due and specify which person it is (Thomas Fuller, MD [1654-1734]).

Statistics

After surveying 150 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
33%    Quotes only
18%    Informational
15%    Corporation/corporate individual
11%    Social media
7%     Quotes a major feature
7%     Organization
5%     Academic/educational/school
2%     Quotes paraphernalia
1%     Topical group or discussion forum
1%     Online app or service

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics show that websites with the sole purpose of providing quotes are the largest group propagating today’s misquote.  If we combine them (33%) with the websites that provide quotes as a major part of their functionality (7%), we find that 40 percent of the websites perpetuating this misinformation are major quote repositories.  The lesson here is never use a quote database found on ANY website as a resource for quotes.  They are focused on quantity instead of quality.  The worst offenders are the ones that allow any random visitor to add to the collection.

By the way, some quote websites provide other information in addition to quotes such as poems, lyrics, and short stories; I include them in the quotes-a-major-feature category.  This category also includes websites that have a major quote database (10,000+) found under a tab or link on the home page.

Informational Websites Are Another Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics also show that informational websites are another major contributor to the proliferation of today’s misquote.  I categorize informational websites as any website that provides news and/or information about random or specific topics.  For example, I found today’s misquote on informational websites about women’s history, Margaret Fuller, and feminism.  Obviously, these administrators and contributors did not fact-check their data even though they represent themselves as experts on these subjects.  Again, never trust a quote found on ANY website—even if the website presents itself as an authority on a given topic.  The only exception is if the quote is accompanied by detailed original source information that can be easily verified.  Unfortunately, most quotes found anywhere on the internet are derived from either quote websites or modern quote books.

Modern Books Are Another Source of Misquotes

During my research, I came across 31 books that feature our misquote, and six of them are quote books.  As I’ve written before, if a quote book was compiled after the birth of the internet, it is most likely riddled with misinformation derived from quote websites and other contemporary quote books.  If a book does not provide detailed original source information with each quote, it is unreliable.  For example, if a quote is from Charles Dickens, the citation should include his name as well as the book and chapter in which the quote is found.  The name alone is not sufficient.

If the book is not a quote book, misquotes are often found at the beginning of each chapter, a style popular with contemporary authors.  Of course, misquotes are also found within the narrative of a book, usually preceded by the name of the cited author followed by the words, “once said,” “said” or “wrote.”  Again, if the book was written after the inception of the internet, the quote is not reliable.  The author most likely used a quote website as the source.  This does not mean that quote books written prior to the internet are infallible; it means they don’t feature as many errors as their modern counterparts.

Possible Cause of the Margaret Fuller Misattribution

The obvious assumption one would make about why Margaret Fuller gets credit for a Thomas Fuller quote is that they have the same last name.  (By the way, they are not related.)  In my experience researching quotes, I have noticed that authors with either the same last name or names that follow closely in an alphabetized list often get misattributed to each other.  My 03/31/15 post Edith Wharton vs. Edgar Watson Howe vs. Elbert Hubbard is a perfect example of this.  Notice these three first names would be grouped together in an alphabetized list.  I suspect that a quote website administrator copied quotes from an alphabetized list, and when the list transitioned from Edgar to Edith or to Elbert, the transcriptionist did not double-check to ensure the quote entered corresponded to the correct person.  My 07/17/14 post Kennedy Morphs into Keats: Another Reason to Get Your Inspirational Quotes from a Reliable Source is another example of this.  Of course, I am hypothesizing, but I have seen this alphabetical phenomenon many times.

Another Possible Cause of the Margaret Fuller Misattribution

Knowing what we know about misquote propagation, or the quote virus as I like to call it, another possible cause of the Margaret Fuller misattribution could stem back to a quote book titled A Dictionary of Thoughts (F. B. Dickerson Co., 1908) by Tryon Edwards.  Although the attribution in the book is correct, it is presented in a confusing fashion.  The Index of Authors at the beginning of the book lists three different Fullers:  Margaret, Thomas, and Richard.  The problem is each quote cites the last name only.  To figure out which Fuller is the correct one, the reader must consult the Authors’ Reference Index at the end of the book which specifies each author by page number.  Why Mr. Edwards chose to structure his book in such a convoluted manner is a mystery; it obviously required a lot of extra time, printing, and paper.  The end result is that the authors sharing the same last names get the short end of the stick because it is not eminently clear who said what.  My guess is somewhere in time, another person created a quote book and used Mr. Edwards’ quote book as a source and misinterpreted which Fuller went with which quote.  This is complete speculation on my part, and I could be wrong; however, after studying misquotes for many years, I can say there is a definite possibility I could be right.

By the way, today’s quote is not found in any of Fuller’s or Churchill’s writings in its original wording, current wording, or any combination thereof.

Most Amusing Finds

During my research, I came across a website that purports to be an authority on Margaret Fuller.  The funny thing is not only is the misquote featured on this website but all three of the most popular versions of it are featured, AND they are accompanied by a comment stating the quote is also attributed to Thomas Fuller, her father.  In reality, Margaret did not originate this quote, and her father was not named Thomas; his name was Timothy.  It cracks me up that two untruths are reported in one statement completely destroying the credibility of the entire website.

Another mildly amusing find appears on a website for The National Land Agency in Jamaica where a business manager writes that Margaret Fuller said this quote in 2007.  Apparently he did not get the memo that she died in 1850.  OK, maybe I’m being a bit harsh.  I actually think I know what happened.  I believe this person misinterpreted an attribution found on a quote website which reads as follows:  “Margaret Fuller, Woman’s Day Magazine, Sep. 12, 2007.”  This person probably thought the given date was when the quote was said.

Most Disappointing Finds

I am sad to report that our misquote appears on several websites involved with academia.  The National Education Association as well as various universities, such as Notre Dame and UCLA, feature the misquote on their websites.  I even came across the misquote in a thesis titled “An Examination of the Forgotten Poetry of Margaret Fuller” presented to the East Tennessee State University School of Graduate Studies Department of English for Master of Arts in English.  The misquote appears directly after a statement dedicating the thesis to Margaret Fuller.  Considering how much research goes into a thesis, I am shocked this candidate did not bother to research the quote from the person who is the very topic of the thesis.

For Sale

As usual, today’s misquote is available for purchase.  You can have your own misquote coffee mug for $18.90.  What a steal!

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus Together

Misquote propagation is a quote virus.  Just one occurrence of a misquote anywhere on the internet can spread like a virus to other websites.  Social media websites are the most fertile breeding grounds.  One person posts an infected quote, all of his/her followers get it, who spread it to all of their followers, who spread it to all of their followers ad infinitum.  The only way to kill the quote virus is through education.  Please help exterminate this modern-day scourge by sharing the knowledge.  Forward this post to friends and family, and if you’re on Facebook, “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Finally, remember to practice safe quoting by avoiding misquote-infested areas such as quote websites and contemporary quote books.  Never trust quotes that do not include detailed original source information.

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, Ralph Waldo Emerson did not write that.

Today’s post is about an inspirational quote that is often misworded and misattributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Read on to learn who really wrote it as well as who is spreading this inaccurate information across the internet and in modern literature.

The Misattributed and Misworded Quote Variations

“Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your promotion.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

These are the two most popular versions.  However, both versions can also be found with the word “own” either deleted or moved to the end of the sentence after the words, “except by your.”

The Correct Quote

“Your own mind is a sacred enclosure into which nothing harmful can enter except by your permission.”
Arnold Bennett
The Human Machine, chapter VI

Here is the quote found in The Human Machine by Arnold Bennett first published in 1908.  Note the heading title is “Lord over the Noddle.”

The Quote Found in 'The Human Machine' by Arnold Bennett with the Heading "Lord Over the Noddle"

The Quote Found in The Human Machine by Arnold Bennett with the Heading “Lord over the Noddle”

Here is the title page showing Arnold Bennett is the author.

Title Page of 'The Human Machine' by Arnold Bennett

Title Page of The Human Machine by Arnold Bennett

Here is the table of contents showing “Lord over the Noddle” is chapter VI.

Table of Contents Showing "Lord Over the Noddle" Is Chapter VI

Table of Contents Showing “Lord over the Noddle” Is Chapter VI

Statistics

After surveying 95 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
32%    Social media
25%    Corporation/corporate individual
14%    Quotes only
13%    Informational
5%     Quotes a major feature
4%     Academic/educational/school
3%     Topical group or discussion forum
2%     Organization
2%     Online app or service

Social Media Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

As we can see from the above statistics, social media websites are the most common place to find this misquote.  As I have written so many times before, the quote virus thrives on social media.  Every user that posts a misquote spreads it to all of his/her followers, who spread it to all of their followers, who spread it to all of their followers ad infinitum.  Eventually, we end up with a mutant quote pandemic that has people believing false information is fact because it has become so deeply entrenched throughout cyberspace and modern literature.

The lesson is when you receive a quote on social media, don’t believe it.  There is a good chance it is infected.  I personally have recently received several Abraham Lincoln quotes on Facebook, and all of them were false.

Quote Books Are Another Source of Misquotes

I found 12 books featuring our misquote, and three of them are quote books.  As I’ve discussed in prior posts, modern quote books are not a reliable source for quality quotes.  Most of them are compilations of quotes gathered from quote websites (third in the above statistics) and recently published quote books; both of which are notoriously riddled with inaccurate information.

Never trust a quote source if it does not provide detailed information with the quote.  The author/orator’s name alone is not sufficient.  It should be accompanied by the title of the work in which the quote is found along with applicable information such as chapter number, act, scene, line number, speech date, location, etc.

The Possible Cause of the Misattributed Quote

How this quote came to be attributed to Emerson is unknown.  However, during my research, I noticed the works of both authors are often featured within the same publication.  This includes periodicals and books from the late 1800s to today.  I even found several publications where quotes by both writers appear on the same page.  My guess is somewhere in time, a quote collector for a website or book found today’s quote in a publication featuring both authors and mistook which one wrote it.  Once the flawed data was published, the quote virus took over via social media and spread it throughout the universe.  Of course that is pure speculation, but it’s the best I can offer at this time.

My 11/30/14 post titled Edgar Allan Poe vs. Washington Irving is a similar situation where a quote by Irving gets attributed to Poe.  Both authors wrote in the same genre and time period, so both are often featured within the same publication.  As with today’s post, I’m guessing the origin of that misquote is similar.

Most Amusing Find

I came across a website that offers term papers, essays, and reports for free.  Today’s misquote is featured in one of the essays.  I guess that’s proof you really do get what you pay for.  [chuckle, wink]

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus

Much like a physiological virus with no vaccine, the quote virus can only be combated through education.  You can be part of the solution by sharing the knowledge.  Forward this post to friends and family, and if you’re on Facebook, please “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Finally, remember to practice safe quoting by never trusting quotes that do not include detailed source information.  Until next time,

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, that is not what Abraham Lincoln said.

Today’s post is about a wildly popular life quote that is often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln.  Follow along to learn who really said it as well as who is spreading this misinformation across the internet and in modern literature.

The Misattributed Quote Variations

“When I do good, I feel good.  When I do bad, I feel bad.  That’s my religion.”
Abraham Lincoln

“When I do good, I feel good.  When I don’t do good, I don’t feel good.”
Abraham Lincoln

The Correct Quote

“When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and that’s my religion.”
Unknown
Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, volume III, chapter XIV
William H. Herndon and Jesse William Weik

According to Herndon (Lincoln’s friend and law partner), Lincoln attributes this quote to an old man named Glenn in Indiana.  Since there have been multitudes of people named Glenn in Indiana and no other identifying information is provided, we can only attribute this quote to unknown.  Of course, it could be attributed to “old man Glenn in Indiana,” but this ultimately leads to “unknown.”  Here is the quote found in Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life, volume III, chapter XIV first published in 1889.

The Quote Found in Volume III, Chapter XIV of Herndon's Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life by William H. Herndon and Jesse William Weik

The Quote Found in Volume III, Chapter XIV of Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life by William H. Herndon and Jesse William Weik

Here is the title page.

Title Page of Herndon's Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life by William H. Herndon and Jesse William Weik

Title Page of Herndon’s Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life by William H. Herndon and Jesse William Weik

Statistics

The quote virus is having a field day with this quote.  After surveying 160 websites (and there were many more) featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
40%    Quotes only
15%    Quotes a major feature
15%    Informational
11%    Social media
5%     Corporation/corporate individual
4%     Online app or service
4%     Academic/educational/school
3%     Topical group or discussion forum
2%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
1%     Organization

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

Based on the above statistics, websites with the sole purpose of providing quotes are the main source of this misquote.  Also note that websites which provide quotes as a major feature of their functionality make up 15 percent.  Combine these two categories, and 55 percent of these websites are major quote repositories.  This means the main cause of the spread of this misinformation is online quote databases.

The moral of the story is never use a quote website as a source for quotes.  They are rife with inaccurate data and are extremely unreliable.

The Cause of the Misattributed Quote

The confusion with this quote is that, according to Herndon, Lincoln did indeed utter these words, but he prefaced them with an attribution to Glenn of Indiana.  Somewhere in time, this part of the quote got eliminated.  And without this key information, the assumption is that Lincoln himself said it.  Voila!  A misquote is born.

I found that most books during the late 1800s and early 1900s featuring this quote include the correct attribution; however, I did find one book titled Thomas Paine: The Apostle of Liberty by John E. Remsburg published by The Truth Seeker Company in 1917 that omitted the attribution.  I don’t know if this is exactly when the misquote started, but it may have contributed to it.

This Is Not the First Time This Has Happened

I have encountered this type of misquote metamorphosis before.  My 12/31/14 post Squire Bill Widener vs. Theodore Roosevelt is a similar situation.  Theodore Roosevelt clearly attributes a quote to Squire Bill Widener, but over time, this attribution is eliminated, and another misquote is born.

Hearsay Quotes Are Unreliable

Because this particular quote is not written or published by Lincoln himself and is merely an ear-witness account, it is hearsay which means its validity is weak.  As we all know, human memory is not always accurate, so when a quote is derived from someone claiming to have heard it, it is not reliable.  I’m not implying that today’s quote is untrue; I’m just pointing out that its source is weak.  For all we know, the wording is incorrect because Herndon had a bad memory, or maybe Glenn from Indiana is actually Ben from Alabama because Herndon was hard of hearing.  (smile, wink)  I’m just saying there are many things that can go wrong in the transfer of information from one human to another, so hearsay quotes aren’t as reliable as direct quotes.

Quote Books Are Another Source of Misquotes

I came across 37 books featuring today’s misquote, and four are quote books published between 2010 and 2014.  Similar to quote websites, modern quote books are also unreliable.  If a quote book is published after the inception of the internet, it is probably riddled with inaccurate information.  Unfortunately, most contemporary quote book authors use the internet as their data source.

The bottom line is only trust quote books that have detailed source information for each quote.  This means the name of the author/orator should be accompanied by the name of the work in which the quote is found along with applicable source information such as chapter, verse, act, scene, line, stanza, etc.

Most Amusing Finds

I came across a website with the tagline “Fighting Ignorance Since 1973.”  I find it humorous that while they’re fighting ignorance, this inaccurate information appears on their site.  I guess the fight will be going on for a while.

Here’s something that really cracked me up.  A few quote websites append “(unconfirmed)” to the misquote.  What’s hilarious is that NONE of the quotes on the website are confirmed!  In reality, this comment should be appended to EVERY quote on the website.  And, yes, I did spot other misquotes on each website featuring this comment.

Most Quote Websites Are Merely Compilations of Other Quote Websites

Apparently, some quote website administrator somewhere added “(unconfirmed)” to this misquote, and since most quote websites are duplicates of other quote websites, this new version is now beginning to take hold.  This is not surprising because separate quote websites often feature the exact same quotes in the exact same order with the exact same misquotes with the exact same typos.  As more and more quote websites are created, this duplication of misinformation spreads like a virus, and the next thing we know history is rewritten, and false data becomes fact.

Misquotes for Sale

As usual, our misquote is available for purchase.  For as little as $12.99, a canvas poster featuring the misquote in big, bold letters can be yours.  Or for the interior designer, you can beautify your home by applying the misquote in vinyl lettering directly to your walls for just $59.99.  Decisions!  Decisions!

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus

The quote virus lives and thrives on the internet.  It spreads its infection through quote websites and social media.  A single person can start an epidemic by posting one misquote anywhere on the internet.  If it is on social media, all followers spread it to their followers who spread it to their followers and so on.  If it is on a quote website, it will be copied to quote books, social media, and other quote websites.

The only way to kill the quote virus is through education.  You can be a part of the solution by sharing the knowledge.  If you’re on Facebook, you can “like” my Facebook fan page, and if you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.  If you’re not on social media, you can e-mail this article to friends and family.

Until next time,

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, Clara Barton did not write that.

Today’s post is about an inspirational quote that is not only misworded but is often misattributed to Clara Barton.  Read on to learn who really wrote it as well as who is spreading this untruth across the internet and in modern literature.

The Misattributed and Misworded Quote Variations

“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better.”
Clara Barton

“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent, and a faith in the possibility of something better.  It irritates me to be told how things have always been done.  I defy the tyranny of precedent.  I go for anything new that might improve the past.”
Clara Barton

“I have an almost complete disregard of precedent and a faith in the possibility of something better.  It irritates me to be told how things always have been done … I defy the tyranny of precedent.  I cannot afford the luxury of a closed mind.  I go for anything new that might improve the past.”
Clara Barton

The Correct Quote

I have underlined the sections that are used to create the misquote.

One of Clara Barton’s most outstanding qualities was her almost complete disregard of precedent.  The fact that a thing had always been done in a given way was evidence to her that it could be done again in that fashion, but was of almost no value to her as proving that that was the best way to do it.  She always had faith in the possibility of something betterIt irritated her to be told how things always had been done.  She knew that a very large proportion of things that have been done since the creation have been blunderingly done, and she was always ready to listen to suggestions of better ways.  Having once decided upon a course that defied the tyranny of precedent, she held true to her declaration of independence, and saw her experiment through.

In this she was not reckless or iconoclastic.  She simply forbade herself the cheap luxury of a closed mind.  If no better way presented itself, she was content with the old way of doing.  But she was eager for any new thing that might improve upon the past.  Hers was preeminently a forward-looking mind and a soul with face ever toward the sunrise.

William Eleazar Barton
The Life of Clara Barton
Volume II, chapter XVIII

Here is the quote found in The Life of Clara Barton, volume II, chapter XVIII by William Eleazar Barton (Clara’s cousin).

The First Part of the Correct Quote Found in 'The Life of Clara Barton' volume II, chapter XVIII by William Eleazar Barton

The First Part of the Correct Quote Found in The Life of Clara Barton
volume II, chapter XVIII by William Eleazar Barton

The Last Part of the Correct Quote Found in 'The Life of Clara Barton' volume II, chapter XVIII by William Eleazar Barton

The Last Part of the Correct Quote Found in The Life of Clara Barton
volume II, chapter XVIII by William Eleazar Barton

Here is the title page.

Title Page of 'The Life of Clara Barton' by William Eleazar Barton

Title Page of The Life of Clara Barton by William Eleazar Barton

Statistics
After surveying 103 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
32%    Quotes only
21%    Social media
18%    Informational
7%     Quotes a major feature
5%     Organization
4%     Corporation/corporate individual
4%     Online app or service
4%     Academic/educational/school
3%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
2%     Topical group or discussion forum

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

Based on the above statistics, the main source of today’s misquote are websites that specialize solely in providing quotes.  As we’ve seen in so many of my previous posts, this is not a surprise.  Also note the 7% of websites that provide quotes as a major feature of their functionality.  If we add these two categories together, 39% of the sites featuring this misquote are quotes-only databases.  Clearly, quote websites are the worst place to go when searching for quotes.

Social Media Is Another Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics also show that social media websites are the second major source of propagation for today’s misquote.  This too fits the pattern seen in so many of my previous posts.  Unfortunately, social media is the breeding ground for the quote virus.  Each time one person posts a misquote, all of his/her followers get it, and then all of their followers get it and so on and so forth.  It is like an infection that spreads and eventually becomes an epidemic.  Unfortunately, in many cases, the untruth mutates into the truth and becomes gospel.  This appears to be the case with Barton’s misquote.

The bottom line is beware of those cute memes that are posted and pinned in social media.  Many of them are infected.

Nursing Career Books Are Another Source of Today’s Misquote

Because Clara Barton was a nurse who founded the American Red Cross, it seems it is incumbent upon nursing career books to feature this misquote.  One would think books that are composed of facts and figures for the purpose of education would contain nothing but fact-checked data.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  I came across 20 books featuring our misquote, and 10 of them are books on the subject of nursing.  Apparently, this misquote has been around for so long that even educators accept it as truth.

The Cause of the Misattributed Quote

Today’s misquote was created by piecing together various phrases contained within two paragraphs of William E. Barton’s book The Life of Clara Barton.  In these paragraphs, he is describing Clara from his perspective.  This does not mean that she said or wrote these words; rather, they are the author’s words describing his perception of her.

Apparently, somewhere along the line, someone decided to cherry-pick bits and pieces of these paragraphs and then insert the word “I” to give the impression that Clara actually wrote them.  I’m not sure why someone would do this, but as I’ve written before, it only takes one person to set the quote virus in motion.

By the way, Clara did author a few books, and the misquote does not occur in any of them.

Most Disappointing Find

I came across a dissertation online that cites this misquote.  This dissertation is for Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing in the Graduate Division of the University of California San Francisco.  I am disappointed that academia is contributing to the propagation of this misquote.  After all, these are the people who research, prove and teach facts.  It’s a shame that they are part of the misquote epidemic because many of these misquotes alter history and give credit where credit isn’t due.

Most Amusing Finds

I find it amusing that the misquote itself is about breaking precedents, yet the nursing field continues the precedent of using this misquote even though it is incorrect. Oh the irony.

I also find it amusing that there are a few websites that cite the source of this misquote from another quote website.  Talk about the blind leading the blind!  (chuckle, giggle, wink)

Quote Books Are Another Source of Misquotes

During my research, I came across one quote book that featured this misquote.  As I’ve mentioned before, modern quote books are just as unreliable as quote websites.  I would bet most of them were written using quote websites as a source.  If a book does not feature detailed source information with the quote, it is not trustworthy.  Citing the name of the author/orator alone is not sufficient.  Details such as the name of the work in which the quote is found should be accompanied by applicable information such as the chapter, act, scene, line number, etc.

Misquotes for Sale

As with my previous posts, I came across today’s misquote for sale.  A wooden bookmark with the engraved misquote can be had for $7.50.  Additionally, a money clip for nurses featuring the misquote is available for just $19.95.  What a deal!

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus

Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for the quote virus.  It can only be eradicated through education and safe quoting.  You can be a part of the solution by sharing the knowledge.  Also, if you’re on Facebook, you can “like” my Facebook fan page, and if you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Finally, remember to practice safe quoting by never trusting quotes that do not have detailed source information.

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, Leonardo da Vinci did not write that.

Today’s post is about a wildly popular inspirational quote that is often misworded and misattributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  Follow along to learn who really wrote it as well as who is spreading this misinformation across the internet.

The Misattributed and Misworded Quote Variations

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
Leonardo da Vinci

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
Thomas Paine

“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection.”
Thomas Paine

“I love the man that can smile at trouble; that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
Thomas Paine

The Correct Quote

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
Thomas Paine
The American Crisis, No. I
December 1776

The American Crisis is a series of 16 essays by Thomas Paine published from 1776–1783 under the pseudonym Common Sense.  Thirteen of the essays are numbered, and the quote appears in essay number 1.

Here is the quote found on page 176 in G. P. Putnam’s Sons 1912 publication of Common Sense Together with The American Crisis.

The Quote Found in 'Common Sense Together with The American Crisis' (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1912)

The Quote Found in Common Sense Together with The American Crisis (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1912)

Here is the beginning of essay number 1 on page 170.  Note the famous first sentence.

The beginning of "The Crisis, No. 1" with the Famous First Sentence "These are the times that try men's souls"

The First Paragraph of “The Crisis, No. 1” with the Famous First Sentence

Here is the title page of the publication.

The Title Page of 'Common Sense Together with The American Crisis' (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1912)

The Title Page of Common Sense Together with The American Crisis (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1912)

The Library of Congress has a copy of the original pamphlet published in Boston titled “The American Crisis (No. 1).”  The quote appears in the third column at the end of the 23rd line (which begins with “might have saved”).

If this link does not work, you can find the document by following these steps:

1.  Go to the Library of Congress website (www.loc.gov)
2.  Enter “The American Crisis (No. 1)” in the search bar
3.  Click on the link to the document
4.  Click on the document image
5.  Click the “+” button to zoom in for better viewing

This Misquote Is Often Cited As Two Sentences

In the above-referenced copy of the original pamphlet, the wording and punctuation of the quote and the subsequent sentence are as follows:

“I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.  ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”

Compare this correct version to the most popular misattributed versions (I have underlined the incorrect wording and punctuation):

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.  ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

The Most Popular Versions Are Not Only Misattributed but Are Misworded

The comparisons above demonstrate that the most popular versions of this misquote are misattributed AND misworded.  Some may think slight rewording or paraphrasing is acceptable; however, I absolutely object to that when it comes to important historical documents such as The American Crisis.  It is a shame that it is Americans, for the most part, who are attributing this quote to someone other than Thomas Paine.  Rewriting the words just adds insult to injury.

Statistics
After surveying 150 websites featuring today’s misquote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
35%    Quotes only
27%    Social media
14%    Informational
8%     Corporation/Corporate Individual
7%     Quotes a major feature
5%     Online app or service
2%     Topical group or discussion forum
1%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
1%     Organization

Quote Websites Are the Main Source of Today’s Misquote

Based on the above statistics, the main source of today’s misquote are websites that specialize solely in providing quotes.  The 7% of websites that provide quotes as a major feature of their functionality should also be noted.  These two categories together mean 42% of the sites featuring this misquote are major databases specializing in quotes.  This is a classic example of what’s known in computer science as GIGO (garbage in, garbage out).  In other words, if the quality of the input is garbage, the quality of the output is garbage.  And for some reason, the vast majority of websites that specialize in quotes have no quality control whatsoever.  In fact, many of them allow any user to add any data at any time.  In a nutshell, these websites should be avoided at all costs.

Social Media Is Another Source of Today’s Misquote

The above statistics also show that social media is the second major source of propagation for today’s misquote.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the quote virus quickly and easily spreads its germs through social media.  Every user that posts a misquote spreads it to all of his/her followers, who spread it to all of their followers, who spread it to all of their followers, etc.  The bottom line is never trust a quote sent to you via social media.  There’s a high probability it is infected.

We May Have an Incubating Mutant

During my research, I came across an Instagram post featuring the misquote attributed to Thomas Paine.  I then noticed underneath it another user posted the comment, “I think that’s a Da Vinci or DiCaprio quote.”  Knowing how social media works, I wouldn’t be surprised if a new mutation emerges in the near future attributing the misquote to Leonardo DiCaprio.  Stay tuned.

Most Amusing Finds

My most amusing find is a Leonardo da Vinci website that features today’s misquote.  The sole purpose of this website is to provide information about Leonardo da Vinci and only Leonardo da Vinci.  One would think with a subject-matter scope this narrow all data provided would be verified.  Unfortunately, this bit of misinformation makes all information on the website suspect.

My second amusing find is a book of Leonardo da Vinci quotes published in 2013, and you guessed it; our misquote is proudly featured in the book.  One has to wonder why anyone would go through all the effort to publish a book and not fact-check any of the data.  The end result is a book that has no credibility, and the author becomes another carrier in today’s misinformation epidemic.  Unfortunately, the advent of quick and easy self-publishing has contributed heavily to this modern-day plague.

Most Disappointing Finds

I was very disappointed to see today’s misquote featured as the “Quote of the Week” on a blog written by K-12 principals and school administrators.  One would think educators would be a little more diligent about the information they are conveying.

I was also disappointed to find a scrapbooking website based in Ohio that features today’s misquote on a list of suggested quotes to use.  Not only is the quote misworded, but it is attributed to Thomas Payne instead of Paine.  It is sad that the name of a well-known, important historical figure in American history is misspelled, and no one has noticed or bothered to correct it since 2013 when the site was established.

Quote Books Often Feature Misquotes

I came across seven quote books featuring today’s misquote.  The publication dates range from 2003 to 2015.  Unfortunately, most modern quote books are merely compilations of quotes obtained from the internet and other previously published quote books.  If there is no accompanying detailed source information with each quote, the book should not be trusted.  Citing the writer/orator’s name alone is not sufficient.  The source information should include the name of the work in which the quote is found followed by applicable information such as chapter, act, scene, stanza, line, etc.

Misquotes Can Be Found in a Wide Variety of Books

I also found today’s misquote in 11 books that are not specifically about quotes.  The publication dates range from 2007 to 2015, and the topics vary from fiction to spirituality to stress management to water-and-waste management.

Misquotes for Sale

As always, I found our misquote available for purchase.  For $15.95 you can have your own misquote coffee mug.  If you prefer something a little more artsy, a canvas misquote poster can be yours for just $59.00.  It’s amazing how many flawed merchandise options there are!

Let’s Kill the Quote Virus

The quote virus can only be killed through education and safe quoting.  You can help by sharing the knowledge with your family and friends.  Also, if you’re on Facebook, you can “like” my Facebook fan page, and if you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.

Finally, remember to practice safe quoting by never trusting quotes on quote websites or social media.  Also be wary of quote books that don’t have detailed source information.  Until next time,

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

No, Jane Austen did not write that.

Today’s post is about a love quote that is often misattributed to Jane Austen.  Read on to learn who really wrote it as well as who is propagating this misinformation across the internet.

The Misattributed Quote

“To love is to burn, to be on fire.”
Jane Austen

The Correct Quote

“To love is to burn, to be on fire.”
Emma Thompson
Sense and Sensibility screenplay
Director Ang Lee
Columbia Pictures, 1995

The Quote Can Also Be Found in Emma Thompson’s Book

The entire screenplay is included in Emma Thompson’s book Sense and Sensibility: the Screenplay & Diaries currently published by Newmarket Press for It Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.  Please note the original book is titled The Sense and Sensibility Screenplay & Diaries: Bringing Jane Austen’s Novel to Film published by Newmarket Press in 1995.  HarperCollins subsequently acquired the rights.

Statistics

After surveying 65 websites featuring the misattributed quote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
62%    Social media
12%    Quotes only
8%     Corporation/Corporate individual
8%     Topical Group or Discussion Forum
5%     Informational
3%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
1%     Academic/Educational/School
1%     Quotes a major feature

The Source of the Misattributed Quote

Based on the above statistics, by far the main source of today’s misquote is social media.  As I’ve mentioned before, the quote virus loves to spread its disease through social media.  As we know, all it takes is one person posting a misquote on his/her favorite social media site to begin the epidemic.  All of his/her followers receive the infected quote who then spread it to all of their followers who spread it to their followers ad infinitum.

For example, I came across a blog featuring the misquote by itself as a blog post.  I analyzed the statistics listed underneath the post and found it was reblogged 87 times and liked 112 times.  Just imagine how many of those reblogs and likes were subsequently reblogged and liked which were subsequently reblogged and liked.  And this is from a single person.  This is one of the main reasons there are so many misquotes floating around in cyber world.

The bottom line is never believe quotes that are sent to you via social media, yes, even if they’re from your family and friends.

The Cause of the Misattributed Quote

Because the 1995 Sense and Sensibility film is based on the 1811 Sense and Sensibility book, it is easy to understand how the film quote came to be misattributed to the book.  However, these two pieces of art have two separate creators.  Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay, and Jane Austen wrote the book.

As I have mentioned before, just because a film is based on a book does not mean that the entire dialog is verbatim from the book.  If this were the case, the film duration would never fit within a two-hour timeframe.  It is up to the screenwriter to condense the story and dialog into a reasonable feature-film length.  And this is what Emma Thompson did with Jane Austen’s book.

If you are interested in hearing the quote in the movie, it occurs at 19 minutes 24 seconds.  Marianne (played by Kate Winslet) says it to her mother, Mrs. Dashwood (played by Gemma Jones).  Please note, if you happen to view it on a free movie-streaming website, make sure the run time is the full 2 hours and 16 minutes; otherwise, the scene will not occur at the 19-minute mark.

In short, because this quote occurs in the film and does not appear in the book, Emma Thompson is the correct author of the quote.

Screenwriters Often Do Not Get Credit for Their Quotes

My 08/31/15 post titled No, Charles Dickens did not write that and my 06/18/14 post titled F. Scott Fitzgerald Gets Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due are two more examples of screenwriters not getting credit for their quotes.

Most Amusing Finds

I came across a book titled Jane Austen Quotes and Facts.  One of the “facts” is that Austen wrote the misquote.  Hmm . . . I wonder where the author did his “research.”

I also encountered an article in a local news magazine for a city in Massachusetts in which the author claims one of her “favorite novels written by Jane Austen” is Sense and Sensibility.  This author then proceeds to attribute the misquote to Austen and then misspells two characters’ names (Edward Ferrars is spelled Edward Farrows, and Elinor is spelled Eleanor).  Given these are two of the main characters whose names occur repeatedly in the story, one wonders how many times she actually read the book.

Finally, I found our misquote for sale on an apron for $25.55.  Not only is it amusing that flawed merchandise has a price of $25.55, but it is also amusing that an apron features a quote that is about burning and being on fire.  I suppose if you’re really into cooking flambé, it would be a great fit.  But I would think most cooks wouldn’t want to accompany their culinary efforts with the words “burn” and “on fire” (smile, wink, chuckle).

For Sale

Conveniently, today’s misquote is widely available for purchase online.  You can spend as little as $3.70 for a greeting card or as much as $46.95 for a traveler water bottle.  What a deal!

Kill the Quote Virus

The quote virus can only be exterminated through education.  You can be part of the solution by sharing the knowledge.  Please forward this post to family and friends, or if you’re on Facebook, “like” my Facebook fan page.  If you’re on Twitter, you can follow me @SueBrewton.  Remember to practice safe quoting and

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”