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.”

©Sue Brewton

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.”

©Sue Brewton

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.”

©Sue Brewton

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.”

©Sue Brewton

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.”

©Sue Brewton

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.”

©Sue Brewton

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.”

©Sue Brewton

J. M. Barrie Love Quote Is Actually Not about Love

Today’s post is about a J. M. Barrie quote that is often misworded resulting in a completely different quote with a completely different meaning.  The quote is actually about the topic of charm, but the reworded quote leads us to believe it is about love.  Follow along to learn who is propagating this falsehood.

The Most Popular Misworded Quote Variations

“If you have it [love], you don’t need to have anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have it [love], you don’t need anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have love, you don’t need to have anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have love, you don’t need to have anything else.  If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you do have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have love, you don’t need anything else.  If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you do have.”
J. M. Barrie

“If you have it (love), you don’t need to have anything else, and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter much what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie

The Correct Quote

“If you have it, you don’t need to have anything else; and if you don’t have it, it doesn’t much matter what else you have.”
J. M. Barrie
What Every Woman Knows, Act I

More Misquote Variations

I have researched many misquotes, but I have to say this particular one has more variations than any other I have seen thus far.  The variations listed above are the most popular, but they come in many other flavors.  Some have additional words inserted; some have words deleted; some have words rearranged, and some have all three.  Some are split into two separate sentences; some are not.  Punctuation varies widely.

However, there is one thing they all have in common, and that is the word “love” has been erroneously inserted into the beginning phrase.  Here are some variations not listed above:

Love:  If you have it . . .
Love… If you have it . . .
Love, if you have it . . .
Love? If you have it . . .

Exactly when someone decided to introduce love into this quote, I don’t know.  But what I do know is that this quote is not about love.  Surprise!

This Quote Is Not about Love

A few years after the successful release of his play Peter Pan, J. M. (James Matthew) Barrie wrote a comedy titled What Every Woman Knows.  This quote is from Act I of that play.  The quote is part of a reply by the character, Maggie, to a question posed to her about charm.  What follows are pages 14 and 15 of the 1918 publication of the play.  Note the question about charm is at the bottom of page 14 highlighted in pink followed by the quote, found in Maggie’s reply, at the top of page 15 highlighted in yellow.

Page 14 of J. M. Barrie's 'What Every Woman Knows' Showing the Topic Is Charm

Page 14 of J. M. Barrie’s ‘What Every Woman Knows’ Showing the Topic Is Charm

The Quote on Page 15 of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie's 'What Every Woman Knows'

The Quote on Page 15 of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie’s ‘What Every Woman Knows’

Here is the title page:

Title Page of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie's 'What Every

Title Page of 1918 Publication of J. M. Barrie’s ‘What Every Woman Knows’

This Quote Is about Charm

As you can see, the context of the quote is the topic of charm and what exactly it is.  I can only speculate as to how it came to be about love.  My guess is that it has something to do with an earlier conversation in the play.  Prior to meeting Maggie, the male characters have a discussion about love; perhaps this is how it gets associated with the quote.

Statistics

After surveying 113 websites featuring the misworded quote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
26%    Quotes only
23%    Social Media
21%    Informational
8%     Corporation/corporate individual
8%     Topical group or discussion forum
6%     Online app or service
4%     Quotes a major feature
2%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
2%     Academic/educational/school

The Sources of the Misworded Quote

Based on the above statistics, websites that specialize solely in quotes are the biggest offenders.  As we’ve seen in so many of my previous posts, this is extremely common.  I must reiterate that these sites should never be used as a resource for quotes.

Social media websites are a very close second.  This means you should never trust a quote that is sent to you via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any other social media site.  As we have learned before, the quote virus does its best work through social media.  When one person posts a contaminated quote, it spreads to all of his/her followers who spread it to all of their followers and so on and so forth.

Informational websites come in third which is unusual.  Typically this category falls into a single-digit percentage.  To date, I’ve only researched three other misquotes with informational websites ranking in double-digit percentages.  The moral of this story is even websites dealing with facts such as news, statistics, and other data can be infected with misquotes.

Modern Quote Books Feature Misquotes

I came across six books published in the 2000s featuring today’s misquote.  One of them was a quotes-only book.  I must reiterate if a quote book does not provide detailed source information for each quote, it is not reliable.  The name attribution alone is not sufficient.  It should be accompanied by the work in which the quote is found followed by applicable information such as chapter, act, scene, stanza, line, etc.

Many authors create their quote books by simply compiling quotes they’ve collected from unreliable sources.  Additionally, many of them further complicate things when they transcribe the quotes incorrectly resulting in misworded, misattributed, inaccurate data.  This creates a breeding ground for the quote virus: one reader copies the infected quote onto one of his/her social media websites which then infects all of his/her followers who infect all of their followers ad infinitum.

For Sale

As usual, today’s misworded quote is available for purchase.  I came across a wall art company selling it for $20 to $50 depending on size.  The artwork is actually very creative and beautiful.  What a shame that it’s flawed.

Kill the Quote Virus

Today’s misquote demonstrates how the quote virus can change the entire meaning of a quote by adding a new word to it.  This mutated version then travels across the internet multiplying and spawning new strains as it goes.  You can help exterminate this modern-day pestilence by sharing the knowledge.  Please forward this post to family and friends, “like” my Facebook fan page or follow me @SueBrewton on Twitter. Until next time, practice safe quoting and

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

William Wordsworth vs. Bertrand Russell

Today’s post concerns a popular motivational quote that is often misattributed and misworded.

The Misattributed and Misworded Quote

“What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.”
William Wordsworth

“What we need is not the will to believe, but the wish to find out.”
Bertrand Russell

The Correct Quote

“What is wanted is not the will-to-believe, but the wish to find out, which is its exact opposite.”
Bertrand Russell
“Free Thought and Official Propaganda” speech
Delivered at South Place Institute in London, England on March 24, 1922

“Free Thought and Official Propaganda” Is the Work of Origin

Most sources with the correct attribution cite Sceptical Essays, published in 1928, as the work in which to find the quote.  It is a collection of Russell’s essays and includes his 1922 speech “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” as an essay.  This speech was also published in 1922 as a book.  While it is not incorrect to cite Sceptical Essays as the source, I prefer to use the name of the speech “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” as it is more specific and is the work in which the quote originated.

There Are Two Versions Attributed to Bertrand Russell

Note the wording in the second misquote.  It appears that somewhere along the line, someone realized this quote is from Bertrand Russell and corrected the name attribution but did not correct the wording.  And as we have learned from all my previous posts, the quote virus took over, and this new version propagated.  This is why there are two versions of the quote attributed to Russell.

Here is the correct quote found in “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” by Bertrand Russell.

The Quote Found in 'Free Thought and Official Propaganda' by Bertrand Russell

The Quote Found in ‘Free Thought and Official Propaganda’ by Bertrand Russell

Here is the title page of “Free Thought and Official Propaganda” by Bertrand Russell.

Title Page of 'Free Thought and Official Propaganda' by Bertrand Russell

Title Page of ‘Free Thought and Official Propaganda’ by Bertrand Russell

Statistics

After surveying seventy-eight websites featuring the misattributed quote, I found the following trends.

PercentageType of Website
44%    Quotes only
17%    Quotes a major feature
10%    Corporate individual or company
9%     Academic/educational/school
9%     Social media
4%     Informational
3%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
3%     Online service/app
1%     Organization or discussion forum

The Source of the Misattributed Quote

Once again, the statistics tell the same story.  It is the websites dedicated to quotes only that are the major source of this misquote.  Coming in second place are websites that feature extensive quote collections in addition to other topics.  Even though it would seem that a website which specializes in quotes would be the best resource for quotes, the statistics clearly indicate otherwise.

Sadly, tied for fourth place are educational institutions.  This shows how powerful the quote virus is.  Even the hallowed halls of academia are not immune to its infection.

Another Possible Misattribution on the Horizon

I came across an addiction information website that attributes the quote to William Shakespeare.  I thought this was odd as I had never seen this attribution before.  So I did a little bit of research to see if I could find where this information may have originated.  The possible answer is a book of quotes published in 2002 which features Russell’s quote just prior to a Shakespeare quote.  I am guessing the addiction website administrator read it and misunderstood which quote went with which author and posted it erroneously on the website.  Yes, I realize there’s a joke here, but I can’t bring myself to write it, so we will just have to silently chuckle to ourselves.  Any way, this may sound like an outlandish conclusion, but based on how the quote virus works, it is a definite possibility.  Who knows—this could be the beginning of a new viral strain and within a year or two, we may see a third version of the quote commonly attributed to Shakespeare.

Quote Books Are Not Always Reliable

I found today’s misquote in a quote book published in 2014.  Much like quote websites, just because a book specializes in quotes, does not mean it is a reliable resource.  Unfortunately, most modern quote books are compilations of previous quote books which are compilations of previous quote books and so on and so forth.  Additionally, most modern quote books also contain compilations of quotes found on quote websites.  Because of all this duplication, miswording and misattributions are propagated ad infinitum.  As I’ve mentioned before, a quote that only provides a name attribution is not reliable.  It should also include the title of the work in which the quote is found as well as relevant information such as chapter, act, scene, line number, stanza, etc.

Most Disappointing Find

It is so disheartening to see educational institutions propagating misquotes.  One of the more disturbing finds is a school librarian who uses the misattributed quote on her library web page.  I also found another school’s English department using it on their web page.  And most egregious of all is a university professor and poetry editor of a national literary journal who uses it in one of his books.

Most Amusing Find

I discovered a religious website featuring today’s misquote.  The irony is that the true originator, Bertrand Russell, was not a fan of religion.  He not only considered himself agnostic and atheist but he wrote many essays on the topic.

For Sale

As with most other popular quotes, today’s misattributed quote is available for purchase.  I came across a website selling the misquote on t-shirts for $28.01.  I found another one offering posters for $12.20.  The bonus is that you get two for the price of one—misattributed AND misworded.  What a deal!

Kill the Quote Virus

Only you, dear reader, can help exterminate the quote virus.  Like a physiological virus, the best weapons are education and prevention.  You can educate by sharing the knowledge.  Share this post with your family and friends or “like” my Facebook fan page or follow me on Twitter.  You can prevent infection by never using a quote from a quote website and never trusting a quote that does not include detailed source information.  The name attribution alone is not sufficient.  For a complete list of prevention tips, visit my “What You Can Do” page.

Until next time,

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton

Edith Wharton vs. Edgar Watson Howe vs. Elbert Hubbard

Today’s post covers an inspirational quote that is falsely attributed to three different people.  Although it is not as widespread as most of the other misquotes I’ve written about, its mutations are worth mentioning.

The Misattributed and Misworded Quote and Its Variations

“To know when to be generous and when firm—that is wisdom.”
Edith Wharton

“To know when to be generous and when firm—this is wisdom.”
Edgar Watson Howe

“To know when to be generous and when firm—this is wisdom.”
Edgar Watson

The Correct Quote

“To know when to be generous, and when firm—this is wisdom.”
Elbert Hubbard
Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators
“Antony”

Here is the quote found in “Antony,” the second booklet in the Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators series first published in 1903:

The Quote Found in “Antony,” the Second Booklet in the Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators Series

The Quote Found in “Antony,” the Second Booklet in the Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators Series

Little Journeys to the Homes of Eminent Orators is actually a subseries under the overarching series titled Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great which was published monthly from December 1894 to 1910.  There are a total of fifteen subseries each focused on a specific category such as artists, philosophers, and scientists.  Here is the complete list for the 1903 eminent orators subseries showing Mark Antony as the second subject:

“Antony” Found in the List of the 1903 Eminent Orators Subseries

“Antony” Found in the List of the 1903 Eminent Orators Subseries

Here is the title page for the “Antony” issue:

Title Page of “Antony” Showing Elbert Hubbard as Author

Title Page of “Antony” Showing Elbert Hubbard as Author

Statistics

After surveying 40 infected websites, I found the following statistics.

PercentageType of Website
67%    Quotes-only (21) or Quotes a major feature (6)
17%    Social media
10%    Topical group/forum
3%     Quotes paraphernalia for purchase
3%     Online service/app

As usual, the overwhelming majority of websites featuring the misquote are quotes-only websites.  I must reiterate:  never use a quote website as a source for quotes.  They are notoriously unreliable.

The Cause of the Miswording

Many quote websites contain the exact same quotes, misquotes, and typos in the exact same order found on other quote websites.  In other words, there is widespread duplication of error.  For example, notice today’s misquote has two versions of wording.  The Edith Wharton misquote ends with the words “that is wisdom” while the Edgar Watson Howe versions end with the correct words “this is wisdom.”  Obviously, the transcriptionist who entered the Edith Wharton misquote misread the ending and unknowingly created a new “standardized” version.  I could find no instances of the Edith Wharton misquote that end with the correct wording.  Similarly, I could find no instances of the Edgar Watson Howe versions that end with the incorrect wording.  Furthermore, notice the Edgar Watson typo that is also duplicated across websites.  Clearly, the transcriptionist inadvertently omitted Howe, and this version is now beginning to propagate across the internet.  It only takes one person to begin the proliferation of the exact same error across all quote websites.  The administrators simply copy content from each other without checking for accuracy.

The Cause of the Misattribution

The quote virus got very creative and transformed this quote into a three-headed mutant.  The first head belongs to Edith Wharton who garnered 19 misattributions out of the 40 researched.  The second head belongs to Edgar Watson Howe who acquired 17 misattributions, and the third head belongs to Edgar Watson who collected four.

The question is why are these three people involved with this misquote?  Why these three?  My answer is the letter “E.”  Notice that all three first names as well as the correct author, Elbert Hubbard, begin with the letter “E.”  This is complete conjecture on my part, but I have encountered this alphabetical pattern on quotes websites many times.  I suspect that a quote website administrator was copying quotes from an alphabetized list in which Edgar Watson Howe or Edith Wharton occurred just prior to Elbert Hubbard, and when the list transitioned from Edgar or Edith to Elbert, the transcriptionist did not double check to ensure the quote entered corresponded with the correct person.  My July 17, 2014 post titled “Kennedy Morphs into Keats:  Another Reason to Get Your Inspirational Quotes from a Reliable Source” also features this phenomenon.  In this instance, it involves the last names of Keats and Kennedy.

The second question is how did the unknown Edgar Watson get involved with this misquote?  Clearly, the most well-known of the three is Edith Wharton (1862–1937), the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Age of Innocence, Ethan Frome, and The House of Mirth.  Edgar Watson Howe (1853–1937) is not quite as renowned, but he did leave his mark as an American author as well as founder and editor of local newspapers and a magazine.  And then there’s the mysterious Edgar Watson.  The only Edgar Watson of note that I could find was Edgar J. Watson (1855–1910) of the Florida Everglades who was supposedly responsible for several murders.  Based on this information and the fact that he only received four misattributions, I am going to assume this “person” is the result of a typo.  Somewhere along the line, a quote website administrator inadvertently omitted “Howe” while entering data on a website and consequently created a new “person” in the world of quotes.  This is speculation on my part, but I have a feeling I’m right.  One thing we do know is that the quote virus will be infecting other websites with this misquote in the near future, and Edgar Watson will become a real person.

Most Amusing Find

I came across a quotes paraphernalia website featuring today’s misquote attributed to Edgar Watson—not Edgar Watson Howe or Edith Wharton or Elbert Hubbard—but Edgar Watson ONLY.  For $14.99 you can have your own misquote coffee mug.  For $29.99 you can get a misquote smart phone case (actually dumb phone case is a better description).  If you really want to splurge, you can have your own misquote framed art print for $39.99.  I wonder what the people at this company would think if they knew Edgar Watson was a serial killer.  Oh come on.  You’ve got to admit; that is amusing.

Kill the Quote Virus

Once again, we have seen the damage the quote virus can inflict.  To avoid being infected, be sure to practice safe quoting.  Never trust a quote that does not have complete source information.  The author/orator’s name should be accompanied by the work in which the quote is found along with applicable information such as chapter, verse, stanza, line, scene, act, etc.  Never trust a quote posted on social media, including the ones with the title, “Yes!  He actually said this.”  Don’t believe it.

Finally, the best way to kill the virus is through education.  Please help spread the knowledge by forwarding this article to friends and family.  Additionally, authors and speakers often use quotes in their work and unknowingly are the cause of misquote propagation.  If you happen to know any, please share the knowledge with them.

Until next time, don’t forget to

“Be the antidote and don’t misquote.”

©Sue Brewton