This week’s Website of the Week, is How to Research a Quotation by Sharon Rickson at the New York Public Library.
What do all the following quotations have in common?
“Not everything that counts can be counted.”
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
“Two things inspire me to awe–the starry heavens above and the moral universe within.”
“Education is that which remains, if one has forgotten everything he learned in school.”
“When you sit with a nice girl for two hours you think it’s only a minute, but when you sit on a hot stove for a minute you think it’s two hours. That’s relativity.”
None of them were ever said by Albert Einstein!
The nature of the internet, Social Media and search algorithms means that the attribution of authorship for a particular quote or saying seems to gain authority each time it is read, shared, repeated and re-shared. Often the wording, the original source or the actual author of the quotation itself becomes confused, misattributed or completely lost. In place of a definitive author and source for even famous quotations, people tend to repeat and share exactly what they first read without researching or checking if the details are correct and verifiable.
Like a snowball gathering weight and mass as it travels downhill, many now famous quotes are still being wrongly associated with famous figures as they continue to be re-posted and re-shared via Social Media and the Internet.
This excellent NYPL article gives us plenty of tips and tricks to help identify and confirm who actually said or wrote that quote you want to use.
He Said, She Said….
or did they?
Some more Quote Hunting Resources:
“Hemingway Didn’t Say That: The Truth Behind Familiar Quotations.” by Garson O’Toole