Just who did you say said that?

The internet is a wonderful source for finding quotes, and for finding that numerous people have said the same thing (or at least that the same phrase gets attributed to numerous people). This quote is a good case in point. While finishing up my work on this column I received a short e-mail message from my brother that serendipitously contained (only) that quote (almost word for word). Except that it was attributed to Albert Einstein.

I have a couple of basic rules of thumb that I go by when trying to determine the authenticity of a quote:

  1. if a printed attribution (from before web popularity) and a webbed attribution conflict, the printed attribution is more trustworthy
  2. if the quote is attributed both to a lesser known person and to a very famous person, the lesser known attribution is more trustworthy
In this particular case, my rules apply: David C. Hazen, though highly respected in his field (aerospace) is not a world renowned figure, and I have a book that carries the quote (attributed to him) that was printed in 1967. So with all due respect to Einstein (and the opportunity for even more name dropping), I'll stick with Hazen on this one.

Go to: The Unbearable Linearity of Learning