Famous Quotes, False Quotes, Misquotes, and Mis-attributed quotes
This post is inspired by a skit John Oliver did recently on his show, Last Week Tonight about famous quotes. I have been meaning to write this for months and I could not find enough famous quotes to fill the post. In my search for accuracy in writing my posts, I have found a number of famous quotes that I thought were accurate, but when I looked them up, there was no record of the person ever saying it. To make matters worse, the internet is rife with errors, that anyone can find a picture of a famous person and add words to it and make it seem real to any reader.
When it comes to famous quotes, there are many types of errors that appear all over the internet. Most of these quotes fall into three categories:
- False Quotes – Famous quotes that were not actually said by the person being quoted. This is where the original source is not known.
- Mis-Attributed Quotes – Famous quotes attributed to the wrong person. Frequently a more famous person gets the credit of a quote.
- Misquotes – Famous quotes that are not accurately transposed – Many times the errors are small or the quote is paraphrased.
The obvious problem is the internet is both a place for people to have fun as well as a place for people to do research. What is real simply fades into the background. It is much easier to just pull something you see from a website that seems reputable, than to actually research the quote and its accuracy. This is why many of these quotes go undisputed for years.
Some of the more common famous people with quote errors are Albert Einstein, Buddha, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill, and Mark Twain. I tried to limit the number of quotes attributed to each of these people but it was a bit of a challenge. Movies are also another common source of famous quote errors. I also tried to limit these since they tend to be misquoted frequently and it is less important to get these correct. It is much more important that the president of the United States to correctly quote a founding father or other famous president for his words correctly.