Tag Archives: Albert Einstein

Creativity Is contagious. Pass It On

Albert Einstein? Bernice Bede Osol? Eugene Raudsepp? François de La Rochefoucauld? Dale Carnegie? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following words are often credited to the scientific genius Albert Einstein:

Creativity is contagious. Pass it on.

I cannot find a good citation. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein wrote or spoke the statement above. The comprehensive reference “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press contains a section on “Creativity” but the quotation is not listed there or anywhere else in the book. 1

In 1956 a partial match appeared in “The Cincinnati Enquirer” of Cincinnati, Ohio. An article about a local elementary school described a teacher who helped students and fellow teachers to create ceramics for an exhibition. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

Creativity was contagious. Teachers also became interested. They were found taking a few minutes from their lunch time for work on their ceramics, too, and again at home at night.

In 1973 a syndicated horoscope column by Bernice Bede Osol included a partial match: 3

GEMINI (May 21-June 20) Your creativity’s contagious. Seek support for your ideas today. Others will appreciate their potential.

In 1977 “Creative Growth Games” by Eugene Raudsepp with George P. Hough Jr. contained a full match for the expression. The following appeared as an epigraph to a section titled “Games and Exercises”: 4

Through the process of association of ideas your imagination will find new and relevant relationships between things.
Creativity is contagious, pass it on.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Misattributed to Einstein, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (The quotation was absent)(Verified on paper)
  2. 1956 May 6, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Imagery In Ceramics, Section 3, Quote Page 1, Column 4, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Newspapers_com)
  3. 1973 January 18, Dixon Evening Telegraph, Astrograph by Bernice Bede Osol, Quote Page 19, Column 3, Dixon, Illinois. (Newspapers_com)
  4. 1977, Creative Growth Games by Eugene Raudsepp with George P. Hough Jr., (Epigraph of part 1), Quote Page 15, Jove Publications: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, New York. (Verified on paper)

Insanity Is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results

Albert Einstein? Narcotics Anonymous? Max Nordau? George Bernard Shaw? George A. Kelly? Rita Mae Brown? John Larroquette? Jessie Potter? Werner Erhard?

Dear Quote Investigator: It’s foolish to repeat ineffective actions. One popular formulation presents this point harshly:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

These words are usually credited to the acclaimed genius Albert Einstein. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein wrote or spoke the statement above. It is listed within a section called “Misattributed to Einstein” in the comprehensive reference “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1

The earliest strong match known to QI appeared in a pamphlet printed by the Narcotics Anonymous organization in 1981. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

The price may seem higher for the addict who prostitutes for a fix than it is for the addict who merely lies to a doctor, but ultimately both pay with their lives. Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.

QI acquired a PDF of the document with the quotation above on the website amonymifoundation.org back in February 2011. The document stated that is was printed in November 1981, and it had a 1981 copyright notice. The website was subsequently reorganized, but the document remains available via the Internet Archive Wayback Machine database.

Instances of the saying have been employed by other twelve-step organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Misattributed to Einstein, Quote Page 474, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1981, Narcotics Anonymous Pamphlet, (Basic Text Approval Form, Unpublished Literary Work), Chapter Four: How It Works, Step Two, Page 11, Printed November 1981, Copyright 1981, W.S.C.-Literature Sub-Committee of Narcotics Anonymous], World Service Conference of Narcotics Anonymous. (Accessed at amonymifoundation.org on October 3, 2011; website has been restructured; text is available via Internet Archive Wayback Machine Snapshot January 1, 2013 link PDF of pamphlet link

Creativity Is Intelligence Having Fun

Albert Einstein? George Scialabba? Joey Reiman? John C. Maxwell? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: An invigorating comment about creativity is often credited to the universally recognized scientific genius Albert Einstein:

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Are these really the words of Einstein?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein who died in 1955 made this remark. The most comprehensive reference about the physicist’s pronouncements is the 2010 book “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press, and the expression is absent. 1

QI hypothesizes that the saying evolved from the concluding sentence of a March 1984 article titled “Mindplay” in “Harvard Magazine”, an alumni publication. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Perhaps imagination is only intelligence having fun.

The article author was George Scialabba who graduated from the prestigious university with the class of 1969. Later he joined the staff and began writing essays and book reviews for a wide variety of periodicals.

After publication the expression was disseminated and streamlined; in addition, the word “imagination” was replaced by “creativity” as shown in the chronologically ordered selected citations below. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Probably Not By Einstein, (No page number because statement is absent), Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1984 March-April, Harvard Magazine, Volume 86, Number 4, The Browser: Mindplay by George Scialabba, (Book Review of Howard Gardner’s “Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences”), Start Page 16, Quote Page 19, Published by Harvard Magazine Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Verified with scans; thanks to the library system of University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign)

Men Marry Women with the Hope They Will Never Change. Women Marry Men with the Hope They Will Change

Albert Einstein? H. M. Harwood? R. Gore-Browne? John Conwell? Estelle Getty? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Did Albert Einstein’s genius extend from physics to psychology? The following remark has been ascribed to him:

Men marry women with the hope they will never change. Women marry men with the hope they will change. Invariably they are both disappointed.

I have not found any persuasive citations. Would you please examine the provenance of this statement?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein who died in 1955 made this statement. Indeed, it is listed in a section called “Probably Not By Einstein” within the comprehensive reference “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1

The earliest ascription to Einstein located by QI appeared in 1982 in “Forbes” magazine which reported that the line was spoken by the popular comedian Mort Sahl during a performance. Perhaps Sahl concocted the linkage to the famous scientist to heighten the humor. See the detailed citation listed further below.

The earliest solid match to the statement known to QI occurred in the play “Cynara” by H. M. Harwood and R. Gore-Browne which was performed in London in 1930. The drama moved to Broadway in 1931, and it was included in a compilation of “The Best Plays of 1931-32”. The character John Tring offered the following insight about marriage. The phrasing differed from the quotation under examination, but the underlying idea was the same. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

TRING—Exactly! That’s the trouble about marriage. Women always hope it’s going to change the husband. Men always hope it won’t change their wives—and both are disappointed! (He gets up.) Never if you can help it be a woman’s first lover—unless, of course, you’ve got the explorer’s temperament.

The play was adapted from the novel “An Imperfect Lover” by R. Gore-Browne, but QI’s search did not detect the quotation within the book.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Probably Not By Einstein, Page 482, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1932, The Best Plays of 1931-32 and the Year Book of the Drama in America, Edited by Burns Mantle, Section: Cynara: A Drama in Prologue, Three Acts and an Epilogue by H. M. Harwood (Harold Marsh Harwood) and R. Gore-Browne, (Adapted from novel “An Imperfect Lover” by R. Gore-Browne), Start Page 335, Quote Page 358, Dodd, Mead and Company, New York. (Reprint Edition in 1975: Arno Press: A New York Times Company, New York) (Verified with hard copy)

Education Is Not the Learning of Facts, But the Training of the Mind To Think

Albert Einstein? Apocryphal?

things08Dear Quote Investigator: A learner may accumulate a large number of miscellaneous pieces of information without achieving an integrated understanding and without acquiring an ability to use the material intelligently. Reportedly, Albert Einstein made a germane remark:

Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of minds to think.

I have not been able to find a solid citation for this insight. Are these really the words of Albert Einstein? What was the context?

Quote Investigator: In 1921 Albert Einstein visited Boston, Massachusetts. At that time, a questionnaire constructed by the inventor and research laboratory pioneer Thomas A. Edison was circulating. Edison used his controversial questionnaire to screen job applicants, but Einstein was unimpressed by some of the queries. For example, “The New York Times” reported on Einstein’s reaction to one question about a fact that was readily available in reference books: 1

He was asked through his secretary, “What is the speed of sound?” He could not say off-hand, he replied. He did not carry such information in his mind but it was readily available in text books.

Einstein’s response printed in 1921 fit the theme of the quotation because he deemphasized the value of simply memorizing facts. A longer description of this episode was presented in the biography “Einstein: His Life and Times” by Philipp Frank. A strong match for the quotation was included in the following passage. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 2

While Einstein was in Boston, staying at the Hotel Copley Plaza, he was given a copy of Edison’s questionnaire to see whether he could answer the questions. As soon as he read the question: “What is the speed of sound?” he said: “I don’t know. I don’t burden my memory with such facts that I can easily find in any textbook.”

Nor did he agree with Edison’s opinion on the uselessness of college education. He remarked: “It is not so very important for a person to learn facts. For that he does not really need a college. He can learn them from books. The value of an education in a liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think something that cannot be learned from textbooks.”

Frank’s biography was originally written in German, and the English translation was released in 1947. QI does not know what source material was used by Frank to report on words of Einstein in 1921, but the reliability of Frank’s biography is largely viewed favorably.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1921 May 18, New York Times, Einstein Sees Boston; Fails on Edison Test: Asked to Tell Speed of Sound He Refers Questioner to Text Books (Special to The New York Times), Quote Page 15, New York. (ProQuest)
  2. 1947, Einstein: His Life and Times by Philipp Frank, Translated from German by George Rosen, Edited and Revised by Shuichi Kusaka, Quote Page 185, Published by Alfred A. Knopf, New York. (Verified with scans)

Let Us Be More Ashamed of Shabby Ideas and Shoddy Philosophies

Albert Einstein? Apocryphal?

clothes08Dear Quote Investigator: Recently, the dress sense of a leading British politician was criticized, and his sharp rejoinder was based on a quotation attributed to Albert Einstein contrasting the relative importance of shabby clothes versus shabby ideas. Would you please examine the provenance of this statement?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence of the quotation located by QI appeared in a 1949 compilation titled “Treasury of the Christian Faith: An Encyclopedic Handbook of the Range and Witness of Christianity” which included the following entry: 1

If most of us are ashamed of shabby clothes and shoddy furniture, let us be more ashamed of shabby ideas and shoddy philosophies. — Albert Einstein

Einstein died in 1955; hence, the statement was credited to him while he was still alive. However, the 1949 book did not present a supporting citation, and QI has not yet located any pointers to speeches, interviews, or essays by Einstein containing the saying.

The most comprehensive reference about Einstein’s pronouncements is the 2010 book “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press, and the expression about “shabby ideas” was not present in this volume. 2

This entry presents a snapshot of QI’s research, and more information may be uncovered by other researchers. Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 1949, Treasury of the Christian Faith: An Encyclopedic Handbook of the Range and Witness of Christianity, Edited by Stanley I. Stuber and Thomas Curtis Clark, Quote Page 415, Column 1, Published by Association Press, New York. (Verified with scans; many thanks to Reformed Theological Seminary Library of Jackson, Mississippi)
  2. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper) (A search for the quotation was performed within a digital version of the text)

Life Is Like Riding a Bicycle. To Keep Your Balance You Must Keep Moving

Albert Einstein? Walter Isaacson? J. Benson Hamilton? Charles Haddon Spurgeon? Dorothy Tucker? William Whiting?

bicycle07Dear Quote Investigator: The famous physicist Albert Einstein reportedly used a wonderful simile that compared riding a bicycle with living successfully. Here are three versions:

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.

People are like bicycles. They can keep their balance only as long as they keep moving.

It is the same with people as it is with riding a bike. Only when moving can one comfortably maintain one’s balance.

Would you please explore this topic? Which version is the most accurate?

Quote Investigator: On February 5, 1930 Albert Einstein wrote a letter to his son Eduard that included a remark that has been translated in different ways. In 2007 Walter Isaacson published a biography titled “Einstein: His Life and Universe”; the notes section at the end of the book printed an excerpt from the original text of the letter in German together with a translation by the Information Officer of the Einstein Archives. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

The exact quote is: “Beim Menschen ist es wie beim Velo. Nur wenn er faehrt, kann er bequem die Balance halten.” A more literal translation is: “It is the same with people as it is with riding a bike. Only when moving can one comfortably maintain one’s balance.” Courtesy of Barbara Wolff, Einstein archives, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

Further below supplementary citations are presented for alternative versions of the saying ascribed to the acclaimed scientist.

Interestingly, the simile has a long history that reaches back into the 1800s in the English language. The early citations found by QI referred to the religious lives of individuals. Later citations referred to business and secular pursuits.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 2007, Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, Section: Notes, Epigraph: 1, Quote Page 565, Location 10155, Simon & Schuster, New York. (Kindle Edition)

Chance, Coincidence, Miracles, Pseudonyms, and God

Albert Einstein? Théophile Gautier? Alexis de Valon? Samuel Taylor Coleridge? Helena Blavatsky? Dr. Paul F.? Heidi Quade? Bonnie Farmer? Charlotte C. Taylor? Doris Lessing? Nicolas Chamfort? Horace Walpole?

chance10Dear Quote Investigator: The following statement is attributed to the brilliant physicist Albert Einstein:

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

I have been unable to find any solid information to support this ascription. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Einstein ever made a remark of this type. It is not listed in the comprehensive collection “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1

This topic is large, complex, and tangled. QI believes that the remark evolved from a family of interrelated sayings that can be traced back many years. These sayings did not have the same meaning, but QI believes that the earlier statements influenced the emergence of the later statements.

Below is a summary list with dates of the pertinent quotations. The shared theme was an examination of the connections between chance, coincidence, Providence, and God. The term “Providence” refers to the guardianship and care provided by God, a deity, or nature viewed as a spiritual force. Statements in French are accompanied with a translation.

1777: What is called chance is the instrument of Providence. (Horace Walpole)

1795: Quelqu’un disait que la Providence était le nom de baptême du Hasard, quelque dévot dira que le Hasard est un sobriquet de la Providence. (Nicolas Chamfort) [Someone said that Providence was the baptismal name of Chance; some pious person will say that Chance is a nickname of Providence.]

1845: Le hasard, c’est peut-être le pseudonyme de Dieu, quand il ne veut pas signer. (Théophile Gautier) [Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God when he does not want to sign.]

1897: Il faut, dans la vie, faire la part du hasard. Le hasard, en définitive, c’est Dieu. (Anatole France) [In life we must make all due allowance for chance. Chance, in the last resort, is God.]

1949: Chance is the pseudonym of God when He did not want to sign. (misattribution: Anatole France)

1976: He defined coincidence as a miracle in which God chose to remain anonymous. (Dr. Paul F. of Indianapolis, Indiana)

1979: A coincidence is a small miracle where God chose to remain anonymous. (Anonymous in “Shop with Sue”)

1984: A coincidence is a small miracle when God chooses to remain anonymous. (attribution: Heidi Quade)

1985: Coincidence is when God works a miracle and chooses to remain anonymous. (attribution: Bonnie Farmer)

1986: Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. (Charlotte Clemensen Taylor)

1997: Coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous. (attribution: Doris Lessing)

2000: Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. (misattribution: Albert Einstein)

Details for these statements together with additional selected citations in chronological order are given below.

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Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Examined on paper)

Only One Who Attempts the Absurd Is Capable of Achieving the Impossible

Albert Einstein? M. C. Escher? Robin Morgan? Miguel de Unamuno? Miguel de Cervantes? Anonymous?

unamuno07Dear Quote Investigator: To fully succeed in life one must ultimately follow an audacious path that may seem nonsensical or reckless to ones colleagues. My favorite saying supports this idea. Here are three versions:

1) Only those who attempt the absurd will achieve the impossible.
2) Only she who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible
3) Only he who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.

This adage has been attributed to the famous scientist Albert Einstein, the brilliant graphic artist M.C. Escher, and the prominent feminist Robin Morgan. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive support for the linkage to Einstein or Escher. Robin Morgan did employ an instance of the saying with the word “she” in 1984; however, Morgan disclaimed credit and remarked that the origin of the phrase was uncertain.

The earliest evidence located by QI appeared in a 1905 book by Miguel de Unamuno who was a notable Spanish writer and philosopher. Unamuno’s work discussed the well-known characters Don Quixote and Sancho Panza who were constructed by the distinguished novelist Miguel de Cervantes. One theme of Cervantes’ opus was the intertwining of actions which were both absurd and noble. The explication and commentary by Unamuno embodied a personal and philosophical response to Cervantes. The following excerpt in Spanish is followed by a translation into English. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

¿Que es ello absurdo? decís. ¿Y quién sabe qué es lo absurdo? ¡Y aunque lo fuera! Sólo el que ensaya lo absurdo es capaz de conquistar lo imposible.

But it was absurd, you say? And who knows what is absurd and what is not? And even if it were! Only one who attempts the absurd is capable of achieving the impossible.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. Year: 1905, Title: Vida de D. Quijote y Sancho: Según Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra: Explicada y Comentada por Miguel de Unamuno, Author: Miguel de Unamuno, Quote Page 175 and 176, Publisher: Libreria de Fernando Fe, Madrid, Spain. (Google Books Full View) link

The Person Who Never Makes a Mistake Will Never Make Anything

Theodore Roosevelt? Albert Einstein? Benjamin Franklin? Samuel Smiles? Josh Billings? Mr. Phelps? G. K. Chesterton? Robert Smith Surtees? Joseph Conrad? Will Rogers? Anonymous?

samsmiles11Dear Quote Investigator: Mistakes are unavoidable in the life of an active and vital person. Several adages highlight this important theme:

1) A man who never makes a mistake will never make anything.
2) The person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
3) A fellow who never makes a mistake must get tired of doing nothing.

Many famous names have been linked to sayings of this type including Benjamin Franklin, Theodore Roosevelt, and Albert Einstein. Would you please examine this topic?

Quote Investigator: This is a large and complex topic. Below is a summary that presents a list of expressions that fit into this family together with dates and attributions:

1832: He who never makes an effort, never risks a failure. (Anonymous)

1859: He who never made a mistake, never made a discovery. (Samuel Smiles)

1874: The man who never makes enny blunders seldum makes enny good hits. (Josh Billings)

1889: A man who never makes a mistake will never make anything. (Attributed: Mr. Phelps)

1896: It’s only those who do nothing that make no mistakes. (Joseph Conrad)

1900: The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything. (Solid Attribution: Theodore Roosevelt)

1901: Show me a man who has never made a mistake, and I will show you one who has never tried anything. (Anonymous)

1903: The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all—doing nothing. (Poor Richard Junior’s Philosophy)

1911: The fellow who never makes any failures, never makes any successes either. (Anonymous)

1927: Every man makes mistakes; they say a man who never makes mistakes never makes anything else. (G. K. Chesterton)

1936: The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake of all—doing nothing. (Flawed Attribution: Benjamin Franklin)

1969: The man who never makes a mistake must get plenty tired of doing nothing. (Anonymous)

1993: The man who never makes a mistake must get tired of doing nothing. (Weak Attribution: Will Rogers)

1995: A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new. (Weak Attribution: Albert Einstein.)

Here are selected citations in chronological order.

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