A Hero Is an Ordinary Individual Who Finds the Strength To Persevere and Endure in Spite of Overwhelming Obstacles

Christopher Reeve? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Actor Christopher Reeve achieved enormous fame when he played the title character in the 1978 movie “Superman”. He suffered a tragic accident during an equestrian competition in 1995 which injured his spine and paralyzed part of his body. His life experiences caused him to change his perception of heroism. Would you please help me to find a citation for his definition of a hero?

Quote Investigator: In 1998 Christopher Reeve published the autobiography “Still Me”, and he described the definition of a hero that he gave to interviewers during the publicity campaign for the “Superman” movie in 1978. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1998 Copyright, Still Me by Christopher Reeve, Chapter 11, Quote Page 273, Random House, New York. (Verified with scans)

The most frequently asked question was: “What is a hero?” I remember how easily I’d talk about it, the glib response I repeated so many times. My answer was that a hero is someone who commits a courageous action without considering the consequences.

Reeve’s notion of a hero was transformed as he gained greater insights to life:

Now my definition is completely different. I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

Below is one additional citation and a conclusion.

Continue reading A Hero Is an Ordinary Individual Who Finds the Strength To Persevere and Endure in Spite of Overwhelming Obstacles

References

References
1 1998 Copyright, Still Me by Christopher Reeve, Chapter 11, Quote Page 273, Random House, New York. (Verified with scans)

Censors Tend To Do What Only Psychotics Do; They Confuse Reality With Illusion

David Cronenberg? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent Canadian director David Cronenberg is best known for filming graphic horror movies. He vehemently disagrees with any restrictions on the material he depicts in his works. Apparently, he once compared a censor to a psychotic because he believed both confused illusion and reality. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1987 U.K. Channel 4 broadcast the documentary “Long Live the New Flesh: The Films of David Cronenberg” which included footage from an extended interview with the director.[1]Website: IMDb, Documentary title: Long Live the New Flesh – The Films of David Cronenberg, Director: Laurens C. Postma, Production company: Victor Solnicki Productions, Length: 50 minutes, … Continue reading Cronenberg delivered his harsh assessment of censors within a section of the documentary about the cuts made to his films. His forceful remark was attenuated by three clumsy phrases “I think that”, “in fact”, and “which is to say”:[2]YouTube Video, Title: David Cronenberg – Long Live The New Flesh – Part 5, Uploaded on April 25, 2009, Uploaded by: PaulKuK0, Part 5 of 7 parts, (Quotation starts at 7 minutes 3 seconds … Continue reading

I think that censors tend to do what in fact only psychotics do which is to say that they confuse reality with illusion.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Censors Tend To Do What Only Psychotics Do; They Confuse Reality With Illusion

References

References
1 Website: IMDb, Documentary title: Long Live the New Flesh – The Films of David Cronenberg, Director: Laurens C. Postma, Production company: Victor Solnicki Productions, Length: 50 minutes, Release date: February 9, 1987 U.K., Website description: Internet Movie Database – movie and television program information. (Accessed imdb.com on December 22, 2021) link
2 YouTube Video, Title: David Cronenberg – Long Live The New Flesh – Part 5, Uploaded on April 25, 2009, Uploaded by: PaulKuK0, Part 5 of 7 parts, (Quotation starts at 7 minutes 3 seconds of 9 minutes 34 seconds) Note: This video is from a fifty minute documentary about Canadian director David Cronenberg, (Accessed on youtube.com on December 22, 2021) link

The Best Time To Plant a Tree Was 30 Years Ago, and the Second Best Time To Plant a Tree Is Now

George W. White? Confucius? Chinese Saying? Jean Chretien? Earl Ubell? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The payoff for some actions only occurs after a lengthy delay. For example, a newly planted fruit tree requires years of growth before it can generate a bumper harvest. Also, a shade tree may require decades of maturation before it produces an extensive canopy. Yet, regrets about previous missed opportunities should not prevent immediate constructive action. Here are two versions of a popular saying:

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

The two best times to plant are tree are 30 years ago and today.

This is sometimes called a Chinese proverb, but I have not seen any solid supporting evidence. Would you please explore the provenance of this saying?

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match known to QI appeared in “The Cleveland Plain Dealer” of Ohio in 1967. Local city councilman George W. White used the expression, but he disclaimed credit. Thus, the source was anonymous. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1967 March 19, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Negro Help for Negroes Under Way”, Quote Page 9A, Column 1, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

“Someone remarked,” White said, “that the best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago, and the second best time to plant a tree is now. That’s how it is with us.”

Thanks to linguistics researcher Barry Popik who located the above citation.

QI has found no substantive evidence that this saying is a Chinese proverb.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Best Time To Plant a Tree Was 30 Years Ago, and the Second Best Time To Plant a Tree Is Now

References

References
1 1967 March 19, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, “Negro Help for Negroes Under Way”, Quote Page 9A, Column 1, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

During Christmas People Will Forget the Past With a Present

Gladys Parker? Don Marquis? Walter Winchell? Uncle Ezra? Phyllis Diller? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A collection of Christmas season quips employ wordplay based on “past” and “present”. Here are two examples:

What I like about Christmas is that you can make people forget the past with a present.

At Christmas time youngsters want the past forgotten and the present remembered.

Remarks of this type have been attributed to humorist Don Marquis, cartoonist Gladys Parker, and comedian Phyllis Diller. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: This family of jokes is difficult to trace because the phrasing is variable. In January 1933 a one-panel cartoon called “Flapper Fanny Says” by Gladys Parker depicted a woman opening a present. The caption said the following. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1933 January 19, Public Opinion, (Caption of one panel cartoon: Flapper Fanny Says by Gladys Parker), Quote Page 12, Column 3, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com)

Nothing smoothes out the past like a present.

This instance of the quip did not mention Christmas, but it contained the key wordplay elements.

In February 1933 the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” of New York printed an instance about birthdays with an anonymous attribution:[2] 1933 February 24, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Reverting to Type by Art Arthur, Quote Page 12, Column 2, Brooklyn, New York. (Newspapers_com)

… the latest bit of wisdom scribbled on the bulletin board at Connie’s Inn reads, “On her birthday every girl wants her past forgotten and her presents remembered”

In July 1934 Gladys Parker revisited this notion in her one-panel cartoon “Flapper Fanny Says”. Parker’s illustration depicted a woman tending the flowers on a trellis, and the caption said:[3] 1934 July 3, The Canton Repository, (Caption of one panel cartoon: Flapper Fanny Says by Gladys Parker), Quote Page 3, Column 4, Canton, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

Many a person will forget the past for a present.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading During Christmas People Will Forget the Past With a Present

References

References
1 1933 January 19, Public Opinion, (Caption of one panel cartoon: Flapper Fanny Says by Gladys Parker), Quote Page 12, Column 3, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com)
2 1933 February 24, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Reverting to Type by Art Arthur, Quote Page 12, Column 2, Brooklyn, New York. (Newspapers_com)
3 1934 July 3, The Canton Repository, (Caption of one panel cartoon: Flapper Fanny Says by Gladys Parker), Quote Page 3, Column 4, Canton, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)

Science Can Never Solve One Problem Without Raising Ten More Problems

George Bernard Shaw? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Scientific knowledge is incomplete and tentative. Superior scientific theories regularly supersede existing theories. The knowledge provided is flawed, but the process is self-correcting and self-improving.

Irish playwright and activist George Bernard Shaw bluntly stated that science was always wrong. He believed that every time science solved a problem it introduced ten more problems. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1930 George Bernard Shaw delivered a speech in London honoring physicist Albert Einstein. The address was broadcast in the U.S., and a transcript appeared in “The New York Times”. Shaw presented a contrast between the certainties provided by religion and science. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1930 October 29, New York Times, Shaw and Einstein Speeches, Quote Page 12, Column 3, New York. (ProQuest)

Religion is always right. Religion protects us against that great problem which we all must face. Science is always wrong; it is the very artifice of men. Science can never solve one problem without raising ten more problems.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Science Can Never Solve One Problem Without Raising Ten More Problems

References

References
1 1930 October 29, New York Times, Shaw and Einstein Speeches, Quote Page 12, Column 3, New York. (ProQuest)

You’re Never Too Old To Become Younger

Mae West? George Christy? Barbara Rowes? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A prominent movie star delivered a paradoxical line about aging:

You are never too old to become younger.

Would you please help to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1969 Hollywood columnist George Christy interviewed the famous actress Mae West in the pages of “The Los Angeles Times”. She spoke about her youthful philosophy. The ellipsis appeared in the original text. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1969 December 21, Los Angeles Times, Section: West Magazine, ‘Too Much of a Good Thing Can be Wonderful’ by George Christy, Start Page 25, Quote Page 28, Column 2, Los Angeles, California. … Continue reading

I’ve taken good care of myself all my life . . . you’re never too old to become younger. That’s my philosophy. You can do it by eating and living properly. And if you need a lift, why not?

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading You’re Never Too Old To Become Younger

References

References
1 1969 December 21, Los Angeles Times, Section: West Magazine, ‘Too Much of a Good Thing Can be Wonderful’ by George Christy, Start Page 25, Quote Page 28, Column 2, Los Angeles, California. (ProQuest)

It Isn’t Enough To Write So You Will Be Understood. You Have To Write So You Can’t Be Misunderstood

Quintilian? William Cobbett? John Cooke? Charles Haddon Spurgeon? W. E. Smith? Walter Winchell? Rollin D. Salisbury? William H. Taft?

Dear Quote Investigator: A maxim about the goal of communication expresses an ideal that is desirable but nearly impossible to achieve. Here are three versions:

(1) You must not only speak so that people can understand you, but so that they cannot misunderstand you.

(2) Teach not only so that the children can understand you, but so that they cannot misunderstand you.

(3) You must write not so that you can be understood but so that you cannot possibly be misunderstood.

Would you please explore the provenance of this family of sayings?

Quote Investigator: The Roman educator Quintilian (Marcus Fabius Quintilianus) published a multi-volume work about rhetoric titled “Institutio Oratoria” (“Institutes of Oratory”) around the year 95 CE. Quintilian discussed strategies of persuasion. Here is a passage from book 8 chapter 2 translated into English by scholar Harold Edgeworth Butler. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]1922, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian With an English Translation by H. E. Butler (Harold Edgeworth Butler, Professor of Latin in London University), Volume 3 of 4, Book 8, Chapter 2, Quote … Continue reading

For we must never forget that the attention of the judge is not always so keen that he will dispel obscurities without assistance, and bring the light of his intelligence to bear on the dark places of our speech. On the contrary, he will have many other thoughts to distract him unless what we say is so clear that our words will thrust themselves into his mind even when he is not giving us his attention, just as the sunlight forces itself upon the eyes.

Therefore our aim must be not to put him in a position to understand our argument, but to force him to understand it. Consequently we shall frequently repeat anything which we think the judge has failed to take in as he should.

Below is the key phrase in its original Latin form:[2]1922, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian With an English Translation by H. E. Butler (Harold Edgeworth Butler, Professor of Latin in London University), Volume 3 of 4, Book 8, Chapter 2, Quote … Continue reading

Quare non, ut intelligere possit, sed, ne omnino possit non intelligere, curandum.

QI believes that Quintilian’s statement was the seed which produced the efflorescence of sayings under examination. For example, in 1807 James Beattie who was a Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic at Marischal College in Scotland published “Elements of Moral Science”. Beattie cited Quintilian when he presented his own version of the saying:[3]1807, Elements of Moral Science by James Beattie (Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic in the Marischal College, and University of Aberdeen), Volume 2 of 2, Second Edition, Part 4, Chapter 1, … Continue reading

We should study, says Quintilian, not only to be understood in what we speak or write, but to make it impossible for the attentive to misunderstand us.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Isn’t Enough To Write So You Will Be Understood. You Have To Write So You Can’t Be Misunderstood

References

References
1 1922, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian With an English Translation by H. E. Butler (Harold Edgeworth Butler, Professor of Latin in London University), Volume 3 of 4, Book 8, Chapter 2, Quote Page 210 and 211, William Heinemann, London. (Google Books Full View) link
2 1922, The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian With an English Translation by H. E. Butler (Harold Edgeworth Butler, Professor of Latin in London University), Volume 3 of 4, Book 8, Chapter 2, Quote Page 210 and 211, William Heinemann, London. (Google Books Full View) link
3 1807, Elements of Moral Science by James Beattie (Professor of Moral Philosophy and Logic in the Marischal College, and University of Aberdeen), Volume 2 of 2, Second Edition, Part 4, Chapter 1, Section 2, Quote Page 283, Printed for William Creech; Edinburgh and T. Cadell and W. Davies, London. (Verified with scans)

Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

Carl Sagan? Marcello Truzzi? Pierre-Simon Laplace? David Hume? Benjamin Bayly? Elihu Palmer? William Craig Brownlee? F. B. Barton? William Denton? Ely Vaughan Zollars? Joseph Rinn? James Oberg? Arthur C. Clarke?

Dear Quote Investigator: Tabloid newspapers have printed remarkable claims about alien abductions, mischievous ghosts, bigfoot sightings, and other anomalies. Skeptics have countered these reports by stating that the evidence is inadequate. Here are two versions of a pertinent adage:

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.

This saying has been attributed to astronomer Carl Sagan, sociologist Marcello Truzzi, and mathematician Pierre-Simon Laplace. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: These sayings form a natural family although the vocabulary and phrasing varies. The following overview with dates shows the evolution:

1708: These matters being very extraordinary, will require a very extraordinary proof (Benjamin Bayly)

1738: As it is a matter of an extraordinary kind, it is but reasonable in us to require extraordinary evidence for it

1740: Every man has a right to demand extraordinary evidence for any extraordinary fact (Arthur Ashley Sykes)

1741: Assertions so contrary to fact … require some extraordinary proof to gain our credit and assent (John Straight)

1748: A wise man, therefore, proportions his belief to the evidence (David Hume)

1748: No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous, than the fact, which it endeavours to establish (David Hume)

1800: Miracles being very unusual and extraordinary facts, they require very strong evidence to support them (Beilby Porteus)

1804: I ought to have extraordinary evidence, to induce me to believe extraordinary things (Elihu Palmer)

1810: Plus un fait est extraordinaire, plus il a besoin d’être appuyé de fortes preuves (Pierre-Simon Laplace)

1810: The more extraordinary a fact, the more it needs to be supported by strong proofs (Translation of Pierre-Simon Laplace)

1824: Extraordinary claims can rest only on extraordinary proofs (William Craig Brownlee)

1826: For extraordinary facts, we should have extraordinary evidence

1852: Extraordinary claims should be backed by extraordinary proof

1854: An extraordinary, an unnatural event, demands extraordinary evidence (F. B. Barton)

1871: Extraordinary evidence is needed to establish extraordinary facts (William Denton)

1895: Extraordinary claims always call for extraordinary proof (Ely Vaughn Zollars)

1906: Wonderful phenomena need wonderful evidence in their support (Joseph F. Rinn)

1975: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof (Marcello Truzzi)

1976: Extraordinary proof is necessary for extraordinary claims (Kendrick Frazier credited Marcello Truzzi)

1977: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence (Carl Sagan)

1979: Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof. (James Oberg)

Below are selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence

There Is One Thing In This World That Money Can’t Buy, The Wag Of a Dog’s Tail

Josh Billings? Henry Wheeler Shaw? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: A dog wagging its tail energetically produces joy in my heart. The dog is usually expressing genuine enthusiasm. A well-known writer once said that money could not buy a wagging tail. Would you please help me to identify the writer and find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In the 1870s popular humorist Josh Billings (pseudonym of Henry Wheeler Shaw) published an annual series called “Farmer’s Allminax” which parodied the long-lived periodical “Farmers’ Almanac”. In 1879 Billings published a collection under the tile “Old Probability: Perhaps Rain—Perhaps Not”. He included an illustration (shown above) of an unhappy and uncooperative dog resisting the tug of a leash in front of a store called “J. Barkis & Co.” for dog fanciers. The script caption employed intentional misspellings. Here is a transcription followed by a version using standard spelling. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1879, Old Probability: Perhaps Rain—Perhaps Not by Josh Billings, Section Year: 1872, Quote Page 4, G. W. Carleton & Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

I thank the Lord that thare iz one thing in this world that money kant buy, and that iz,— the wag ov a dogs tail.
Yure Unkle, Josh Billings

I thank the Lord that there is one thing in this world that money can’t buy, and that is,— the wag of a dog’s tail.
Your Uncle, Josh Billings

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading There Is One Thing In This World That Money Can’t Buy, The Wag Of a Dog’s Tail

References

References
1 1879, Old Probability: Perhaps Rain—Perhaps Not by Josh Billings, Section Year: 1872, Quote Page 4, G. W. Carleton & Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

The 3D Web Will Rapidly Be the Dominant Thing and Everyone Will Have an Avatar

Philip Rosedale? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The technology needed to implement virtual reality (VR) has been under development for decades. The company Linden Lab launched a popular virtual world called “Second Life” (SL) in 2003. The avatar of each user could move though a wide variety of 3D digital environments and interact with digital objects and other avatars.

Yet, this virtual world differed from immersive VR because the imagery was displayed via conventional screens and not via VR goggles. The founder of “Second Life” was convinced that soon everyone would have an avatar, and virtual worlds would surpass the web to become dominant. Would you please help me to find a citation for his comments?

Quote Investigator: In 2007 “The Guardian” newspaper of London published “Today Second Life, Tomorrow the World” which contained an interview with Philip Rosedale, the founder of Linden Lab and “Second Life”. He believed that once people had learned how to use “Second Life” it would become a preferred realm for communication and collaboration. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1]2007 May 17, The Guardian, Today Second Life, tomorrow the world (Interview conducted by Kate Bulkley of Philip Rosedale, the founder of the virtual world Second Life), Quote Page 5, London, England. … Continue reading

The big problem is that it takes a long time to figure out how to do things in SL. Once you get over that, I think SL is a smoother road than the web itself, so taking that average of the four hours it takes now for people to understand SL down to 40 minutes will move us from 10% retention of users to more than 50% and then the 3D web will rapidly be the dominant thing and everyone will have an avatar.

Below is one additional citation and the conclusion.

Continue reading The 3D Web Will Rapidly Be the Dominant Thing and Everyone Will Have an Avatar

References

References
1 2007 May 17, The Guardian, Today Second Life, tomorrow the world (Interview conducted by Kate Bulkley of Philip Rosedale, the founder of the virtual world Second Life), Quote Page 5, London, England. (ProQuest)