People Are Entitled To Their Own Opinions But Not To Their Own Facts

Bernard Baruch? Daniel Patrick Moynihan? Rayburn H. Carrell? James R. Schlesinger? Alan Greenspan?

Dear Quote Investigator: A family of popular sayings highlights the difference between opinions and facts. Here are three thematically related expressions:

(1) Everybody has a right to their opinion, but nobody has a right to be wrong in their facts.

(2) You are entitled to your own views, but you are not entitled to your own facts.

(3) People are entitled to their own opinions, but not to their own facts.

These sayings do not have identical meanings, but it is helpful to group them together while exploring their provenance. Financier Bernard Baruch and politician Daniel Patrick Moynihan have been given credit for these thoughts. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI occurred in an Associated Press article from 1946. Bernard Baruch was quoted when he complained about an opponent’s assertions which he believed were inaccurate. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Every man has the right to an opinion but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts. Nor, above all, to persist in errors as to facts.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading People Are Entitled To Their Own Opinions But Not To Their Own Facts


  1. 1946 October 9, The Galveston Daily News, (AP article dateline Oct. 8), Baruch Upholds U.S. Atom Plan; Hits at Wallace, Quote Page 1, Column 3, Galveston, Texas (NewspaperArchive)

Old Age Is Always Fifteen Years Older Than I Am

Francis Bacon? Bernard Baruch? Mary Gordon? Nina Wilcox? Walter A. Clark? John W. Carswell? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: One witty and vibrant individual who maintained a youthful outlook throughout a long life uttered a statement in the following family:

  • Old age is always 15 years older than I am.
  • Old age is always ten years ahead of us.
  • Middle age is always fifteen years ahead of us.

This saying has been attributed to pioneering philosopher of science Francis Bacon and U.S. financier and political consultant Bernard Baruch. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Francis Bacon employed this saying. There is good evidence that Bernard Baruch used the expression by 1948. However, the quip was circulating decades earlier in 1909.

Bacon may have received credit because his name is close to Baruch’s name within an alphabetical ordering. See the discussion of the 1997 citation further below for an explanation of this potential error mechanism.

In 1909 Walter A. Clark published “A Lost Arcadia: Or, The Story of My Old Community”. A chapter about John W. Carswell credited him with the saying. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Over the gulf of nearly fifty vanished years I can recall today some of his terse, sententious sayings. Talking to my father one day on the matter of their accumulating years he said “old age is always ten years ahead of us.”

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Old Age Is Always Fifteen Years Older Than I Am


  1. 1909, A Lost Arcadia: Or, The Story of My Old Community by Walter A. Clark, Chapter: Judge John W. Carswell, Start Page 149, Quote Page 149, Chronicde (Chronicle) Job Print, Augusta, Georgia. (Google Books Full View) link

Be Quick To Praise. People Like To Praise Those Who Praise Them

Creator: Bernard Baruch, U.S. financier, philanthropist, and presidential adviser

Context: In 1948 Bernard M. Baruch spoke at a youth forum sponsored by “The New York Daily Mirror” newspaper and offered several rules for success to his listeners including the following. Boldface added to excerpt: 1

Be quick to praise. People like to praise those who praise them. Be sincere in doing this.

Keep yourself tidy. . . .

Be helpful, that is the first definition of success.

Be cheerful. There are enough crepe-hangers around, without adding to the list.

This quotation is listed in William Safire’s compilation titled “Words of Wisdom: More Good Advice”. 2


  1. 1948 December 12, The Miami News, Rules For Success Listed By Baruch At Youth Forum (Associated Press), Quote Page 12A, Column 4, Miami, Florida. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1989, Words of Wisdom: More Good Advice, Compiled and edited by William Safire and Leonard Safir, Section: Praise, Quote Page 294, Simon and Schuster, New York. (Verified on paper)

Then I Was Known as a Speculator

Ernest Cassel? Bernard Baruch? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is an entertaining quotation about the changing labels that were applied to a famous financier. He was successively called a gambler, a speculator, and a banker, although he did not significantly change his methods. Do you know who crafted this humorous description of transformation?

Quote Investigator: The earliest evidence located by QI was published in a 1944 book titled “Bernard Baruch: Park Bench Statesman” which was a biographical work about the prominent investor, businessman, and presidential advisor. Baruch attributed the quotation to Ernest Cassel who was a merchant banker and confidant of King Edward VII: 1

…Baruch would quote Sir Ernest Cassel as saying, “When as a young and unknown man I started to be successful I was referred to as a gambler. My operations increased in scope. Then I was a speculator. The sphere of my activities continued to expand and presently I was known as a banker. Actually I had been doing the same thing all the time.”

That comes pretty close to being Baruch’s favorite quotation.

Ernest Cassel died in 1921; hence, the attribution in 1944 occurred rather late. Baruch popularized the quotation, and he included an instance in his 1957 autobiography as shown further below. Yet, QI is uncertain where Baruch obtained the comical remark. Perhaps future researchers will locate an earlier citation.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Then I Was Known as a Speculator


  1. 1944, Bernard Baruch: Park Bench Statesman by Carter Field, Quote Page 76 and 77, Published by Whittlesey House: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link link

Those Who Mind Don’t Matter, and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind

Theodor Seuss Geisel? Mark Young? Bernard Baruch? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I am trying to validate a quotation that is credited to Theodor Geisel who is better known as Dr. Seuss, the popular author of children’s books. I have been unable to determine where the quote appeared. The task is complicated because there are so many different versions. Here are four examples:

  1. Do what you want to do, say what you want to say, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who do mind don’t matter.
  2. Say what you want and be who you are, because those who matter don’t mind, and those who matter don’t mind.
  3. Always do what you want, and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.
  4. Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Some skeptical commentators say that Seuss never wrote it. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: There is no substantive evidence that Theodor Seuss Geisel wrote or said this expression. Researchers have been unable to locate the statement in any of his books.

An entertaining precursor appeared in the humor magazine “Punch” in 1855: 1

What is Matter?—Never mind.
What is Mind?—No matter.

The second part of the statement under examination was in circulation by the 1930s. The earliest instance located by QI was printed in 1938 in a journal based in London and written for municipal and county engineers. The phrase was used comically to discount the criticisms directed at housing designs. The words were enclosed in quotation marks suggesting that the quip was already known in 1938: 2

Mr. Davies himself admitted that it was highly controversial and open to criticism; but criticism concerned both mind and matter. “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind!”

The repetition of clauses together with the reversal of key words embodied a rhetorical technique called antimetabole. In this case, the positions of the words “mind” and “matter” were exchanged.

Starting in the 1940s the expression was used in two popular anecdotes about seating arrangements at parties. The first tale was published in the Canadian periodical “Empire Digest” in February 1946 and featured Sir Mark Young who was at that time the Governor of Hong Kong. In the following excerpt the term “A.D.C.” was used for “aide-de-camp”, a personal assistant: 3

He is the hero of many stories illustrating a rapier-like wit. One of the best is that of the lady, lunching at Government House, who was aggrieved to find herself on Sir Mark’s left instead of his right. She approached her grievance obliquely—but made it fairly obvious. Finally she remarked: “I suppose it is really very difficult for your A.D.C. always to put your guests in their right places?”
“Not at all,” said Sir Mark blandly, “for those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.”

In March 1946 this story was reprinted in the “Lethbridge Herald” newspaper of Alberta, Canada with an acknowledgement to Empire Digest. 4

In May 1946 the anecdote was retold in the “Omaha World Herald” newspaper of Omaha, Nebraska. The setting and participants were the same. Yet, the dialog was somewhat different. The thrust of the punchline was preserved: 5

One day, at a luncheon in the Government House, a lady prominent in society was vexed to discover that she had been seated at the end of the table, instead of next to the host.
This was, of course, a great blow to her prestige. At the end of the meal, she approached Sir Mark and said rather tartly:
“Apparently you don’t care where you seat your guests.”
Piqued by her hauteur, he replied:
“Madam, those who really matter, don’t mind where they are seated. And those who mind,” he added, “don’t usually matter.”

In August 1946 an alternate version of the anecdote was printed, and the punchline of the joke was credited to a different prominent person named Bernard Baruch. Baruch was an influential American financier who acted as an advisor to U.S. Presidents. A gossip columnist named Igor Cassini was acknowledged for telling the story and for participating in the dialog: 6

B. Baruch, who entertains so many notables, was recently asked by Igor Cassini how he managed the seating arrangements at his soirees. “I suppose it’s really very difficult to put the guests in their correct places.” commented Mr. C. “Not at all,” stated the elder statesman. “Those who matter, don’t mind. Those who mind—don’t matter!”

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Those Who Mind Don’t Matter, and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind


  1. 1855 July 14, Punch, Or the London Charivari, (Filler item), Quote Page 19, Column 2, London, England. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1938 February 1, The Journal of the Institution of Municipal & County Engineers, Volume 64, Number 16, Discussion, [Quotation is contained in the remarks of “Mr. Percy Morris (Wakefield)”], Quote Page 1277, Published at the Offices of the Institution of Municipal & County Engineers, London. (Verified with scans; Thanks to Dennis Lien and the University of Minnesota library system)
  3. 1946 February, Empire Digest, Volume 3, Number 5, Rapier Retort, [Freestanding short anecdote], Quote Page 17, Published by Empire Information, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Verified with scans; Thanks to John McChesney-Young and the University of California, Berkeley library system)
  4. 1946 March 23, Lethbridge Herald, Rapier Retort, Page 16 [Back Page], Column 3, [Acknowledgement to Empire Digest], Lethbridge, Alberta. (NewspaperArchive)
  5. 1946 May 6, Omaha World Herald, Anecdotes of the Famous: Propriety, Page 12, Column 1, Omaha, Nebraska. (GenealogyBank)
  6. 1946 August 9, Long Island Star-Journal, Going To Town by Hal Eaton, Page 21, Long Island City, New York. (Old Fulton)