An Intellectual Is Someone Who Has Found Something More Interesting Than Sex

Aldous Huxley? Katharine Whitehorn? Edgar Wallace? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A widely reported psychological study asserted that people experienced erotic thoughts many times a day on average. Intellectuals, according to a comical definition, are able to free their minds sufficiently from carnal pursuits to consider other subjects of superior interest. The well-known author of “Brave New World”, Aldous Huxley, made a quip of this type. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest close match located by QI appeared in “The Observer” newspaper of London in 1968. The influential columnist Katharine Whitehorn attributed the remark to Aldous Huxley. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

You can attack synthetic sex or premature sex or mass-media sex; but if anyone made a remark like Huxley’s ‘An intellectual is someone who has found something more interesting than sex’ it would nowadays be taken automatically as a defence.

This ascription occurred after Huxley’s death in 1963, and no evidence has yet emerged that Huxley actually made this remark. QI conjectures that this quip evolved from a comment made by thriller writer Edgar Wallace during an interview with “The New York Times” in January 1932: 2

“The highbrows tell me that my writing is not literature, and I retort that literature is too often unintelligible. What is a highbrow? He is a man who has found something more interesting than women. When I get that way I’ll stop writing and take to art.

The phrase “found something more interesting than” was shared between the two remarks. In addition, similar comments have been made using the terms “highbrow”, “egghead”, and “intellectual”. The joke evolved from a stance of gynephilia in 1932 toward a general stance in 1968. Whitehorn may have misremembered Wallace’s quotation. Alternatively, she heard and repeated a transformed remark already in circulation.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading An Intellectual Is Someone Who Has Found Something More Interesting Than Sex

Notes:

  1. 1968 March 3, The Observer, Yer silly old moos by Katharine Whitehorn, Quote Page 27, Column 7, London, Greater London, England. (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1932 January 24, The New York Times, Edgar Wallace Enjoys Hollywood, Quote Page X6, Column 4, New York. (ProQuest)

What Is a Highbrow? He Is a Man Who Has Found Something More Interesting Than Women

Edgar Wallace? Aldous Huxley? Paul Larmer? Russell Lynes? Katharine Whitehorn? Wayne C. Booth? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Human thoughts are often focused on relationships and intimacy. Yet, other cerebral pursuits may predominate when the mind shifts focus. Here are three closely related versions of a humorous definition:

  • A highbrow is a person who has found something more interesting than women.
  • Egghead: a guy who’s found something more interesting than women.
  • An intellectual is someone who has found something more interesting than sex.

The first two versions are presented from a stance of gynephilia. The third is more general. This quip has been attributed to the popular and prolific English thriller writer Edgar Wallace. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The first match known to QI appeared in “The New York Times” in January 1932. A journalist interviewed Edgar Wallace and asked him about his prodigious output of stories. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Mr. Wallace insists there is no mystery about his quick writing. “I’m a newspaper man, and in the hard training of a newspaper office I have learned to marshal my thoughts and give them terse expression.

“The highbrows tell me that my writing is not literature, and I retort that literature is too often unintelligible. What is a highbrow? He is a man who has found something more interesting than women. When I get that way I’ll stop writing and take to art.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading What Is a Highbrow? He Is a Man Who Has Found Something More Interesting Than Women

Notes:

  1. 1932 January 24, The New York Times, Edgar Wallace Enjoys Hollywood, Quote Page X6, Column 4, New York. (ProQuest)

Secrecy: The Art of Telling a Thing To Only One Person At a Time

University of Oxford? Theresa Russell? Edna Worthley Underwood? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: I have been told with the highest level of confidentiality that the following comical definition has been employed at the University of Oxford:

Secret: You may tell it to only one person at a time.

Would you please explore the provenance of this quip?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in multiple U.S. newspapers in 1905. The joke was grouped together with several other humorous definitions, and no attribution was given. Here is a sampling of four items. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Eternity: Two hours of waiting in a dentist’s office.
Heathen: Anyone who does not profess the religion you don’t profess.
Secrecy: The art of telling a thing to only one person at a time.
Error: The mistaken act of another.

The text above was printed in “The Times-Democrat” of New Orleans, Louisiana. The same definitions appeared in “The Lexington Herald” of Lexington, Kentucky, 2 “The Sunday Gazette and Telegraph” of Colorado Springs, Colorado, 3 and other newspapers.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Secrecy: The Art of Telling a Thing To Only One Person At a Time

Notes:

  1. 1905 June 13, The Times-Democrat, Silhouettes: Definitions, Quote Page 6, Column 4, New Orleans, Louisiana, (Newspapers_com)
  2. 1905 July 09, The Lexington Herald, Definitions (Acknowledgment: New Orleans Times Democrat), Quote Page 8, Column 4, Lexington, Kentucky.(GenealogyBank)
  3. 1905 July 23, The Sunday Gazette and Telegraph (Gazette-Telegraph), Definitions (Acknowledgment: New Orleans Times Democrat), page 21, Column 5, Colorado Springs, Colorado. (GenealogyBank)

If Builders Built Buildings the Way Programmers Wrote Programs, Then the First Woodpecker That Came Along Would Destroy Civilization

Gerald Weinberg? Conrad Schneiker? Arthur Bloch? Clifford Stoll? Dennis Hall? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Computer programs are not resilient. Small errors can cause a program to malfunction. In the 1960s a spacecraft bound for Venus quickly veered off course because a single character in the guidance program was accidentally omitted. This dangerous situation necessitated a self-destruct command and a multi-million dollar mission failure.

A vaguely remembered statement of exasperation reflects situations like this: A single woodpecker could destroy a vast wooden building if architects used the same design principles as computer programmers. Would you please explore the provenance of this saying?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The CoEvolution Quarterly” in 1975. Conrad Schneiker compiled and published “An Abridged Collection of Interdisciplinary Laws” which included the following three items. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Weiler’s Law
Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn’t have to do it himself.

Weinberg’s Law
If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.

Westheimer’s Rule
To estimate the time it takes to do a task: estimate the time you think it should take, multiply by 2, and change the unit of measure to the next highest unit. Thus we allocate 2 days for a one hour task.

The 1978 citation presented further below identified the creator as Gerald Weinberg, an early computer scientist who had worked at the University of Nebraska.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading If Builders Built Buildings the Way Programmers Wrote Programs, Then the First Woodpecker That Came Along Would Destroy Civilization

Notes:

  1. 1975 Winter, The CoEvolution Quarterly, Issue 8, An Abridged Collection of Interdisciplinary Laws by Conrad Schneiker, Start Page 138, Quote Page 139, Published by Point, Sausalito, California. (Verified with scans)

Absence of Evidence Is Not Evidence of Absence

Carl Sagan? Martin Rees? William Wright? William Housman? W. J. Sollas? Dugald Bell? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The existence or non-existence of intelligent extraterrestrial life is a highly contentious subject. Some thinkers who are open to the possibility of interstellar aliens also believe that the current evidence is inadequate; hence, they advocate using radio telescope dishes as listening devices to collect more data. They also point to the following maxim to discourage premature judgments:

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

This saying has been attributed to cosmologist Martin Rees and astronomer Carl Sagan; however, I think it was circulating before these gentlemen were born. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Tracing this statement is difficult because it has evolved over time. A partial match for six of the eight words occurred in a scholarly paper read during a meeting of the “Victoria Institute” held in London in 1887. The Reverend William Wright’s paper titled “The Empire of the Hittites” argued that data about the movements of the Hittite people was incomplete; therefore, this paucity of evidence should not result in firm conclusions. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

It is urged that the Hittites could not have been settled in Southern Palestine because there are few direct references to their southern settlements in the inscriptions. To this I reply, that the absence of evidence is not evidence. The Egyptians marched up the coast of Syria, and turned inland to Megiddo and Kadesh, where they met the Hittites. The inscriptions are full of the doings of the Hittites at Megiddo and Kadesh, because the Egyptians went thither. They have nothing to say of the Hittites of Hebron, because the Egyptians did not go thither. The inscriptions are records of what happened during campaigns in which Egypt must have made great sacrifices.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Absence of Evidence Is Not Evidence of Absence

Notes:

  1. 1888, Journal of the Transactions of The Victoria Institute, or Philosophical Society of Great Britain, Volume 21, Ordinary Meeting on January 3, 1887, (Paper read at the meeting by the author), The Empire of the Hittites by the Rev. William Wright, Start Page 55, Quote Page 59, Published by The Victoria Institute, London. (HathiTrust Full View) link

Hurt People Hurt People

Rick Warren? Will Bowen? Yehuda Berg? Charles Eads? Oprah Winfrey? Helen Boyd? Doug Manning? Emotions Anonymous? Barbara Johnson? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: People who have been hurt or damaged in life sometimes respond by striking out and hurting the people who are around them. A concise adage expresses this viewpoint:

Hurt people hurt people.

This statement been ascribed to pastor Rick Warren, minister Will Bowen, and rabbi Yehuda Berg who are all bestselling authors. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: These three influential religious figures have all employed the saying, but only after it was circulating.

The earliest match located by QI appeared in an Amarillo, Texas newspaper in 1959. A columnist described a meeting of the Parent Teacher Association held at a local Junior High. One of the speakers was named Charles Eads. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

Charles claimed the teacher’s job is to take 25 or 30 live wires and make sure they are well grounded. And he said the human anatomy is a most peculiar mechanism. If you pat it on the back it often makes the head swell.

Then he made a statement that might give pause to a student of psychology. It’s worded peculiarly. The statement is, “Hurt people hurt people.” So, maybe before I wound someone next time, I’ll stop and think if it’s because I’ve been hurt, myself.

It is possible that Charles Eads coined the saying; alternatively, he was simply repeating a phrase he had heard previously.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Hurt People Hurt People

Notes:

  1. 1959 February 26, Amarillo Globe-Times, Polk Street Professor, Quote Page 30, Column 1, Amarillo, Texas. (Newspapers_com)

Behold the Turtle. He Makes Progress Only When His Neck Is Out

James B. Conant? Atomic Scientist? Anonymous Cartoonist? Leslie Groves? G. B. Carter? P. C. Keith?

Dear Quote Investigator: Making headway in life requires taking significant risks. This thought has been presented with a homespun aquatic analogy. Here are three versions:

  • Behold the turtle! He makes progress only when his neck is out.
  • Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.
  • Behold the turtle. He must stick his neck out if he’s ever to get anywhere.

This saying has been credited to James B. Conant, a chemist who was the President of Harvard University from 1933 to 1953. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: James B. Conant did employ this motto during a speech in 1949, but he did not take credit; instead, he attributed the expression to unnamed atomic scientists.

Evidence in 1945 indicates that the saying was circulating amongst the scientists and administrators of the Manhattan Project which produced the first nuclear weapons. The program began in 1942 and was disbanded in 1947.

On October 13, 1945 “Collier’s Weekly” published a piece about Major General Leslie R. Groves who directed the Manhattan Project. The single word “Manhattan” was used in the article as a synecdoche for the project. The article claimed that the adage appeared as a caption of a picture that was affixed to the wall of an office that was used by participants in the project. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

On the wall of one of Manhattan’s offices in Washington is a drawing of a turtle, head strained forward and trying hard to get up speed. Beneath the drawing are the words: “Behold the turtle! He makes progress only when his neck is out.” That is one of several reminders in Manhattan’s Washington offices that everyone from Groves down was expected to keep his neck out regardless of the consequences.

The article does not reveal the identity of the creator of the picture. So the ascription remains anonymous. The originator appears to have been a member of the Manhattan Project. A few years later James B. Conant helped to popularize the expression.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Behold the Turtle. He Makes Progress Only When His Neck Is Out

Notes:

  1. 1945 October 13, Collier’s Weekly, The Man Who Made Manhattan by Robert de Vore, Start Page 12, Quote Page 13, Column 1, The Crowell-Collier Publishing Company, Springfield, Ohio. (Unz)

The Mystery of Human Existence Lies Not In Just Staying Alive, But In Finding Something To Live For

Fyodor Dostoevsky? Andrew H. MacAndrew? Constance Garnett? Max Tegmark? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky contended that simply staying alive would not make a person content. A person must find something to live for. Strictly speaking, this viewpoint was articulated by a character in a story by Dostoevsky and not by Dostoevsky himself. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky appeared in 1880. A crucial chapter of the book called “The Grand Inquisitor” is sometimes published as a freestanding work. The Imaginative scenario in the chapter depicts the Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition confronting a Christ-like figure. The following passage is from a translation into English by Andrew H. MacAndrew. Boldface has been added: 1

This is something about which You were right. For the mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for. Without a concrete idea of what he is living for, man would refuse to live, would rather exterminate himself than remain on this earth, even if bread were scattered all around him.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Mystery of Human Existence Lies Not In Just Staying Alive, But In Finding Something To Live For

Notes:

  1. 1981, The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky, Translated by Andrew H. MacAndrew, Translation Copyright 1970, Book V: Pro and Contra, Chapter 5: The Grand Inquisitor, Quote Page 306 and 307, Bantam Books, New York. (Verified with scans)

One Had To Accept the Art of Our Day As It Was a Living Thing

Peggy Guggenheim? Ilya Ilyich Oblomov? Samuel Beckett?

Dear Quote Investigator: Peggy Guggenheim was one of the most powerful and influential collectors of modern art in the twentieth century. Yet, her initial tastes in art were classical. She preferred the works of old masters. Her viewpoint changed dramatically during a tempestuous love affair with an author and playwright who later became a Nobel Prize winner, Samuel Beckett. He suggested to her that one should accept the art of the day because it is a living thing. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1946 “Out of This Century: The Informal Memoirs of Peggy Guggenheim” appeared. The wealthy socialite described her intense relationship with Samuel Beckett during the 1930s, but she used the pseudonym “Oblomov” for Beckett. Ilya Ilyich Oblomov was the main character in a novel by the Russian writer Ivan Goncharov. Guggenheim’s name choice reflected an intriguing insight into Beckett’s nature. Oblomov’s nearly stationary ineffectuality was mirrored in the behaviors of several characters in Beckett’s later works.

Guggenheim did not use quotation marks when she relayed the advice she heard from Beckett. Boldface has been added to excerpts by QI: 1

In spite of the fact that I was opening a modern art gallery in London I much preferred old masters. Oblomov told me one had to accept the art of our day as it was a living thing. He had two passions besides James Joyce. One was Jack Yeats and the other a Dutch painter, Van Velde, a man of nearly forty, who seemed to be completely dominated by Picasso. To please Oblomov I bought a picture of Van Velde’s and promised to give him a show in London.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading One Had To Accept the Art of Our Day As It Was a Living Thing

Notes:

  1. 1946, Out of This Century: The Informal Memoirs of Peggy Guggenheim, Part 5, Chapter 1: Guggenheim Jeune, Quote Page 195, The Dial Press, New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link

The Eighth Wonder of the World Is Compound Interest

Albert Einstein? Napoleon Bonaparte? Baron Rothschild? Paul Samuelson? John D. Rockefeller? Advertising Copy Writer? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Salespeople and advertisers invoke the name of the scientific genius Albert Einstein when they wish to impress gullible individuals. The following grandiose statement has been attributed to Einstein:

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.

Sometimes the remark is credited to financial luminaries such as Baron Rothschild or John D. Rockefeller. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The saying appeared in a section titled “Probably Not By Einstein” in the authoritative volume “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press. 1

The earliest close match located by QI appeared in an advertisement for The Equity Savings & Loan Company published in the “Cleveland Plain Dealer” of Ohio in 1925. No attribution was specified. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 2

The Eighth Wonder of the World—is compound interest. It does things to money. At the Equity it doubles your money every 14 years, but here is an even greater wonder of it—

Deposit five dollars a week for twenty years, say, and let the interest accumulate. You will have actually put away only $5,200, but you will have $8,876.80. The difference of $3,676.80 is what 5% compound interest has done for you.

QI hypothesizes that the statement was crafted by an unknown advertising copy writer. Over the years it has been reassigned to famous people to make the comment sound more impressive and to encourage individuals to open bank accounts or purchase interest-bearing securities.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Eighth Wonder of the World Is Compound Interest

Notes:

  1. 2010, The Ultimate Quotable Einstein, Edited by Alice Calaprice, Section: Probably Not By Einstein, Quote Page 481, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey. (Verified on paper)
  2. 1925 April 27, Cleveland Plain Dealer, (Advertisement for The Equity Savings & Loan Co., 5701 Euclid Ave.) Quote Page 26, Column 6, Cleveland, Ohio. (GenealogyBank)