When You Don’t Promote, a Terrible Thing Happens . . . Nothing

P. T. Barnum? Pat Williams? Billboard? Ford Saeks? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Human attention is a scarce commodity. Considerable effort is required to attract potential customers to a new business or product. Here are two versions of a pertinent saying:

  • Without advertising, a terrible thing happens . . . Nothing.
  • Without promotion, something terrible happens . . . Nothing.

These statements have been attributed to the famous showman Phineas T. Barnum. What do you think?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that this saying was employed by P. T. Barnum who died in 1891.

The earliest strong match located by QI appeared in December 1975 in “The Danville Register” of Virginia. A radio station printed a message encouraging readers to purchase broadcast advertisements. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

When you don’t Promote
A terrible thing Happens
NOTHING
WDVA/RADIO

The author was unspecified, and QI believes an anonymous copywriter crafted the statement. Many years later, circa 1999, the saying was implausibly reassigned to P.T. Barnum.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading When You Don’t Promote, a Terrible Thing Happens . . . Nothing

Notes:

  1. 1975 December 7, The Danville Register, (Advertisement), Quote Page 15B, Column 3, Danville, Virginia. (Newspapers_com)

Dear Sir, I Have Read Your Play. Oh, My Dear Sir. Yours Faithfully

Herbert Beerbohm Tree? Albert Chevalier? John Clayton? Johnston Forbes-Robertson? John Golden? James Wallen? John Alfred Calthrop? Charles Dillingham? Anonymous? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: Successful producers and directors are regularly sent screenplays and scripts by individuals with high aspirations. Unfortunately, these products of creativity are often terrible. One theater manager in the 1800s responded with a devastating two sentence assessment. The critical words have been attributed to the prominent English actor-manager Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match located by QI appeared in “The Era” newspaper of London in 1888. A short item of “Theatrical Gossip” credited the actor and theater manager John Clayton with delivering the harsh assessment in a letter. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

A young author sent a play to the late Mr John Clayton, and begged him to read it. After a few days he received the MS. and the following characteristic reply:—“Dear Sir,—I have read your play— Oh! my dear sir.—Yours, J.C.”

The same item appeared in other newspapers in 1888 such as the “South Wales Echo” of Glamorgan, Wales. 2

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Dear Sir, I Have Read Your Play. Oh, My Dear Sir. Yours Faithfully

Notes:

  1. 1888 November 10, The Era, Theatrical Gossip, Quote Page 10, Column 2, London, England. (British Newspaper Archive)
  2. 1888 November 10, South Wales Echo, Green-room Gossip, Quote Page 2, Column 6, Glamorgan, Wales. (British Newspaper Archive)

God Is Really Only Another Artist. He Invented the Giraffe, the Elephant, and the Cat. He Has No Real Style

Pablo Picasso? Françoise Gilot? Carlton Lake? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The famous Spanish painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso contemplated the dissimilarity of the animals created by God, e.g., the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He concluded that God had no consistent style. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The artist Françoise Gilot was the lover and muse of Pablo Picasso between 1943 and 1953. During this period they had two children together. In 1964 Gilot published a memoir titled “Life with Picasso”. The art critic Carlton Lake was her co-author, and he wrote about the accuracy of her memories in the foreword to the book: 1

Throughout our work on it, I have been continuously impressed by her demonstration of the extent to which that much abused term “total recall” can be literally true. Françoise knows exactly what she said, what Pablo said, every step of the way for the ten years and more that they spent together. The direct quotations from Picasso are exactly that.

Early in their relationship Gilot visited Picasso, and he showed her a large album of his prints which included images of sculptures. Picasso commented on the diversity of styles displayed within his prints. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

He doesn’t know what he wants. No wonder his style is so ambiguous. It’s like God’s, God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant, and the cat. He has no real style. He just keeps on trying other things. The same with this sculptor. First he works from nature; then he tries abstraction.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading God Is Really Only Another Artist. He Invented the Giraffe, the Elephant, and the Cat. He Has No Real Style

Notes:

  1. 1964, Life with Picasso by Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Section: Foreword, Quote Page 9, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1964, Life with Picasso by Françoise Gilot and Carlton Lake, Part I, Quote Page 50, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York. (Verified with scans)

Self-Trust Is the First Secret of Success

Ralph Waldo Emerson? Apocryphal?

Portrait of EmersonDear Quote Investigator: Anxiety and self-doubt can sabotage one’s attempts to achieve success. The transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said: Self-trust is the first secret of success.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1870 Ralph Waldo Emerson collected a set of his essays under the title “Society and Solitude: Twelve Chapters”. The essay on “Success” contained the following advice. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Self-trust is the first secret of success, the belief that, if you are here, the authorities of the universe put you here, and for cause, or with some task strictly appointed you in your constitution, and so long as you work at that you are well and successful. It by no means consists in rushing prematurely to a showy feat that shall catch the eye and satisfy spectators. It is enough if you work in the right direction.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Self-Trust Is the First Secret of Success

Notes:

  1. 1871 (1870 Copyright), Society and Solitude: Twelve Chapters by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Chapter: Success, Start Page 251, Quote Page 261 and 262, James R. Osgood and Company, Boston, Massachusetts. (Google Books Full View) link

Like Two Bald Men Fighting Over a Comb

Jorge Luis Borges? Phaedrus? Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian? Clarke Jervoise? Leo Tolstoy? H. L. Mencken? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following trenchant simile is the best description of a futile conflict that I have ever heard:

The clash was like two bald men fighting over a comb.

The prominent Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges employed this figure of speech, but I do not think he coined it. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: A precursor tale about two bald men has been ascribed to the ancient Roman fabulist Phaedrus who wrote in the style of Aesop. The translation into English given below was published in 1761. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

A Bald Man chanced to find a Comb upon the publick Way. One equally destitute of Hair came Up, and claim’d his equal Share. The first immediately produced the Booty, and withal added: “The Gods ’tis plain favour us, but envious Fate has made us find (as the Proverb is) a Coal instead of a Treasure.”

The Complaint of this Fable suits the Man who has been disappointed in his Hopes.

The two men did not fight in this tale. One man simply bemoaned their joint fate because neither could use the comb.

The Eighteenth century French writer Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian was best known for the fables he published. A tale of two bald men fighting over a piece of ivory appeared in 1792. The winner of the fisticuffs unhappily determined that the prize was a comb: 2

Un jour deux chauves dans un coin
Virent briller certain morceau d’ivoire:
Chacun d’eux veut l’avoir; dispute et coups de poing.
Le vainqueur y perdit, comme vous pouvez croire,
Le peu de cheveux gris qui lui restoient encor
Un peigne étoit le beau trésor
Qu’il eut pour prix de sa victoire.

In 1806 an English translation of the tale appeared in “Select Fables. Written for the Purpose of Instilling Into the Minds of Early Youth a True Sense of Religion and Virtue”: 3

On a certain day, two bald-headed men saw a piece of ivory shining in a corner:—each wished to have it; they disputed which of the two had the best right to it, and which had first perceived it. Both maintained their claims, and, from small words, came to blows; and the blows were so violent, that the battle was soon ended.

You will easily suppose, that the conqueror lost, in the contest, the few straggling grey hairs he had left. —

The object of the quarrel was brought forward to the light:—it was an ivory comb!

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Like Two Bald Men Fighting Over a Comb

Notes:

  1. 1761, The Fables of Phædrus in Latin and English: The Translation as Literal as the Idioms of the Two Languages Will Admit by Mr. Hoadly and Several Other Eminent Hands, For Use In Schools, Book 5, Fable 7, Quote Page 137, Printed for John Exshaw, Dublin, Ireland. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1792, Ouvres de M. de Florian (Works by M. de Florian), Fables de M. de Florian: De l’Académie Françoise de celles de Madrid, Florence, etc. (M. de Florian’s Fables: From the French Academy of Madrid, Florence, etc.) by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian, Livre 5, Fable 7: Les deux Chauves, Quote Page 172, De l’imprimerie de P. Didot, Paris, France, Chez Girod et Tessier, Paris, France. (Google Books Full View) link
  3. 1806, Select Fables. Written for the Purpose of Instilling Into the Minds of Early Youth a True Sense of Religion and Virtue, Translated from the French of Mons. Florian, Fable 28: The Two Bald Heads, Quote Page 90, Printed for J. Harris, London. (Google Books Full View) link

The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, But Indifference

Elie Wiesel? Wilhelm Stekel? Rosalie Gabler? John Le Carré? Rollo May? August Strindberg? William Hale White? Otto M. Spangler? David Cornwell?

Dear Quote Investigator: Love and hate are intense emotions that are sometimes mingled together. The following statement makes a fascinating point:

The opposite of love is not hate; it’s indifference.

This adage has often been attributed to activist and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, but I think it might have a longer history. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: Elie Wiesel did employ this expression in 1986, but it was already in circulation before he was born.

The earliest close match in English located by QI appeared in “The Beloved Ego: Foundations of the New Study of the Psyche” by prominent Austrian psychologist Wilhelm Stekel. The text was translated from German into English by Rosalie Gabler and published in 1921. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

There is no love without hate; and there is no hate without love. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference; the opposite of feeling can only be the absence of feeling. Disinclination, which is coloured by feeling, often only serves the purpose of concealing and protecting oneself against an inclination. Love and hate must go hand in hand; and the people we love most we hate also, because hate is grounded in the nature of love.

The German title of the work above was “Das Liebe Ich: Grundzüge Einer Neuen Dietätik der Seele”, but QI has not yet examined that book.

The quotation in German was present in the 1921 edition of Stekel’s work “Die Geschlechtskälte der Frau: Eine Psychopathologie des Weiblichen Liebeslebens” (“Frigidity in Woman: A Psychopathology of Women’s Love Life”): 2

Der Gegensatz von Liebe ist nicht Haß, sondern Gleichgültigkeit; der Gegensatz eines Gefühls kann nur die Gefühllosigkeit sein.

The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference; the opposite of feeling can only be the absence of feeling

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Opposite of Love Is Not Hate, But Indifference

Notes:

  1. 1921, The Beloved Ego: Foundations of the New Study of the Psyche by Wilhelm Stekel M.D., Translation by Rosalie Gabler (Member of the British Psychological Society and of the Society for the Study of Orthopsychics), Chapter 2: The Fight of the Sexes, Quote Page 16, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Company, London. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1921, Title: Die Geschlechtskälte der Frau: Eine Psychopathologie des Weiblichen Liebeslebens (English: Frigidity in Woman: A Psychopathology of Women’s Love Life), Author Wilhelm Stekel, Volume 3: Störungen des Trieb-und Affektlebens, Chapter 10: Der Kampf der Geschlechter, Quote Page 229, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Berlin and Wien. (Internet archive archive.org) link

Make War a Mere Contest of Machines Without Men and Without Loss of Life

Nikola Tesla? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote investigator: The famous inventor Nikola Tesla envisioned a future in which human lives would be spared during warfare because advanced technology would allow the construction of fighting automatons. This would transform “battle into a mere spectacle” of machines in combat. Tesla hoped that the end of bloodshed would lead to an enduring peace. I am looking for a citation. Would you please help?

Quote investigator: In 1900 Nikola Tesla published an article in “The Century Magazine”. He described his construction of a model boat that could be steered and controlled via wireless signals. He called the device a “telautomaton”, and he suggested that full scale vessels could carry explosives. He also imagined more advanced telautomatons able to act independently of human control. Yet, Tesla’s paradoxical goal was the end of warfare. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

So long as men meet in battle, there will be bloodshed. Bloodshed will ever keep up barbarous passion. To break this fierce spirit, a radical departure must be made, an entirely new principle must be introduced, something that never existed before in warfare—a principle which will forcibly, unavoidably, turn the battle into a mere spectacle, a play, a contest without loss of blood. To bring on this result men must be dispensed with: machine must fight machine. But how accomplish that which seems impossible?

The answer is simple enough: produce a machine capable of acting as though it were part of a human being—no mere mechanical contrivance, comprising levers, screws, wheels, clutches, and nothing more, but a machine embodying a higher principle, which will enable it to perform its duties as though it had intelligence, experience reason, judgment, a mind!

Below are additional excerpts and selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Make War a Mere Contest of Machines Without Men and Without Loss of Life

Notes:

  1. 1900 June, The Century Magazine, Volume 60, Number 2, The Problem of Increasing Human Energy With Special Reference To the Harnessing of the Sun’s Energy by Nikola Tesla, Start Page 175, Quote Page 184, Column 1, The Century Company, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

Immense Power Is Acquired by Assuring Yourself in Your Secret Reveries That You Were Born To Control Affairs

Andrew Carnegie? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: U.S. business titan and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie apparently placed great value on psychological techniques such as envisioning success and using affirmations. He believed that one could obtain “immense power” via “secret reveries”. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1885 Andrew Carnegie addressed the graduating class of Curry Commercial College in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He encouraged the students to pursue the highest positions in society. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Assuming that you have all obtained employment and are fairly started, my first advice to you is “aim high” I would not give a fig for the young man who does not already see himself the partner or the head of an important firm. Do not rest content for a moment in your thoughts as head clerk, or foreman, or general manager in any concern, no matter how extensive. Say each to yourself, “My place is at the top.”

Be king, in your dreams. Immense power is acquired by assuring yourself in your secret reveries that you were born to control affairs. Be fully satisfied that you are intended by nature for a millionaire, an honest, useful millionaire; every poor young man is. I see the first unmistakeable mark of millionairship upon every one of you in the certificates you have just won. Make your vow that you will reach that position with untarnished reputation . . .

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Immense Power Is Acquired by Assuring Yourself in Your Secret Reveries That You Were Born To Control Affairs

Notes:

  1. 1885, Booklet: Address to the Students of the Curry Commercial College Delivered at Liberty Hall Pittsburg by Andrew Carnegie on June 23, 1885, Quote Page 6, Published by Curry Commercial College, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. (Note: Page images were appended to “Intereses de Bilbao, 1837” in Google Books Database on May 15, 2019) (Google Books Full View) link

If Your Experiment Needs Statistics, You Ought To Have Done a Better Experiment

Ernest Rutherford? John M. Hammersley? Judy Campisi? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: The raw data collected in some scientific experiments is extensively processed via statistical operations. The tentative conclusions of this research may be accompanied with complex discussions of confidence levels.

The prominent physicist Ernest Rutherford preferred decisive experiments that did not require sophisticated statistical analysis. Here are three embodiments of this viewpoint:

  • If you need statistics, you did the wrong experiment.
  • If you need statistics to do science, then it’s not science.
  • If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.

Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: In October 1961 mathematician John M. Hammersley of Oxford University ascribed the third statement above to Ernest Rutherford. Hammersley was discussing Monte Carlo methods which are statistics-based methods used to construct efficient computer programs capable of generating approximate answers. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

In Monte Carlo work we can take heed of Lord Rutherford’s dictum: “If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to have done a better experiment.” In a sense, all good Monte Carlo work is self-liquidating: although we start out with random numbers in order to solve a problem, which may seem to be intractable by conventional numerical analysis, nevertheless we should strive to reduce their influence on the final result, and one should always seize any opportunity to replace a part or even the whole of the sampling experiment by exact analysis.

The evidentiary value of this 1961 citation is lessened by the fact that Rutherford died in 1937.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading If Your Experiment Needs Statistics, You Ought To Have Done a Better Experiment

Notes:

  1. 1962 August, U. S. Army Research Office (Durham), Report No. 62-2, Proceedings of the Seventh Conference on the design of Experiments in Army Research Development and Testing, Sponsored by the Army Mathematics Steering Committee conducted at U. S. Army Signal Research & Development Laboratory, Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, Date: October 18-20, 1961, Article: Monte Carlo Methods, Author: J. M. Hammersley (Oxford University and Princeton University), Start Page 17, Quote Page 18 and 19, Published by: U. S. Army Research Office (Durham), Box CM, Duke Station, Durham, North Carolina. (HathiTrust Full View)

A Ph.D. Thesis Consists of Transferring Bones from One Graveyard to Another

J. Frank Dobie? Susan Riley? Joseph B. Mohr? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Performing scholarly research requires scrutinizing bibliographies carefully, retrieving tomes conscientiously, and examining text closely. Afterwards the researcher must construct a thorough bibliography for their own creative work. A wit crafted the following humorous description of the process:

Doctoral research is similar to moving old bones from one graveyard to another.

Would you please explore this saying?

Quote Investigator: In 1943 “The Saturday Evening Post” published an article titled “Maverick Professor” about University of Texas English Professor J. Frank Dobie who specialized in folklore and rural Texas. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

The mere fact that he is that rare phenomenon, a full professor without a Ph.D. degree, is enough to rile some of his fellow faculty members. Nor does his attitude exactly promote good will.

“I early learned,” he has said, “that a Ph.D. thesis consists of transferring bones from one graveyard to another.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading A Ph.D. Thesis Consists of Transferring Bones from One Graveyard to Another

Notes:

  1. 1943 September 11, The Saturday Evening Post, Maverick Professor by Jeanne Douglas and Liz Wharton, Start Page 14, Quote Page 61, Column 2, Saturday Evening Post Society, Inc., Indianapolis Indiana. (EBSCO MasterFILE Premier)