The More I Know About People, the Better I Like Dogs

Mark Twain? Madame de Sévigné? Madame Roland? Alphonse de Lamartine? Alphonse Toussenel? Louise de la Rameé? Alfred D’Orsay? Thomas Carlyle? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A popular expression combines disappointment with humanity together with praise for canines. Here are four versions:

  • The more I see of men, the more I like dogs.
  • The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog.
  • The more I know about people, the better I like my dog.
  • The better I get to know men, the more I find myself loving dogs.

These words have been attributed to Mark Twain and Alphonse Toussenel. Would you please explore the statement’s provenance?

Quote Investigator: Top quotation researcher Ralph Keyes remarked on the long history of ascriptions to a variety of famous French figures: 1

They include the inimitable letter-writer Madame de Sévigné (Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné, 1626-1696), the revolutionary writer Madame Roland (Marie-Jeanne Philipon, 1754-1793), author-politician Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869), author Alphonse Toussenel (1803-1885), and author Louise de la Rameé (1839-1908).

Yet, QI and other researchers have not yet found any published evidence in the 1600s or 1700s; hence, the linkage to Madame de Sévigné and Madame Roland is currently unsupported.

The earliest strong match located by QI appeared in “Tablettes Historiques et Littéraires” in 1822, and the attribution was anonymous. Passages in French are followed by English translations. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 2

Nous venons de recevoir le Miroir de la Somme, il contient les niaiseries suivantes: Une dame disait l’autre jour: plus je connais les hommes, mieux j’aime les chiens.

We just received the Mirror of the Somme, it contains the following nonsense: A lady said the other day: the more I know men, the better I like dogs.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 2006, The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes, Quote Page 47, 48 and 283, St Martin’s Griffin, New York. (Verified with hardcopy)
  2. 1822 November 13, Tablettes Historiques et Littéraires: Journal de l’industrie, des mœurs, des théâtres et des beaux arts, Supplément, Mélanges, Start Page 37, Quote Page 38, Lyons, France. (Google Books Full View) link

The Stone Age Did Not End Because the World Ran Out of Stones, and the Oil Age Will Not End Because We Run Out of Oil

Ahmed Zaki Yamani? Don Huberts? Nader H. Sultan? Andrew Hoskinson? Jeroen van der Veer? Thomas Friedman? William McDonough?

Dear Quote Investigator: A recent presentation about advances in renewable energy emphasized the dramatic cost reductions occurring in solar and wind power. The speaker argued that reliance on fossil fuels would decrease substantially in the future. The following cogent remark exemplified the thesis:

The Stone Age didn’t end for lack of stone, and the oil age will end long before the world runs out of oil.

The words were credited to Ahmed Zaki Yamani who was the Minister of Oil for Saudi Arabia for more than twenty years. Would you please explore the provenance of this expression?

Quote Investigator: This statement is difficult to trace because it can be phrased in many ways. The earliest close match located by QI appeared in July 1999 in the London periodical “The Economist” within an article about fuel cell technology. Don Huberts who worked for the oil company Royal Dutch/Shell as the head of a division called Shell Hydrogen delivered the line. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

“The stone age did not end because the world ran out of stones, and the oil age will not end because we run out of oil.” Thus Don Huberts, who is convinced that fuel cells, which generate clean energy from hydrogen, will soon begin replacing power stations and cars that mostly burn coal, oil or natural gas.

Yamani employed the saying the following year in June 2000 (see further below). The influential “New York Times” columnist Thomas L. Friedman has stated that Yamani used the expression in the 1970s, but QI has not yet found published evidence to support that assertion.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1999 July 24, The Economist, Section Business, Article: Fuel cells meet big business, Start Page 59, Quote Page 59, Economist Group, London, England. (ProQuest; also accessible via economist.com; article date on economist.com is July 22, 1999) link

The Stupid Person’s Idea of the Clever Person

Speaker: Julie Burchill? Elizabeth Bowen? Ezra Klein? Paul Krugman? Andrew Sullivan? Hermione Eyre? William Donaldson?

Target: Stephen Fry? Aldous Huxley? Dick Armey? Newt Gingrich?

Dear Quote Investigator: Recently, I heard an uncomplimentary quip applied to an intellectual. Here are three versions:

  • The stupid person’s idea of a clever person
  • The dumb person’s idea of a smart person
  • The stupid person’s idea of what a thoughtful person sounds like

Would you please help me to trace this expression?

Quote Investigator: In 1936 Irish author Elizabeth Bowen published a review in the London periodical “The Spectator” of a book by Aldous Huxley. She began her piece with a pointed remark about Huxley: 1

Mr. Huxley has been the alarming young man for a long time, a sort of perpetual clever nephew who can be relied on to flutter the lunch-party.

Interestingly, Bowen employed the saying under analysis, but she did not imply that Huxley was stupid; instead, she reiterated that he was clever. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:

He is at once the truly clever person and the stupid person’s idea of the clever person; he is expected to be relentless, to administer intellectual shocks.

Many others have used similar constructs, but Elizabeth Bowen’s remark is currently the earliest known instance.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1936 December 11, The Spectator, Mr. Huxley’s Essays by Elizabeth Bowen (Review of The Olive Tree and Other Essays by Aldous Huxley), Quote Page 24, London, England. (Online archive at archive.spectator.co.uk; accessed January 3, 2018)

Never Continue in a Job You Don’t Enjoy

Johnny Carson? Kenneth Tynan? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: The late-night talk-show host Johnny Carson was one of the most successful entertainers in U.S. history. He spent thirty years as the star of “The Tonight Show” on the NBC television network. Before he embraced the celebrated nocturnal hosting duties he held nine different jobs. That fact might help to explain the following guidance attributed to him:

Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy.

His widely-distributed career advice quotation includes the above remark together with comments about inner peace and physical health. Would you kindly help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: Johnny Carson attended high school in Norfolk, Nebraska, and a few decades later he was pleased to receive an invitation to deliver the 1976 commencement address. His speech was described by drama critic Kenneth Tynan who wrote a lengthy profile of Carson in “The New Yorker” in 1978. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Having picked a profession, feel no compulsion to stick to it: “If you don’t like it, stop doing it. Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy.”

After Carson’s prepared remarks he engaged in a question-and-answer session. He also highlighted the pride engendered by the opportunity to talk at his former school:

The applause at the end was so clamorous that Carson felt compelled to improvise a postscript. “If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself,” he said. “And if you like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you will have had more success than you could possibly have imagined. I thank you all very much.”

Over the years the passages above have been combined and streamlined to generate a popular quotation.

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Notes:

  1. 1978 February 20, The New Yorker, Profiles: Fifteen Years of the Salto Mortale by Kenneth Tynan, Start Page 47, Quote Page 85, Published by The New Yorker Magazine, Inc., New York. (Accessed Online Archive of Page Scans at archives.newyorker.com on November 4, 2017) link

Pohl’s Law: Nothing Is So Good that Somebody Somewhere Won’t Hate It

Frederik Pohl? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Frederik Pohl was an influential award-winning science-fiction author and editor. Apparently, Pohl’s Law states:

Nothing is so good that somebody somewhere won’t hate it.

Would you please examine this linkage?

Quote Investigator: Multiple statements have been labeled “Pohl’s Law” over the years. In 1966 Pohl was the editor of the science fiction (SF) magazine “Worlds of IF”, and he responded to letters from readers in a section called “Hue and Cry”. Pohl crafted an adage and affixed his name to it. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Pohl’s Law: The more hysterically any entity reacts to criticism, the more you’re likely to find to criticize about it.—Editor

In 1977 SF author Spider Robinson published a review column in “Galaxy Magazine”. He printed a version of “Pohl’s Law” that matched the one specified by the questioner: 2

Although Pohl’s Law states that nothing is so good that someone somewhere won’t hate it, I can hardly imagine anyone failing to enjoy this delightful album. Oh, and the George Barr cover is lovely.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1966 December, Worlds of IF, Volume 16, Number 12, Edited by Frederik Pohl, Hue and Cry (Letters to the Editor), Start Page 160, Quote Page 162, Galaxy Publishing Corporation, New York. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1977 September, Galaxy Magazine, Edited by James Patrick Baen, Volume 38, Number 7, Galaxy Bookshelf by Spider Robinson, Start Page 118, Quote Page 122, UPD Publishing Company: Subsidiary of Universal Publishing & Distributing Corporation, Scarsdale, New York. (Verified with scans)

Only Three People Understood It: The Prince Consort Who is Dead, a German Professor Who Has Gone Mad, and I Who Have Forgotten All About It

Lord Palmerston? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is an anecdote about a fiendishly complex diplomatic agreement. Negotiating, signing, and comprehending the pact had sent one person to the grave, sent a second to a lunatic asylum, and left a third with memory loss. Are you familiar with this tale?

Quote Investigator: This story is based on a remark ascribed to British statesman Lord Palmerston who died in 1865 about the intricate Schleswig-Holstein Question.

The earliest match located by QI appeared in an 1873 Italian book about political and military events in 1866 titled “Un Po’ Più Di Luce Sugli Eventi Politici E Militari Dell’ Anno 1866” by Alfonso La Marmora. Here is an Italian passage followed by an English translation. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

La questione danese, o per meglio dire dello Schleswig-Holstein era talmente complicata e oscura che Lord Palmerston non essendo riuscito diplomaticamente a impedire quella guerra, soleva spiritosamente raccontare, che tre soli individui conoscevano a fondo quella imbrogliata controversia. Uno era il principe Alberto, che disgraziatamente era morto; il secondo un uomo di Stato danese, che era impazzito; il terzo lui, Lord Palmerston, che l’aveva dimenticata.

The Danish question, or better put that of Schleswig-Holstein, was so utterly complicated and obscure that Lord Palmerston, not having been successful in preventing that war through diplomacy, used to quip that only three individuals knew the cause of the tangled dispute. One was Prince Albert, who unfortunately was dead; the second was a Danish official who had gone mad; and the third was he himself, Lord Palmerston, who had forgotten it.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1873, “Un Po’ Più Di Luce Sugli Eventi Politici E Militari Dell’ Anno 1866” by Alfonso La Marmora, Second Edition, Quote Page 30 and 31, Firenze, G. Barbe`ra. (Google Books full view) link

In God We Trust; Others Must Provide Data

W. Edwards Deming? Edwin R. Fisher? Bernard Fisher? Cecil R. Reynolds? Brian L. Joiner? Ronald D. Snee? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Would you please examine a humorous empirically-minded statement that expands upon a famous motto appearing on U.S. currency. Here are three versions:

  • In God we trust; all others must use data.
  • In God we trust; all others must bring data.
  • In God we trust; others must have data.

When do you think this quip originated?

Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI was spoken by Professor of Pathology Edwin R. Fisher who was addressing a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1978. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

I should like to close by citing a well-recognized cliche in scientific circles. The cliche is, “In God we trust, others must provide data.” What we need is good scientific data before I am willing to accept and submit to the proposition that smoking is a hazard to the nonsmoker.

Fisher stated that the adage was already a cliché in 1978. Thus, the originator remains anonymous at this time.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 1978, Hearing before the Subcommittee on Tobacco of the Committee on Agriculture, House of Representatives, Ninety-Fifth Congress, Second Session, Title of Hearing: Effect of Smoking on Nonsmokers, Date of Hearing: September 7, 1978, Statement of Edwin R. Fisher M.D. (Director of Laboratories, Shadyside Hospital, and Professor of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine), Start Page 2, Quote Page 5, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington D.C. (HathiTrust) link

The Plural of Anecdote Is Not Data

Kenneth Kernaghan? P.K. Kuruvilla? Paul Samuelson? Edith Greene? Irwin S. Bernstein? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: Each datum in a collection of data may be considered a story. Yet, it is often difficult to make rigorous conclusions based on a motley collection of anecdotes. Scientific data should be collected in a methodical manner according to a well-specified protocol. This viewpoint is concisely stated as follows:

The plural of anecdote is not data.

Would you please explore the history of this statement?

Quote Investigator: The earliest strong match known to QI appeared in an article by Kenneth Kernaghan and P. K. Kuruvilla in the journal “Canadian Public Administration” in 1982. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

In that the plural of the word anecdote is not data, it is difficult to provide hard information on selection problems.

The citation above is listed in the valuable reference “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs” from Yale University Press.

Interestingly, the same expression without the negation is also an adage which has been explored by QI in a separate article here.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, Quote Page 202, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified in Dictionary of Modern Proverbs) (Citation for adage – not yet verified by QI: 1982 Kenneth Kernaghan, “Merit and Motivation: Public Personnel Management in Canada,” Canadian Public Administration 25: 703; text is visible in a snippet from the Google Books database)

The Plural of Anecdote is Data

Raymond Wolfinger? Roger G. Noll? Richard F. Fenno Jr.? Daniel Patrick Moynihan? George Stigler? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: An anecdote is a single fact or datum. When many of these facts are combined the collection is naturally called data. Apparently, a social scientist coined the following saying:

The plural of anecdote is data.

Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: The earliest known instance appeared in a 1980 book chapter titled “The Game of Health Care Regulation” by Roger G. Noll. This citation is listed in the valuable reference “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs” from Yale University Press. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

Most of the evidence is anecdotal. Nevertheless, in the words of a leading political scientist, Raymond Wolfinger, the plural of anecdote is data, and the data seem to be consistent with the theory.

This is an illuminating statement, but it is important to recognize that data used in scientific experiments should be gathered in a systematic manner according to a well-defined protocol. A haphazard group of anecdotes typically do not yield a good data set. Hence, the negation of the expression above is an adage to some researchers:

The plural of anecdote is not data.

This adage is explored by QI in a separate article here. Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

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Notes:

  1. 2012, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs, Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro, Quote Page 202, Yale University Press, New Haven. (Verified in Dictionary of Modern Proverbs) (Citation for adage – not yet verified by QI: 1980 Roger G. Noll, “The Game of Health Care Regulation,” in Issues in Health Care Regulation, edited by Richard S. Gordon (New York: McGraw-Hill) 136; text is visible in a snippet from the Google Books database)

There Is Nothing Sadder in This World Than To Awake Christmas Morning and Not Be a Child

Erma Bombeck? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: The popular humorist Erma Bombeck once wrote about the melancholy feelings of some Christmas celebrants when they leave childhood behind. Would you please help me to find a citation?

Quote Investigator: In 1967 Erma Bombeck wrote the following in her syndicated column, Emphasis added to excerpts: 1

There is nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.

Not to feel the cold on your bare feet as you rush to the Christmas tree in the living room. Not to have your eyes sparkle at the wonderment of discovery. Not to rip the ribbons off the shiny boxes with such abandon.

One more citation and a conclusion appears below.

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Notes:

  1. 1967 December 22, Courier-Post, Where Was the Wonder Lost: Joy to the Little Ones: You Can’t Take Child Out of Christmas by Erma Bombeck, Quote Page 19, Column 1, Camden, New Jersey. (Newspapers_com)