Mark Twain? Baltasar Gracian? John Maynard Keynes? Norman Angell? Joreth? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: An energetic liar can confuse, mislead, and deceive people. Yet, in many cases, that same liar is unable to reverse the deception. Hoodwinked people embrace their misperceptions. Here is a pertinent adage:
It’s easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.
Mark Twain has received credit for this statement, but I have been unable to find a citation, and I have become skeptical. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) authored this remark. The earliest close match known to QI appeared in a tweet from @Joreth on January 10, 2011. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:
“It’s easier to fool ppl than to convince them that they’ve been fooled” ~Mark Twain #skeptic #atheist #skepticism
Thematically related statements have a long history, and Twain did express similar sentiments in 1906 as shown further below.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Continue reading It’s Easier To Fool People Than To Convince Them That They’ve Been Fooled
Baltasar Gracián y Morales? Mountstuart Grant Duff? Joseph Jacobs? Christopher Maurer? Martin Fischer? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Thoughtful people periodically revise their opinions as their knowledge grows. Obstinate and foolish people develop an opinion and then refuse to change it even when evidence accumulates that their original position is deeply flawed. Clinging to erroneous beliefs is wrong-headed.
The Spanish Jesuit writer and philosopher Baltasar Gracián (Baltasar Gracián y Morales) said something like this in the 17th century. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: Baltasar Gracián wrote “Oráculo Manual y Arte de Prudencia” (“The Art of Worldly Wisdom”) in 1647. The work primarily consisted of three hundred maxims together with commentary. The following passage in Spanish discussed the wisdom of cultivating intellectual flexibility. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:
No aprender fuertemente. Todo necio es persuadido, y todo persuadido necio, y quanto mas erroneo su dictamen, es mayor su tenacidad: aun en caso de evidencia es ingenuidad el ceder, que no se ignora la razon que tuvo, y se conoce la galanteria que tiene.
In 1877 the British author Mountstuart Grant Duff published a piece in “The Fortnightly Review” of London which included material from Gracián’s book. The Spanish text above corresponded to maxim 183, and Duff presented the following partial translation:
Do not hold your opinions all too firmly.—Every blockhead is thoroughly persuaded that he is in the right, and every one who is all too firmly persuaded is a blockhead, and the more erroneous is his judgment the greater is the tenacity with which he holds it.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Continue reading Every Blockhead Is Thoroughly Persuaded That He Is In the Right