Charles Sidney Burwell? Charles F. Kettering? Helen Clapesattle? Carl Sandburg? Camille Pierre Dadant? Josh Billings? William Osler? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Educators and researchers know that knowledge in fields like science and medicine is continuously growing and changing. Thus, today’s verities become tomorrow’s fallacies. A lecturer once candidly admitted these weaknesses by saying something like the following:
Half of what we are teaching you is wrong. Unfortunately, we don’t know which half.
This humble message has been attributed to Charles Sidney Burwell who was Dean of the Harvard Medical School, Charles F. Kettering who was the head of research at General Motors Corporation, and Carl Sandburg who was a poet and historian. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: This is a difficult saying to trace because it can be expressed in many ways. The earliest match located by QI appeared in a talk delivered at an agricultural conference in 1917 by Camille Pierre Dadant who was the editor of “American Bee Journal”. Dadant spoke about bees and horticulture while acknowledging the limitations of contemporary scientific insights:1917, The Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Illinois Farmers’ Institute: A Handbook of Agriculture, Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting, Held in Streator, Illinois on February 21, 22, … Continue reading
It is quite probable that half of what I am going to tell you to-day ain’t so, but I don’t know which half. It will be for you to find out. [Laughter.]
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1917, The Twenty-Second Annual Report of the Illinois Farmers’ Institute: A Handbook of Agriculture, Proceedings of the Twenty-Second Annual Meeting, Held in Streator, Illinois on February 21, 22, and 23, 1917, Friday Afternoon Session on February 23, 1917, The Usefulness of Bees in Horticulture and the Value of Honey as a Diet by Mr. C. P. Dadant, Start Page 176, Quote Page 177, Illinois State Journal Company, Springfield, Illinois. (Google Books Full View) link|