Douglas Adams? Deep Thought? Geoffrey Hinton? Apocryphal?
Question for Quote Investigator: The number forty-two is sometimes presented as the answer to life’s deepest question. Where did this answer originate? Who suggested this eccentric and opaque answer?
Reply from Quote Investigator: In 1978 BBC Radio 4 broadcast the science fiction comedy series “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” created by Douglas Adams. The fourth episode recounted a tale about the answer to humanity’s ultimate existential question.
Millions of years ago a race of hyper-intelligent pan-dimensional beings decided to build a computer called Deep Thought to solve the problem of Life, the Universe and Everything. After the computer was finally built and the question was posed, the response was displeasing. Deep Thought stated that it would require an additional seven and a half million years to arrive at an answer.
After this long waiting period elapsed, a magnificent ceremony took place, and the pan-dimensional beings waited expectantly for an answer. The speakers identified as One, Two, and Three are computer attendants. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:
DEEP THOUGHT: All right. The Answer to Everything …
TWO: Yes … !
DEEP THOUGHT: Life, The Universe and Everything …
ONE: Yes … !
DEEP THOUGHT: Is …
THREE: Yes … !
DEEP THOUGHT: IS …
ONE/TWO: Yes … !!!
DEEP THOUGHT: Forty two.
(Pause. Actually quite a long one)
TWO: We’re going to get lynched, you know that.
DEEP THOUGHT: It was a tough assignment.
Deep Thought indicated that simply knowing the Answer was not enough. The next task was to build an even larger computer with an organic component to determine the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Deep Thought said it would design the new computer, and it would be called Earth.
Below are three additional selected citations and a conclusion.
Continue reading The Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything Is Forty-Two
Douglas Adams? Donald A. Adams? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: A popular business adage states that providing real service to a customer requires a crucial added ingredient known as sincerity and integrity. This notion has confusingly been credited to two different people: Douglas Adams and Donald A. Adams.
The first was a science fiction humorist who wrote “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”. The second was a lawyer and educator who taught business law. Would you please help me to determine the correct ascription?
Quote Investigator: In August 1926 “The Rotarian” magazine published an address delivered by Donald A. Adams who was the President of Rotary International, a voluntary nonprofit service organization. The speech included a passage about providing genuine service. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:
We should all put into practice the Golden Rule of dealing with the other fellow as we would like to have him deal with us. But Service is something more than selling goods which are all wool and a yard wide and making delivery according to the contract. To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money and that thing is sincerity and integrity.
Douglas Adams was born many years later in 1952. The attribution shifted to hm by 2002. Perhaps an ambiguous designation such as “D. Adams” led someone to incorrectly change the attribution of this adage from the lesser-known Donald A. Adams to the well-known Douglas Adams.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Continue reading To Give Real Service You Must Add Something — Sincerity and Integrity
Scott Adams? Ricky Gervais? Douglas Adams? Anonymous?
Quote Investigator: Using creativity to solve a problem or create an artwork requires openness, originality, and imagination. Yet, the process inevitably produces some missteps and gaffes. That is why the following is my favorite quotation:
Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.
This statement has been attributed to comedian Ricky Gervais, cartoonist Scott Adams, and science fiction humorist Douglas Adams. Would you please determine who the actual originator was?
Quote Investigator: In 1996 Scott Adams published “The Dilbert Principle” which comically argued that the least competent people moved into management positions. In the final chapter Adams set forth some of his own ideas about running a successful company:
In this chapter you will find a variety of untested suggestions from an author who has never successfully managed anything but his cats. (And now that I think of it, I haven’t seen the gray one for two days.)
Adams said the following about the error-prone nature of creativity. Boldface has been added to experts:
Finally—and this is the last time I’m going to say it—we’re all idiots and we’re going to make mistakes. That’s not necessarily bad. I have a saying: “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”
Keep your people fresh, happy, and efficient. Set a target, then get out of the way. Let art happen. Sometimes idiots can accomplish wonderful things.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
Continue reading Creativity Is Allowing Yourself to Make Mistakes. Art Is Knowing Which Ones to Keep