It’s Easier To Fool People Than To Convince Them That They’ve Been Fooled

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: 1

“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

Notes:

  1. Tweet, From: Joreth @Joreth, Time: 7:47 AM, Date: January 10, 2011, Text: It’s easier to fool ppl than… (Accessed on twitter.com on December 23, 2020) link

It Is Easier to Bamboozle People Than It Is To Unbamboozle Them

John Maynard Keynes? Norman Angell? Carter Field? Lionel Robbins? Malcolm W. Bingay? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: With time and effort it is possible to bamboozle people, i.e., to fool or mislead them. Unfortunately, this process of deception can be so thorough that it is impossible to debamboozle them, i.e., to convince them of the truth. I think the prominent economist John Maynard Keynes said something like this. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: John Maynard Keynes did employ an expression of this type, but he was specifically referring to the thoughts and actions of U.S. President Woodrow Wilson who was a participant in the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I.

World leaders met in the Palace of Versailles after Germany signed an armistice agreement. French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau, British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, and Wilson were the most powerful figures. Keynes believed that the demands placed upon Germany by the triumphant leaders were too onerous. He feared that Germany’s economy would collapse and harm all the countries in the region.

Initially, Wilson also believed that provisions in the Treaty of Versailles were too harsh. Yet, during the months of negotiation other leaders convinced Wilson to support the treaty. Keynes published in 1919 “The Economic Consequences of the Peace” which criticized the accord and included the following passage. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

To his horror, Mr. Lloyd George, desiring at the last moment all the moderation he dared, discovered that he could not in five days persuade the President of error in what it had taken five months to prove to him to be just and right. After all, it was harder to de-bamboozle this old Presbyterian than it had been to bamboozle him; for the former involved his belief in and respect for himself.

The terms to “debamboozle” and to “unbamboozle” have been used as synonyms. Also, both terms have been hyphenated sometimes: “de-bamboozle” and “un-bamboozle”.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Is Easier to Bamboozle People Than It Is To Unbamboozle Them

Notes:

  1. 1919, The Economic Consequences of the Peace by John Maynard Keynes, (Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge), Chapter 3: The Conference, Quote Page 50, Macmillan and Company, London. (Google Books Full View) link