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Einstein’s Folly

Posted on March 12, 2011 | 0 comments

I’ve made an observation of the world that I’d like to call “Einstein’s Folly”. Albert Einstein was arguably the smartest living man in the last 100 years. I don’t by any means question his genius. But I’ve noticed that he is falsely attributed with a number of quotable words that he never actually said.

For instance just in the last month I’ve heard someone say “Albert Einstein said ‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'” I’ve also heard someone say “Albert Einstein said ‘The only constant is change.'” A Greek Philosopher named Heraclitus came up with that one and the insanity quote was delivered by Narcotics Anonymous Rita Mae Brown. The problem is no one knows who Rita Mae Brown is and Heraclitus is quickly being forgotten. With Biblical literacy dropping at an all time rate I expect we will soon see people saying “Albert Einstein said ‘If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.'” Shakespeare probably has his wisdom stolen more often than anyone but fortunately for him Albert Einstein said “Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

Einstein’s Folly works like this:

The more well-known a quote, the less likely that quote will be attributed to its original author, in turn the more likely that quote will be attributed to Albert Einstein.

Here’s my advice; next time you hear some one say “Albert Einstein said. . . ” just assume that Albert Einstein didn’t actually say it. Don’t bother doing an internet search because you don’t have to be an Einstein to set up a website that tells people that Albert Einsten said “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” Just do a quick translation. “Albert Einstein” means “someone smart but I don’t know who.”

I’m thinking of using Einstein’s Folly to my advantage.  Any time I come up with something clever, I’m going to tell people that I got it from Albert Einstein just to help it gain popularity. So when you start hearing people say “Albert Einstein said, ‘Puns are like wine, they’re great unless they’re cheap or overused,'”  you’ll know how brilliant I really am.

Of course Einstein’s Folly is not really Einstein’s fault. But since it is all about people falsely giving Einstein credit for things he didn’t say, it’s only right for it to be named after him. After all Albert Einstein once said, “When you’re known for being intelligent, people give you credit for everything.”

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