Fake Quotes!

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Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
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Fake Quotes!

Post by Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:19 pm

I made a post a while back in which I talked about the topic of whether Hitler was or was not a socialist. I pointed out that this quote was frequently ascribed to him on the internet:

"We are Socialists, enemies, mortal enemies of the present capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, with its injustice in wages, with its immoral evaluation of individuals according to wealth and money instead of responsibility and achievement, and we are determined under all circumstances to abolish this system!"

However, this quote was not a quote of Hitler. Rather, it was a quote of Gregor Strasser, Hitler's rival within the Nazi Party.

This is relevant because this post will be about fake quotes. By that I mean quotes misattributed to the person who did not say them, or else fabricated entirely.

Let's take this one:

"Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able, and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?" - Epicurus

This quote has been used many times by Atheists in debates with theists. The paradox of why an all-loving, all-powerful has been called the Epicurean paradox. However, the problem is, Epicurus probably never actually said it.

This quote was attributed to Epicurus by Lactantius, an early Christian writer. However, no writings still remaining of Epicurus contain this argument, and he probably never actually said it.

This is first of all shown by the fact that it refers to one singular God. Epicurus lived in ancient Greece, where polytheism was dominant, and monotheism wasn't really heard of.

Secondly, Epicurus wasn't an atheist. He did believe in Gods, however, these Gods were neither willing nor able to prevent evil as they had already reached a perfect state of ataraxia (peace and freedom from pain) to which all humans should aspire to achieve.

Now, let's take a quote attributed to another brilliant philosopher:

"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire

This saying is a brilliant one, that is the archetype of a civilised society founded on the ideals of freedom of speech, such as Great Britain. However, Voltaire didn't say it! It was actually said by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, an English writer, who wrote it as a summary of Voltaire's beliefs.

Let's take another quote that many people attribute to our French friend:

"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." - Voltaire

This quote is most frequently used by basement-dwelling Neo-Nazis who use it to imply that the Jews rule over the world as it is considered rude to criticize them. What the skinhead scum who use this quote fail to realize is that most people would object to anyone criticizing an entire group of people, and the same logic could be used to imply that any religion or ethnic group runs the world. Furthermore, it could be used to prove cancer patients, starving children in third world countries, somebody's dead relatives, etc. run the world.

It is a very stupid quote when one thinks about it, and that is probably why Voltaire wasn't stupid enough to say it. It was actually a Neo-Nazi, Kevin Alfred Strom who said it in the first place.

There is a story about Winston Churchill, that an MP accused him of being "disgustingly drunk", and he replied hilariously "My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly." There is debate over whether he actually said this, yet it still appears at the top of many polls for history's best insults.

What Winnie certainly didn't say, however, is "If You're Not A Liberal When You're 25, You Have No Heart. If You're Not A Conservative By The Time You're 35, You Have No Brain". It sounds like something the Conservative former-Liberal might have said. But nevertheless, there is no record of him having said it. Furthermore, as Paul Addison of Edinburgh University pointed out "Surely Churchill can’t have used the words attributed to him. He’d been a Conservative at 15 and a Liberal at 35!"

Similarly, "Teddy Roosevelt" wrote:

"To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth."

But there is no evidence that TR ever said this. In fact, it wouldn't make sense for him to have said this, as the term "liberal" as in to mean somebody with ideological views similar to that of the modern-day USA Democrats wouldn't have made sense at that time. Furthermore, TR was a Progressive, with views to the left of most of today's liberals.

The quote has also been attributed to conservative political commentator Rush Limbaugh, which is more believable, but there's no evidence that he ever said it either.

So there you have it. Some very good reasons I think to always, always make sure to check the authenticity of a quote before you believe somebody famous said it. As Malala Yousafzai quite rightly put it, "Don't assume I said something just because somebody told you I did."
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Nov 06, 2017 11:14 pm

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:19 pm
This is first of all shown by the fact that it refers to one singular God. Epicurus lived in ancient Greece, where polytheism was dominant, and monotheism wasn't really heard of.
Quotes like these are translated not only in language but also cultural context. Same is true for Euthyphro, for example, where Gods => God, and piety => morally good.

When a quote is removed from context by hundreds or thousands of years, considering translation beyond the literal and incorporating cultural differences is probably wise to convey its original intent better.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:19 pm
Secondly, Epicurus wasn't an atheist. He did believe in Gods, however, these Gods were neither willing nor able to prevent evil as they had already reached a perfect state of ataraxia (peace and freedom from pain) to which all humans should aspire to achieve.
He was functionally an atheist (neither worshiped nor cared about the gods, just assumed they existed in his dialogue but didn't matter), and argued against the mainstream of theism, so this kind of argument would have been useful to him particularly given his beliefs about pain and suffering. It sounds like he was talking about the idea of present and intervening deities.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:19 pm
"I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it." - Voltaire
[...]It was actually said by Evelyn Beatrice Hall, an English writer, who wrote it as a summary of Voltaire's beliefs.
Interesting!
Too bad he didn't say it, although it's not too terrible a mistake if it summarizes his believes and he might not have minded.

The worst misquotes are those at odds with the beliefs of the ones they're being attributed to.
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz wrote:
Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:19 pm
"To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize." - Voltaire
[...]It is a very stupid quote when one thinks about it, and that is probably why Voltaire wasn't stupid enough to say it. It was actually a Neo-Nazi, Kevin Alfred Strom who said it in the first place.
Yikes! Any idea how this got around?

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Post by Red » Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:08 pm

Theodore Roosevelt never wrote:A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.
I can't find evidence that he actually said that, but I'd be amazed if he did.
Learning never exhausts the mind.
-Leonardo da Vinci

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Post by cornivore » Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:33 am

Image
Einstein is said to be misquoted often, among others . . .
There is a tradition of attributing poetry to Omar Khayyam . . . There are occasional quotes of verses attributed to Omar in texts attributed to authors of the 13th and 14th centuries, but these are also of doubtful authenticity, so that skeptic scholars point out that the entire tradition may be pseudepigraphic
Khayyam was hugely respected in his own time as a mathematician: some of his ideas on geometry underpin Albert Einstein's theory of relativity.—The Secret Life of Space

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