I fear the day…

I’d like to begin with a quote:

I fear the day when the ability to share fake Albert Einstein quotes on Facebook surpasses our ability to stop and think first. The world will have a generation of idiots.

Yes, I think it probably has already happened. See, as Abraham Lincoln famously said in 1864:

The problem with quotes on the internet is that you can’t always depend on their accuracy.

But that doesn’t stop people for blindly forwarding this stuff around. The Trevor Mallach letter – recently resurrected ahead of the April elections – is a good example. If it loosely fits their agenda or feelings, the button is clicked and they – in this case, at least – unwittingly become a demonstration of their own concerns.

Of course, Albert Einstein didn’t ever say:

I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.

Sometimes there are subtle variations (e.g. “overlap” instead of “surpass”), but as QuoteInvestigator suggests:

Albert Einstein did not write or say any of the three variant quotations. Individuals who were aggravated by the behavior patterns of cell phone users probably facilitated the construction, evolution, and dissemination of this meme. The efforts of the creators have been successful for now. The basic saying has achieved viral status with its dubious ascription.

There’s no real point to this post. I’m not expecting to change the habits of the average internet user by telling people that they’re being foolish in sharing a fake quotation. It’s more the feeling (much like the Trevor Mallach thing) that I’m almost being complicit in their spreading of falsehoods if I don’t say something. Oh, and the fact that people are sharing it from davidicke dot com, which no-one should ever share anything from.

Anyway, the take home message is that the supposed Albert Einstein quote is actually a fake Albert Einstein quote and that the world would probably be a much better place if people didn’t forward fake Albert Einstein quotes around.

Do your bit.

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