fake quotes

Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything. – Plato
This quote is given at the very start of Living in Worlds of Music by Minette Mans, Springer 2009. The first words of the book are “Plato, not usually described as a very musical man, manages to capture in his statement above the complexity of music in the many ways that it reaches into and around us.” Amazingly incompetent. Ah well, this quote appears on thousands of music-related sites online. Still, rather embarrassing that such an academic book, filled with references, academic jargon, and presumably read by a few academics in the field, as well as some people at Springer, was allowed to start with this total clanger. (It sounds nothing like Plato, and is from the 19th C apparently.)


The wikipedia page on Burke says (May 2016, until I changed it) rather hilariously:

False quotations[edit]
The statement that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” is often falsely attributed to Burke; this he never said.[167][168] In 1770, however, in Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents, Burke wrote that:

…when bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.[169][170]

John Stuart Mill later made a similar statement in an inaugural address delivered before the University of St. Andrews during 1867:

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.[171]

The source of this idea is Plato who wrote “The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”[172]

Burke is also sometimes credited with George Santayana’s quote: “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. His attribution for this statement similarly cannot be corroborated by reliable sources.[173]

That doesn’t sound like Plato to me.. so I looked at the link – amazingly, to the Endless Greece Travel Guide ! On their Plato page, they give as Plato quotes:

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
“Never discourage anyone…who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
“Necessity, who is the mother of invention.”

My first guess is that 0/5 are Plato, but I dunno. Stay tuned.


This Mozart quote is apparently fake: (thank goodness)

My ideas come as they will, I don’t know how, all in a stream. If I like them I keep them in my head, & people say that I often hum them over to myself. Well, if I can hold on to them, they begin to join on to one another, as if they were bits that a pastry-cook should join together in his pantry. And now my soul gets heated, & if nothing disturbs me the piece grows larger & brighter until, however long it is, it is all finished together in my mind, so that I can see it at a glance, as if it were a pretty picture or a pleasing person. Then I don’t hear the notes one after another, as they are hereafter to be played, but it is as if in my fancy they were all at once. And that is a blast. While I’m inventing, it all seems to me like a fine vivid dream; but that hearing it all at once (when the invention is done), that’s the best. What I once so heard I don’t forget again, & perhaps this is the best gift that God has granted me. – Mozart

It appears e.g. on http://greatquotesonlifeandart.blogspot.com.au/ (yeah sorry, that’s my site.)


2017 update: Sadly for this page, I never read my facebook news feed any more, so..I almost never come across fake quotes. Oh well..maybe one day.


Came across this embarrassing one online, which seems to be quite widespread:

‘The naked woman’s body is a portion of eternity too great for the eye of man.’ – William Blake

It seems to be based on this part of Proverbs of Hell:

The nakedness of woman is the work of God.
Excess of sorrow laughs. Excess of joy weeps.
The roaring of lions, the howling of wolves, the raging of the stormy sea, and the destructive sword, are portions of eternity too great for the eye of man.


greatquotesonlifeandart has this one:

You make a living by what you get; you make a life by what you give. – Winston Churchill

but wikiquote says:
Variant: We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.
Extensive research of writings by and about Churchill at the Churchill Centre fails to indicate that Churchill ever spoke or wrote those words.
Some sites list Norman MacEwen as the originator of the quote.

Actually, wikiquote is a great source for fake quotes. Some more fake Churchill:

Lady Nancy Astor: If I were your wife I’d put poison in your coffee.
Churchill: If I were your husband I’d drink it.

George Bernard Shaw is said to have told W.S.C.:
Am reserving two tickets for you for my premiere. Come and bring a friend—if you have one.
W.S.C. to G.B.S.:
Impossible to be present for the first performance. Will attend the second—if there is one.

This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put./This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.

Bessie Braddock: Winston, you are drunk, and what’s more you are disgustingly drunk.
Churchill: Bessie, 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. (probably fake)

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.

If you’re going through hell, keep going.

Americans Will Always Do the Right Thing — After Exhausting All the Alternatives.

fake Einstein:

If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?

fake quote sites

all the fake buddha quotes at fakebuddhaquotes.com

quote investigator

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