February 13, 2018

“The definition of insanity...”

Albert Einstein - false insanity quote QCcom


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
       Albert Einstein (1879–1955)
       German-born theoretical physicist
       A saying that is commonly – and wrongly – attributed to Einstein
       As noted by quotation scholars like Fred Shapiro (in the Yale Book of Quotations), Garson O’Toole (on his Quote Investigator site), and Barry Popik (on his Big Apple language site), there’s no evidence that Einstein ever wrote or said any such thing. It’s a misattribution.              
       The line has also been wrongly attributed to Benjamin Franklin and George Bernard Shaw
       The current evidence suggests that the saying is of anonymous origin and was originally popularized through its use in narcotics and alcohol addiction pamphlets and literature in the early 1980s. During that decade it was used and further popularized by several famous writers and celebrities, such as author Rita Mae Brown (in her 1983 book Sudden Death) and EST guru Werner Erhard (who used a version of it in a 1986 interview).             
       By the 1990s, it was being credited it to Einstein. Since then, the erroneous attribution to Einstein is the one most often repeated in books and online posts. It’s quite popular in graphic memes posted on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. 
       The use and reuse of false and misattributed quotes is frustrating and annoying to nerds like me who care about the accuracy of information about quotations. To me, the definition of inanity is reposting the same false, misattributed quotes over and over again in social media.



“How can someone be busy and not accomplish anything? Well, that’s the passion paradox. If the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results, then passion is a form of mental retardation...The critical work that you want to do will require your deliberation and consideration. Not passion.”
Ryan Holiday
       American author, marketer, and media strategist
       In a 2017 article on Salon.com arguing that many people who follow the popular advice to find and pursue “your passion” often end up failing, because their “passion” is really just “self-absorption at the expense of reality.”

Josh Jonas


“Quantity itself is a quality, and it is a quality that is the missing ingredient in so many of the things that we want and that matter to us. Ted Williams was known to spend countless hours every day working to perfect his swing. A brilliant guitarist I know played scales every night in his room growing up until his fingers bled; I’m sure we all have many other examples. These guys were doing something repetitively expecting a different result; they were expecting to get better...Because doing something over and over is not the definition of insanity. It’s the description of pursuing mastery.”
Josh Jonas
       Associate Director at The Village Institute for Psychotherapy in Manhattan
       In a post on his “Life Lessons” website

Jill Stark


“If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, Australia’s war on drugs is madness in its purest form. ‘Just say no’ has been an abject failure. The law enforcement approach has not deterred users, nor has it made communities safer. It has only put lives at risk.”
       Jill Stark
       Australian author, journalist and human rights activist             
       An observation in her 2017 opinion piece on the Australian news and culture site SBS.com that seems to apply equally well to the “Drug War” in the U.S.

Harry Hurt III


“One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result. But what do you call it if you do the same thing over and over, and keep achieving different results? Is that sanity? And what do you call it when cancer kills a close friend and that hits you a whole lot harder than the fact that tens of thousands of people you don't know were killed in wars? Is that tough luck? Or just more of the same old life and death?”
Harry Hurt III
       American author and journalist              
       Lines from the opening paragraph of his interesting thought piece “Is Anybody Necessary? Dr. Ying and the Four Noble Truths,” in the New York Times, January 14, 2006

Bradley Tusk


“If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, then it’s clear we need a different approach to how we govern, how we make decisions, and how we evaluate the world. Even though the world, on the whole, offers people far more rights and resources than ever before, when every bad thing that happens anywhere is put in front of all of us every minute of the day, it’s hard to feel anything but insecure. When our leaders only react rather than set an agenda and follow through on it (including negotiating and compromising), things only get worse.”
       Bradley Tusk
       American businessman, political strategist, and writer
       Commenting on how the constant barrage of negative social media posts on sites like Twitter and Facebook hurts the American public and our country’s political process in his column on Observer.com

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