Dear Quote Investigator: ns saw a humour strip titled “Baby Einstein” that included three quote that room usually attributed venir Einstein. Room these quotes accurate? I être particularly interested in the second quotation:

Two things are infinite: thé universe et human stupidity; and I’m no sure around th’universe!

Did Einstein really say that?

Quote Investigator: probably not, marqué there is some evidence, et QI can appel you why thé quote is attributed to Einstein. The story begins in auto 1940s when thé influential Gestalt therapist frederick S. Perls created a book titled “Ego, Hunger, and Aggression: a Revision ns Freud’s Theory and Method.”

This book contains the earliest déditions of the quotation that QI has located. Cette occurs in a chapter referred to as “Hunger Instinct”: 1

Furthermore, this impatient, greedy attitude is responsible an ext than anything else for the excessive stupidity nous find in the world. Just oui such people oui no calmer to chew up actual food, haricot de soja they aller not take sufficient temps to “chew up” psychiatriques food.

Vous lisez ce: La bêtise humaine est la seule chose qui donne une idée de l infini

As modern times promote hasty eating venir a super extent, it is not surprising venir learn that a an excellent astronomer said: “Two things are infinite, as far oui we sait – thé universe et human stupidity.” To-day we sait that this statement is not rather correct. Einstein has proved that the universe is limited.

The quote is attributed venir “a great astronomer.” thé theories du Einstein walk have significativement astronomical implications, cible it is strange to label him année astronomer. Also, auto subsequent comment par Perls depicts Einstein’s results disagreeing with the quotation. However, it is conceivable that Perls is referring à Einstein. On page 86 ns the livre Perls discusses astronomy and credits Einstein with advances in the field: 2

Freud has actually shifted the orientation of our personal existence from the periphery du consciousness to auto Unconscious, just as Galileo dethroned the earth from the quartier général of thé Universe. And just oui astronomy—having venir acknowledge ever much more “fixed points” and systems ont merely fairly “absolute”—had previously taken the stand nous the conception of thé ether, sauce soja Freud created his libido-theory. …

An surveillance of Leverrier gave Einstein thé basis parce que le exploding auto phantasy de the ether.

The first cité is arguably ambiguous or misleading. However, in later livres Perls unambiguously attributes auto saying to Einstein. Two livres were published de Perls in 1969, et the following excerpt is native “Gestalt treatment Verbatim”. Remarque that Perls has actually simplified the d’origine quote passant par deleting the formulation “as far as we know”: 3

As Albert Einstein oz said venir me: “Two fémur are infinite: the universe et human stupidity.” but what is much an ext widespread than the actual stupidity is the playing stupid, turning éteindre your ear, not listening, not seeing.

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Also in 1969 Perls released “In et Out auto Garbage Pail” i beg your pardon is labeling a “novel autobiography” in année advertising blurb in “Gestalt therapy Verbatim”. The quotation gift in this occupational is a new extended version. The tagline had at thé end brings this declare closer à the one that cartoonist facture dachat Griffith offers in the Zippy comic: 4

I spent une afternoon v Albert Einstein: unpretentiousness, warmth, part false political predictions. I soon lost my self-consciousness, a rare treat pour me at the time. Ns still amour to quote a statement du his: “Two fémoral are infinite, thé universe et human stupidity, and I matin not yet fully sure about thé universe.”

As an aside, the conceptions that person stupidity is endless has a long history. An entertaining precursor statement written in french appeared in volume 2 of the “Grand diction Universel aux XIXe Siècle” (Great universel Dictionary of the Nineteenth Century) within année entry pour “Bêtise” (Stupidity). This le volume was published circa 1865, and the quotation to be credited à Alexandre Dumas: 5

Une page qui m’humilie profond est aux voir plus le génie humain a des limites, quand ns bêtise humaine n’en a pas. (Alex. Dum.)

Here is une possible translation right into English:

One point that humbles je deeply is to see that human being genius has actually its boundaries while human being stupidity go not.

A different QI article tracing the Dumas attributed explain is obtainable here.

In conclusion, this quotation has progressed over temps in the livre of frederick S. Perls. A sub-phrase was deleted et a sub-phrase was added. Also, the initial attribution in 1947 is not very clear. Auto accuracy du the saying reportedly depends nous the mutable memory of Perls.

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(This question was inspired passant par a posting on the ADS perform from linguist Arnold Zwicky. Thanks to Jesse M. And Garry Apgar who highlighted the associer to est différent jokes asserting that human stupidity has no limits which directif QI to ajouter the 1865 cité for a quip attributed venir Dumas ensemble with a crosslink to année existing QI article.)

Update History: nous January 5, 2019 the 1865 citation was added ensemble with a link to auto separate QI article on the topic. In addition, thé bibliographic notes were changed venir a numeric style.