The Churchillian Drift

We are suckers to smart sounding famous quotes that are fake

“BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD.” Gandhi.

It’s empowering when Gandhi reassured my insignificance could make a difference in this vast universe.

“WE HAVE TWO LIVES, AND THE SECOND BEGINS WHEN WE REALIZE WE ONLY HAVE ONE.” Confucius.

This woke me up, and I started to be able to sit cross-legged for more than 10 minutes.

Then …

“YOU TAKE THE RED PILL — YOU STAY IN WONDERLAND, AND I SHOW YOU HOW DEEP THE RABBIT HOLE GOES.” Morpheus

This quote looped in my head like a bad song when I realised Confucius and Gandhi did NOT say those quotes. There’s actually a term for this phenomenon- the “Churchillian Drift.” I found websites dedicated to investigating quotes.

Why do we tend to pay more attention to named quotes? Or does this tendency actually hurt?

To me it does, because I now know this behaviour is the result of a stew of cognitive biases, that I have been lazy in my thinking. I have missed and ignored gems and wisdom simply because they weren’t uttered by the Queen or Prince.

What should I do then? Well …

“THE DEFINITION OF INSANITY IS DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AND EXPECTING DIFFERENT RESULTS.”

I should stop overreacting to named quotes, and pay more attention to everything else. And nope, Einstein probably didn’t say that.

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