Who Said That?
Do you ever question whether or not a quote attributed to someone famous is actually a quote from that person at all? I do ALL the time. I always love to dig deeper to discover the truth. When I point out the likelihood that the quote was not said by that particular person, the response is usually indifference. First impressions are lasting. Sometimes people will say: “It doesn’t matter who said it. The idea is still true!” However, the attributed quote makes its way to the screens of many to become a truth to the masses because of the “celebrity endorsement”. However, and as futile as it may be, I rebut the comment with “If it didn’t matter who said it, then why does the meme use a picture of that celebrity?”
Harmless Fun or Dangerous?
Some of those falsehoods are harmless fun and provide some comic relief, which I do enjoy, but the harmless fun can lead one down a “slippery slope”. Garson O’Toole, author of Hemingway Didn’t Say That, is also known as the Quote Investigator. Garson investigates quotes randomly assigned to famous people, or “hosts” as he calls them, as well as some “quotes” that are outright fabrications whether intention or accidental. As George Washington once never said: “I cannot tell a lie.”
Again, I believe people use this technique to lend “weight” or “credibility” to the meme. If Bill Gates said it, it must be true. (He didn’t say it.) Again, the indifference that people show is dangerous. Dr. Steve Kelman of Harvard University says “…I am reminded of the famous statement by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels that if you repeat a lie often enough [sic] it becomes the truth.” Joseph Goebbels was the Minister of Propaganda for the German Third Reich. I guess you could say he was the head of marketing for Hitler and the Nazi party. According to a short video (3:06) shown by Encyclopedia Britannica, Goebbels relies on the “mass effect of modern media”.
Memes that fraudulently attribute false quotes to people or organizations can also be hurtful to those people, companies, and brands. If enough people believe the meme without questioning its reliability, then that falsehood becomes truth for many people. When these falsehoods are perpetuated and become viral, they could have damaging effects on the mental health of an individual or cause financial hardships for individuals and companies.
Find Reputable Resources
I always explain to my students the importance of finding at least three reliable sources to support a claim or argument before putting the information into an assignment. I like to use websites such as snopes.com and factcheck.org to determine whether the content that I am reading has validity. I think it is important to create ambassadors for the pursuit of truth. As Voltaire once said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Or did he? There’s a sucker born every minute. Does truth in marketing really matter or do the ends justify the means? What do you think?
Bonus Material: Deep Fakes
Should we be worried? Where is technology taking us? Check out this intriguing but scary video: Everyone Can Make Deepfakes Now!
Social Media Promotion:
Facebook: Are you sure Abraham Lincoln said that? Please read my newest blog to expose the truth about quotes in memes. https://bit.ly/3xDZsDD
Twitter: Are quotes in memes attributed to the wrong people dangerous? Please read my latest blog and add your thoughts. #fakememes #fakequotes #deepfakes https://bit.ly/3xDZsDD
Cain, A. 9 quotes that famous people didn’t actually say. (2018, April 15)
Heiber, H. Joseph Goebbels: German Propagandist. (Last Updated: 2021, April 27)
Kelman, Dr. S. Goebbels says repeat a lie often enough and people will believe it. (2020, May 15)
O’Toole, G. Hemingway Didn’t Say That. (Accessed 2021, August 9) Retrieved from
These Bill Cates ideas should be posted in all schools and workplaces. (2017, October 18)
Watch Adolf Hitler’s campaign for chancellor and Joseph Goebbels’s role in promoting his propaganda and terror. (Accessed 2021, August 9) Retrieved from
Zsolnai-Fehér, K. Everyone Can Make Deepfakes Now. (Accessed 2021, August 9) Retrieved from