19 March 2015

Stop putting words in Einstein’s mouth!

One of the challenges of social media is that with the flick of a finger we can send to the world a link or a much-circulated post because one simply agreed with the message. One often gets so carried away that one does not stop to check the veracity of the words being forwarded. Sometimes one will even tag others even though those “others” are never mentioned in the post or in the picture πŸ™‚

Einstein never said that he is “afraid of the day technology will surpass human beings”. Putting words in his mouth might seemingly add weight to the message, but that does not change the fact there is absolutely no evidence of he ever saying that. The most authentic source of Einstein’s words that we are aware of is a collection maintained by Princeton University Press.

The post going around that I refer to is the one where you see Einstein’s picture and that quote unquote “quote” πŸ™‚ and then a picture of young kids on their phones.

So, that was the lie part.

Now the irony part.

You will notice that the youngsters never post posts that say “We are becoming dumb”. It is the parents, elder ones and allegedly wiser ones who feel that the next generation is becoming “dumber”. Or even their own generation that is taking to all these new fangled technologies with multi tasking etc etc. [It is a completely different point that they might be making their own point by forwarding posts that are patently untrue πŸ™‚ ]

However, the concern and disdain that we might have towards technology and modern style of communication changing us (younger and older generations) is no less than what our parents had for us. You probably recollect how our parents never understood how we could listen to music AND do homework at the same time. (multitasking? what is multitasking? πŸ™‚ )

Or what has happened for generations. Socrates and Plato were against written communication. They thought that this new technology will make future generations dumb because they would lose the faculty of memory.

Or when Samuel Morse (yes, he who invented the telegraph), as the lead in the Board of Western Union passed up on the opportunity to buy the patent to a new fangled things some guy called Alexander Graham Bell had invented because he thought future generations will become dumb if they used any communication without written record or proof.

So, let’s stop being cynical about newer tools and how new generations use them. Yes, there are side effects. None so dramatic as to make all future generations dumb. Human beings have their own way of adapting and adopting. This is how growth and progress looks from the inside. Over time, we learn to reject what does not work. No amount of Facebook post forwarding is going to influence that.

So, quit worrying. They will do fine. We will do fine.

Hang on now, as I research some links so that I can forward all of them to you with this post πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

[Disclaimer: If you are one of those that posted that Einstein thingy, don’t feel bad. There are too many of my friends that have done it for me to be able to single you out :-). Plus there is always the irony of critiquing FB posts thru a FB post πŸ™‚ ]

Posted March 19, 2015 by Rajib Roy in category "Musings


  1. By Bob Hart on

    The ‘Internet of Reality’ is the next release. Until then you’ll have to deal with, at a minimum, incorrect attributions..and probably a whole lot more πŸ™‚

  2. By Phil Burgess on

    Make it a habit to check what you see out….we are all being condition to “sound bite” analysis and beleiveing what we see rather than asking “why”. And a lot of unpleasant organsiations are using popularism to pendle their version of “the Truth”. So Question – otherwsie you will loose the ability to do so


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