The Apocryphal Twain: “Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

A new installment of Matt Seybold’s “Apocryphal Twain” series focuses on an aphorism often attribued to Mark Twain and George Carlin, but with actual orgins in midcentury cinema.

The Apocryphal Twain: “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.”

An anti-democratic dismissal circulates during election season, falsely attributed to Mark Twain. Where did it actually come from?

The Apocryphal Twain: Ron Chernow’s Encomium to The American Press At White House Correspondents Dinner Ends On A False Note

Ron Chernow ended his White House Correspondents Dinner speech with a quote by Mark Twain. Cool, cool. It’s a solid formula. We just wish he’d quoted something Twain actually said.

The Apocryphal Twain: “Politicians are like diapers.”

There is perhaps no greater testament to Twain’s lasting reputation than the habitual misattribution of miscellaneous wit and wisdom to his name. The circulation of such apocryphal aphorisms was common enough in the 20th century. It has only increased with the popularization of digital media. The most common question addressed to the Center for Mark Twain Studies is some variety of “Did he really say that?” Whenever possible, we track […]

The Apocryphal Twain: Tom Wolfe Memorial Edition

Mark Twain is frequently treated as a precursor to the New Journalists who rose to prominence in midcentury America, writers like Joan Didion, Norman Mailer, Hunter S. Thompson, and Tom Wolfe, who died yesterday. Like many of them, Twain began his career as a conventional reporter (insofar as there was any such convention in the 1860s) and developed a habit of inserting himself into his stories, so much so that […]

The Apocryphal Twain: “If you don’t read the newspaper, you’re uninformed. If you do, you’re misinformed.”

There is perhaps no greater testament to Twain’s lasting reputation than the habitual misattribution of miscellaneous wit and wisdom to his name. The circulation of such apocryphal aphorisms was common enough in the 20th century. It has only increased with the popularization of digital media. The most common question addressed to the Center for Mark Twain Studies is some variety of “Did he really say that?” Whenever possible, we track […]

The Apocryphal Twain: “I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”

As we near the end of fall term, the days get shorter, the mornings get colder, and students, teachers, and parents alike get increasingly agitated. Under such conditions, the problems of our schools, real and imagined, are magnified and exaggerated. November is a ripe season for anti-intellectualism and dozens of Tweeters turn every day to one of the most enduring apocryphal aphorisms of America’s leading iconoclast: I have never let […]

The Apocryphal Twain: Golf is a good walk spoiled.

Malcolm Gladwell began the second season of his Revisionist History podcast with an episode about the public subsidization of expensive private golf clubs. He called the episode “A Good Walk Spoiled,” but wisely refrained from attributing that now ubiquitous phrase to any particular source. Many have not shown the same restraint. “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”–Mark Twain — Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) September 23, 2013 Unlike many of the aphorisms which we’ve […]

The Apocryphal Twain: “Kindness is language the deaf can hear.”

There is perhaps no greater testament to Twain’s lasting reputation than the habitual misattribution of miscellaneous wit and wisdom to his name. The circulation of such apocryphal aphorisms was common enough in the 20th century. It has only increased with the popularization of digital media. The most common question addressed to the Center for Mark Twain Studies is some variety of “Did he really say that?” Whenever possible, we track […]