That quote from George Carlin…

If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.
–Warren Buffett

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
–John Lennon.

Friday, a friend posted the former-Beatle’s quote.  This morning, an old schoolteacher of mine posted this, by the Oracle of Omaha.  The trouble is, neither quote was ever actually said. Or, at least, I can find nothing online (and I can do a pretty exhaustive search folks, as one of the not-richest people in the world) that sources the quotes.

This is a pet peeve of mine, right up there with virus alerts and junk email from well-intentioned people.  John Lennon (and I admit it; I’m a fan) has said a lot of witty, thoughtful, even brilliant things.  So has Warren Buffett.  But from all accounts, these quotes are not two of them.

Why did I bother? Well, both quotes stank of deception.  “Past history?”  Really? I think someone as smart as Buffett would find a way not to be quite that redundant.  It’s a showstopper quote; one that makes you say “aww” or give you pause, or insult librarians.  The Lennon quote was just as bad.  I’m nerdy enough to know that John Lennon didn’t live with his mother when he was five, but with his Aunt Mimi and Uncle George. Again, a nice story, but not true.

Why do THEY bother? Who thinks of these things? Does someone gain notoriety by leeching Lennon’s (or Buffett’s) fame? They sit there grinning and nodding as yet another unsuspecting person posts his or her pithy (and too-good-to-be-true) quote? I think misattribution bothers me more than plagiarism, and for many of the same reasons. Nobody would take a Beatles quote and call it their own. Why would they invent a quote and say it belonged to the Beatles?

Who knows…

Maybe the whole point of this blog was to link you to Pop Culture Icon “Weird” Al Yankovic’s two brilliant (and original) songs “Virus Alert” and “Stop Forwarding that Crap to Me.”  He sings, “And by the way, your quotes from George Carlin aren’t really George Carlin; Mr. Rogers never fought the Vietcong.” This is another one I’ve seen throughout the last decade or so. I’m not indicting my friends. I am asking them to be careful, though. There are a lot of weirdos and posers and wannabes, and then there are people who say inspirational things. Sometimes they’re the same person; often they’re not. Too bad there’s not a databank for quotes, like provides for urban legends.


4 thoughts on “That quote from George Carlin…”

  1. So who is the ‘John Lennon’ quote actually attributed to? Don’t leave me hanging! But, seriously, I’m using his quote for a project and a link to the real person would be great. Google has sadly helped to no avail.


    1. Just reread what you wrote, you’re not sure of the real attributer, but like you said I can’t find it online either! Whoops, I read too fast.


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