Today, I present to the world (historians take note) The Einstein Quotation Heuristic:
Assume any quotation attributed to Albert Einstein to be spurious unless a verifiable source is cited.
A few weeks ago, I was reading a thread on a mediation site and came across a post with a long quotation, supposedly written by Einstein to his daughter Lieserl. I won’t copy the entire text, but this will give you the flavor:
“There is an extremely powerful force that, so far, science has not found a formal explanation to. It is a force that includes and governs all others, and is even behind any phenomenon operating in the universe and has not yet been identified by us. This universal force is LOVE.
When scientists looked for a unified theory of the universe they forgot the most powerful unseen force. Love is Light, that enlightens those who give and receive it. Love is gravity, because it makes some people feel attracted to others. Love is power, because it multiplies the best we have, and allows humanity not to be extinguished in their blind selfishness.
Love unfolds and reveals. For love we live and die. Love is God and God is Love”
The letter, of course, is a complete hoax. What depresses me most about this is that the only thing that people seem to know about Einstein is that he was a really smart guy. Thus, they are anxious to have him endorse some already held belief. Paradoxically, when you point out that these are not Einsteins words, they assert that it doesn’t really matter because the sentiments are true. One wonders, why, if the sentiments were so compelling, someone felt they had to attribute them to Einstein?
Wouldn’t it be great if we took the time to read great thinkers, like Einstein, instead of reducing them to superficial, and often false, quotations?