Did American humorist Mark Twain say that "No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot"? No, that's not true: It is a made-up quote attributed to Twain, whose is rightfully credited with many quotable wise observations. This quote cannot be found in any recognized archives of Twain's writings or public statements.
This fake Twain quote has circulated for years online, perhaps because it is so useful for ending social media arguments at a stand off. This post (archived here) published was a meme on August 3, 2019. It read:
No amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot -- Mark Twain
This is what social media users saw:
Lead Stories searched and searched for an authorative, authentic version of this quote and we could not find one. It does not exist on the "Mark Twain Quotations, Newspaper Collections, & Related Resources" -- which may be the most extensive and scholarly collection of Twain quotes online. Searching keywords, such as "evidence," revealed only this quote:
It was not my opinion; I think there is no sense in forming an opinion when there is no evidence to form it on. If you build a person without any bones in him he may look fair enough to the eye, but he will be limber and cannot stand up; and I consider that evidence is the bones of an opinion.
- Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc
We found this verfied Twain quote that makes the same point but with many more words:
In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
- Autobiographical dictation, 10 July 1908. Published in Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 3 (University of California Press, 2015)
An Australian fact checker also researched the quote and declared it fake:
The Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut was the author's home from 1874 to 1891 and among its educational aims today is to assist in the teaching of Twain's "life and works".
A museum spokeswoman told AAP FactCheck that its curatorial staff found "no trace" online which supported attribution of the quote to Twain "other than in the usual inspirational or business works".
Since -- as Mark Twain never said -- no amount of evidence will ever persuade an idiot, we will stop here.