Fake News: Mark Twain NEVER Said 'No Amount Of Evidence Will Ever Persuade An Idiot'

Fact Check

  • by: Alan Duke
Fake News: Mark Twain NEVER Said 'No Amount Of Evidence Will Ever Persuade An Idiot'

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.

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  Alan Duke

Editor-in-Chief Alan Duke co-founded Lead Stories after ending a 26-year career with CNN, where he mainly covered entertainment, current affairs and politics. Duke closely covered domestic terrorism cases for CNN, including the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, the UNABOMBER and search for Southeast bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. CNN moved Duke to Los Angeles in 2009 to cover the entertainment beat. Duke also co-hosted a daily podcast with former HLN host Nancy Grace, "Crime Stories with Nancy Grace" and hosted the podcast series "Stan Lee's World: His Real Life Battle with Heroes & Villains." You'll also see Duke in many news documentaries, including on the Reelz channel, CNN and HLN.

Read more about or contact Alan Duke

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