18. “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.”
GEORGE CARLIN DID NOT say this.
“Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large numbers.”
(or “…in large groups”)
George Carlin had plenty of material on the topic of human stupidity. However, this quote doesn’t show up on any of his albums, books, or HBO specials. On top of that, the quote does appear in other writings that existed before he really started writing about the topic.
It’s hard to say who really coined the phrase. I’ve seen some other sources attribute it to Mark Twain, but I can’t find a source of where and when he might have said it. I found a book published in 1991, “Maury County remembers World War II , Volume 2” which has “Never underestimate the power of stupid people in a group”. Searching a little more, I found the quote “Never underestimate the power of human stupidity” in Robert A. Heinlein’s “Time Enough for Love”, published in 1973 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons publishing. Regardless, there’s no evidence George Carlin said it.
If there’s a lesson to be learned from all of this, it’s that one shouldn’t underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups – particularly on the internet – to share false quotations about stupid people. Another tragic irony.