Compound Quote or Compounded Misquote? February 17, 2008Posted by Matsu in News and politics, Random, Web.
For all of the misinformation found on the Internet I can’t help but appreciate the ease at which I can either verify or dismiss a quote by doing a quick search using the web. (Notice I did not use Google as either a verb or a noun – see previous post for explanation.)
My latest search for the truth was about a quote I heard on TV. Yup, TV’s not aways the best source of truth, but that’s where this tale begins.
I heard a TV reporter talking about the importance of personal savings and he made the statement that Albert Einstein said compound interest was one of the greatest human inventions. When I heard it I immediately wondered if there was any truth to that quote. So, I turned to one of my favorite protectors of truth and debunkers of myth, Snopes.com. According to this snopes.com article, there is no record of Einstein ever making a statement about compound interest.
Further research on the Internet turned up this website that thoroughly dissects the quote attributed to Einstein and details reasons that it is totally unlikely that he said anything about compound interest.
One of the strongest arguments that Einstein never said anything about compound interest was the term first appeared in print about 30 years after his death. So, if Einstein had said it, he would have been the founder/creator of that phrase. Such a unique statement would have been documented in his own writings or by reporters of the day.
It turns out that according to this blogger, even the Albert Einstein Institute says that Einstein never said anything about compound interest. It also seems that there are as many versions of this quote as there are people misquoting Einstein.
Of course, whether or not Einstein said that compound interest was the best human invention the truth is that it can be the friend to an investor and the bane of a borrower (just ask someone who has a mortgage and looked at the total cost they will pay by the end of the mortgage). For proof of the power of compound interest, check out this Wikipedia page that explains the Rule of 72.