George Bernard Shaw? Puck? Saxby’s Magazine? Elbert Hubbard? Confucius? Anonymous?

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Dear Quote Investigator: The complying with adage is the perfect antidote to extreme negativity and also obstructionism:

People who say it cannot be done must not interrupt those who are doing it.

You are watching: Those who say it can t be done

These words are often attributed to Oriental sage Confucius and also to the acasserted playwbest George Bernard Shaw; unfortunately, I have actually not been able to locate any type of solid data to back up this insurance claim. Would you please trace this quotation?

Quote Investigator: QI has uncovered no substantive assistance for the ascriptions to Confucius and Shaw.

QI hypothesizes that the modern-day expression progressed from a comment around the rapidity of adjust and also creation at the rotate of the century that was published in the humor magazine “Puck” in December 1902. Emphasis included to excerpts: 1

Things move along so promptly nowadays that civilization saying: “It can’t be done,” are always being interrupted by somebody doing it.

Multiple newspapers and also journals republished the renote in 1903. One circumstances showed up on March 7, 1903 in a periodical referred to as “The Public” based in Chicago, Illinois. An acknowledgment to the humor magazine “Puck” was appended: 2

Things relocate alengthy so swiftly nowadays that people saying: “It can’t be done,” are always being interrupted by somebody doing it.—Puck.

On March 13, 1903 an instance was published in “The Evansville Courier” of Evansville, Indiana via an acknowledgement to “Saxby’s Magazine”. The statements above and listed below were both printed as filler items without added contextual information: 3

Some philosopher takes time to remark that points move along so swiftly nowadays that human being that say “It can’t be done,” are always being interrupted by somebody doing it.—Saxby’s Magazine.

In April 1903 a journal for educators and also parents dubbed “Kindergarten Magazine” published an circumstances that precisely matched the statement in “The Public”. The “Puck” acknowledgement was included: 4

Throughout the following decades the expression was reshaped. In 1914 a charismatic aphorism constructor called Elbert Hubbard printed a variant in his journal “The Philistine”, but he disdeclared authorship. By 1962 a pseudo Confucian variation had actually been fabricated, and also by 2004 a variation attributed to George Bernard Shaw was circulating.

Additional citations in chronological order are provided listed below.

In 1911 the “Aberdeen Daily American” newspaper of Aberdeen, South Dakota described the saying without attribution: 5

Anymethod, people that say a thing can’t be done are interrupted by someone else doing it. So do not be one to say “I can’t.”

In May 1914 Elbert Hubbard publimelted an post discussing civilization explorers in the journal he edited called “The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest”. The following variant of the saying differed from many type of instances because the opportunity of accomplishing the complicated task was not denied. Instead, plans were being formulated before an interruption occurred: 6

Some one has shelp that we are moving so fast that as soon as plans are being made to percreate some good feat, these plans are broken right into by a youth that enters and says, “I have done it.”

The locution “Some one has actually said” used over signaled that Hubbard was not taking crmodify for the renote. Nonetheless, instances were regularly attributed to him. For instance, in 1915 an advertisement published in “The Democrat-Forum” newspaper of Maryville, Missouri credited Hubbard: 7

The civilization is relocating so quick now-a-days that the guy that says it cannot be done is mostly interrupted by someone else doing it.—Elbert Hubbard.

In 1924 “The Washington Post” printed a concise version of the adage without attribution: 8

This calls to mind that famous Amerideserve to saying that “The male that claims it can’t be done is constantly being interrupted by somebody doing it.”

In 1940 the students at Sul Ross State Teachers College publiburned a miscellaneous set of sayings that consisted of the following instance without ascription: 9

The guy who starts to say it can’t be done is often interrupted by somebody else doing it.

The linkage to Hubbard was not forobtained. In 1949 the productive compiler Evan Esar had the adhering to remark credited to Hubbard in “The Thesaurus of Humorous Quotations”: 10

The human being is moving so fast these days that the guy that says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.

In 1962 a periodical around adult education and learning titled “Adult Leadership” printed an expression making use of the design template “Confucius say: Man who. . .”. This format has often been supplied for jokes and witticisms unlinked to the genuine sayings of Confucius. This instance offered the phrase “need to not interrupt” which showed up in the modern-day saying under investigation: 11

THOUGHTS WHILE SHAVING:Confucius say: Man that say it cannot be done, have to not interrupt guy doing it. . . How’s that for an excellent adult education and learning motto? Aren’t tbelow several times that motto have the right to be used?

In 1974 a letter from supporters of solar energy was included in the published document of a UNITED STATE Senate Hearing. The adage was ascribed to Confucius: 12

Corporate leaders and many type of researchers say, “According to the present ‘state of the art,’ Solar Energy is very imhelpful at this time.”

Confucius say, “Man that states it cannot be done must not interrupt male doing it.”

In 1977 “The Marietta Daily Journal” of Marietta, Georgia labeled the renote an “old Chinese proverb”: 13

There is an old Chinese proverb that says, “Man who say it cannot be done have to not interrupt man doing it.”

In 1996 a humorous variation contrasted the actions of a guy and a woman: 14

A copy of a Chinese proverb hangs on the door: “Man who states it cannot be done have to not interrupt womale doing it.”

By 2004 an circumstances had been reassigned to the famous Irish playwideal George Bernard Shaw in a background book around the Smithsonian: 15

Shaw was likewise a master at crystallizing great thoughts through pointed expressions such as:

“Youth is wasted on the young.”

“When a guy states money can execute anypoint, that settles it. He hasn’t obtained any kind of.”

“People that say it cannot be done must not interrupt those who are doing it.”

In conclusion, the earliest variation of this saying recognized to QI showed up in December 1902 in “Puck” magazine without attribution. The statement advanced over time. A version through the expression “have to not interrupt” remained in circulation by 1962. It was presented as a item of ersatz Confucian wisdom. The author of this reformulation is unspecific. The later linkage to George Bernard Shaw is spurious.

Image Notes: Picture of flying pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wideal via the Wideal Flyer in 1903 derived via Wikimedia Commons and UNITED STATE Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs department. Image has been cropped and resized.

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(Thanks to the journalist who on June 12, 2018 situated the page of “Puck” containing the nascent quotation. Thanks to researcher Barry Popik for his expedition of this topic through an initial citation in 1985. Thanks additionally to the volunteer editors of Wikiquote. Great thanks to Nicholas Rezmerski whose query led QI to formulate this question and perform this expedition.)

Upday History: On June 14, 2018 a direct citation for “Puck” magazine dated December 24, 1902 was added to the write-up. Previously, the earliest citation presented in this post was dated March 7, 1903. “Puck” was identified in the 1903 citation.