It's hard to make a man understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it - Researcher Quote (2023)

Upton Sinclair? Does H. L. Mencken? William Jennings Bryan? CEM Joad? Christopher Matthew? To Paul Krug? Anonymous?

Dear Dating Researcher:Financial incentives can affect a person's ability to receive criticism. Here are four versions of this idea:

  1. Never argue with a man whose job depends on a lack of trust.
  2. It's hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.
  3. It can be very difficult to understand when misunderstandings are essential to your paycheck.
  4. There's no use arguing with a man whose salary depends on not knowing the right answer.

I think whistleblower Upton Sinclair or grumpy HL Mencken used that phrase. could you trace it?

Quotation search engine:Upton Sinclair ran for Governor of California in the 1930s, and press coverage of him was not sympathetic. However, in 1934 some California newspapers carried portions of his next book on the ill-fated campaign entitled "I, Candidate for Governor, and How I Was Defeated." Added highlighting of passages fromQI:[1]1934 December 11 Oakland Tribune, Me, Candidate for Governor and How I Was Defeated by Upton Sinclair, quoted on page 19, column 3, Oakland, California. (newspapers_com)

He used to tell our audience:"It's hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it!"

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Additional citations are selected below in chronological order.

In 1893, a Lincoln, Nebraska, newspaper published a related statement by populist politician William Jennings Bryan:[2]1893 16. Juni, The Lincoln Weekly Call (Lincoln Evening Call), A Big Question: Bimetallism Defined by an Able Democrat: Congressman Bryan of Nebraska on Finance, Zitat Seite 7, Spalte 1, Lincoln, …keep reading

It is no use arguing with a man whose opinion is based on personal or financial interests;The only way to deal with it is to hit it.

In 1922, English author and later BBC personality C.E.M. Joad, published a relevant passage about two professions:[3]1922, Common-Sense Theology by CEM Joad, Chapter 3: The Life Force in Education, quoted on pages 131 and 132, T. Fisher Unwin, London. (Full HahtiTrust Showcase) link

Listen listen! These are trusts and monopolies.Doctors have a monopoly on medicine, just as ministers have a monopoly on God. You cannot get a minister to admit the arguments of an agnostic because his salary depends on the agnostic not contradicting him; and you cannot get an ordinary physician to examine psychoanalysis or auto-suggestion well, because their success would render them superfluous.All this is not a matter of vitality; it's a matter of bread and butter.

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In 1934, the Oakland Tribune of Oakland, California published an excerpt from a forthcoming book by Upton Sinclair containing the saying mentioned earlier in this article.

In 1949, the prolific quote collector Evan Esar included the statement in The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations, with an attribution to Sinclair:[4]1949, The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations edited by Evan Esar, section: Upton Sinclair, citation page 185, Doubleday, Garden City, New York. (Confirmed on paper in the Dorset 1989 reprint edition...keep reading

SINCLAIR, Upton, born 1878, American writer and social reformer.

It's hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

In 1969, Herbert V. Prochnow and Son, in A Treasury of Humorous Quotations for Speakers, Writers, and Home References, also attributed the remark to Sinclair.[5]1969, Treasure trove of humorous quotes for speakers, writers and home references by Herbert V. Prochnow and Herbert V. Prochnow Jr., Section: Wages, quote page 295, published by Harper & Row,.keep reading

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In 1989, journalist and television commentator Christopher Matthews published an example in Hardball: How Politics Is Played, Told by One Who Knows the Game. Matthews attributed to H. L. Mencken; Nevertheless,QII couldn't find any support for this task:[6]1989 (Copyright 1988), Hardball: How Politics Is Play, narrated by Christopher Matthews' One Who Knows the Game, Chapter 4: "Dance with the One Who Brought You In", quoted on page 86, Perennial...keep reading

As HL Mencken once warned,"Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced."Don't ask a plastic surgeon to compliment you on your youthful appearance.

A good lobbyist learns that his job depends on being needed. He doesn't stick around for old time's sake!

In 1995, noted economist Paul Krugman added an example very similar to Sinclair's in The Washington Monthly; However, Mencken received recognition. Also, the word "income" replaced "salary":[7]1995 October, The Washington Monthly, Vol. 27, Number 10, “What the public doesn't know can't hurt us,” by Paul Krugman, title page 8, citation page 12, Washington D.C. (ProQuest)

As H. L. Mencken once noted,It's hard to get a man to understand something when his income depends on his not understanding it.

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In 2001, Krugman used a version of the saying again, this time crediting Sinclair:[8]2001 October 14, New York Times, Reckonings: Harvest Of Lemons by Paul Krugman, quoted on page WK13, column 1, New York. (ProQuest)

Of course, I don't expect politicians and lobbyists to understand such arguments; As Upton Sinclair said:It's hard to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.

In conclusion, credit must be given to Upton Sinclair for the testimony he spoke and wrote in 1934. At present, the claim that H. L. Mencken made a similar point is unsubstantiated. William Jennings Bryan wrote a thematically related commentary in 1893.

(Thanks to Wilson Gray, Felix Kramer, and K, whose questions and comments prompted QI to ask this question and conduct this research. Also thanks to groundbreaking research by Ralph Keyes, Barry Popik, Fred Shapiro, and the volunteer editors of Wikiquote.)

references

references
↑1 1934 December 11 Oakland Tribune, Me, Candidate for Governor and How I Was Defeated by Upton Sinclair, quoted on page 19, column 3, Oakland, California. (newspapers_com)
↑2 1893 June 16, The Lincoln Weekly Call (Lincoln Evening Call), A Big Question: Bimetallism Defined by an Able Democrat: Congressman Bryan of Nebraska on Finance, quote page 7, column 1, Lincoln, Nebraska. (newspapers_com)
↑3 1922, Common-Sense Theology by CEM Joad, Chapter 3: The Life Force in Education, quoted on pages 131 and 132, T. Fisher Unwin, London. (Full HahtiTrust Showcase) link
↑4 1949, The Dictionary of Humorous Quotations edited by Evan Esar, section: Upton Sinclair, citation page 185, Doubleday, Garden City, New York. (Confirmed on paper in the Dorset Press reprint edition, New York, 1989)
↑5 1969, Herbert V. Prochnow and Herbert V. Prochnow Jr.'s Treasury of Humorous Quotes for Speakers, Writers, and Home References, Section: Salary, Citation Page 295, Published by Harper & Row, New York. (verified on paper)
↑6 1989 (Copyright 1988), Hardball: How Politics Is Play, Told by Christopher Matthews' One Who Knows the Game, Chapter 4: "Dance with the One Who Brought You In", Zitat Seite 86, Perennial Library, Harper & Row, New York. (Verified with varreduras)
↑7 1995 October, The Washington Monthly, Vol. 27, Number 10, “What the public doesn't know can't hurt us,” by Paul Krugman, title page 8, citation page 12, Washington D.C. (ProQuest)
↑8 2001 October 14, New York Times, Reckonings: Harvest Of Lemons by Paul Krugman, quoted on page WK13, column 1, New York. (ProQuest)
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