What Dr Seuss didn’t say

If you’ve been reading this blog for some time you’ll know that from time to time I get fascinated by online misquotes, which often go on to have a life of their own. As I’ve written before, the urinal trough in the gents’ toilets in Glasgow’s King Tut’s venue is engraved with a quote from the writer Hunter S Thompson that says:

The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.

He never said that. He did, however, write that the TV business is a cruel and shallow money trench where thieves and pimps etc etc etc. Swapping TV for music and adding “there’s also a negative side” is the work of someone on the internet. One of the upsides of transition is that I can now go for a wee in Tut’s without getting annoyed by this.

I found out about another one today, which I had previously thought was an old advertising slogan of some kind:

The people who mind don’t matter. The people who matter don’t mind.

Nope! The actual quote is this:

Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.

Multiple sites, including Good Housekeeping, have attributed it to Dr Seuss. You can buy it on cushions and framed prints on Etsy. But despite their claims that it’s in The Cat In The Hat, it isn’t. There’s no evidence that Dr Seuss ever said it.

Quote Investigator looked into it and found an early example in Punch magazine in 1855.

What is Matter?—Never mind.
What is Mind?—No matter.

And the TV show QI found a version of it in an engineering journal in 1938:

Mr. Davies himself admitted that it was highly controversial and open to criticism; but criticism concerned both mind and matter. “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind!”

The phrasing was used in the 1940s in some popular anecdotes about the seating arrangements at parties and turned up in various newspapers before being attributed to the US financier and philanthropist Bernard Baruch. But it appears to be one of those bits of anonymous wisdom that gets attached to various people in various places at various times. As Dr Seuss put it*:

Sometimes we just see
What we want to believe!

* You knew I’d to this. No he didn’t. I made it up.