I’m so bummed.  It appears that a quote that I’ve loved for decades is a fraud…at least some think so. 

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

-Albert Einstein

Apparently, Einstein paraphrased or ‘adopted’ language that, at the source, seems attributed, first, to William Bruce Cameron. According to the “Quote Investigator”, Cameron authored a textbook in 1963 with the title “Informal Sociology:  A Casual Introduction to Sociological Thinking” and within it, sits this passage:

“It would be nice if all of the data which sociologists require could be enumerated because then we could run them through IBM machines and draw charts as the economists do. However, not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

My noodling got messier.  It seems Cameron himself may have blended two thoughts together, “borrowing” from, potentially, four other thinkers:  Hilliard Jason, Stephen Ross, Lord Platt and George Pickering.

Ruh-roh…that was my first thought.  My second thought?  I knew it!  There was no way Einstein was responsible for one of my all-time favorite quotes.  He was too smart and I’m too…you know, ME…a little dim and definitely not a scientific intellectual.

That quote?  It might’ve been the only pearl attributed to Einstein that I can grasp.  Not because he was lacking in brilliance…no, no…quite the contrary.  The brand of brilliance that I think of when I hear “Einstein” is of the untouchable variety.  Concepts and truths that I’ll admire…from afar, on the other side of a vast intellectual void that separates great minds from my simpler mind. 😉

No, I’m not trolling for a compliment.  I’m just speaking the truth.  I don’t have the bandwidth or capacity to grasp even a smidgen of Albert’s intellect.  Maybe folks who are more science-oriented can connect – approaching status that might be peer-like. In the same gray matter ethos. Not me.  I’ll be the one in the stands with pom pons…expressing gratitude with enthusiasm…borne of admiration, not understanding. 

Why the big dust-up about this quote? The first time I read it, it felt like a heaven-sent message, just for me. And then I thought – Einstein? This meaningful morsel came from Einstein?  I feel a tad vindicated now, because I was skeptical, dubious before – thinking it must’ve been inaccurately attributed to him, simply because it resonated so easily for me, on a soulful level. 

Those fifteen words? Life changing wisdom, if we can let it in.  Years ago, upon discovering the quote, I celebrated — look at me! Inspired by Einstein.  Instead, according to the Quote Investigator, I should direct my admiration toward a hodge-podge of dudes who pilfered a bit, here and there, passing around a couple of cool phrases about “what counts” like a football.  Shame, shame, shame.

Still, I dig the concept – regardless of the hemming and hawing about the origin story. I’m the person who tends to hyper-scan for nastiness…especially behavior that might be a veiled threat, a slight, an emerging insult.  I think it’s related to my past, my childhood and experiencing enough unpleasantness that being on guard and ready to retaliate was a posture I clung to. Longer than I’d like to admit.

Ever evolving, the quote still speaks to me, no matter who the smarty pants author truly is.  Just because I see it, feel it, expect it, dread it, assume it…doesn’t mean I need to attend to IT or even acknowledge IT (whatever the “IT” of the moment is).  Nope.  I can ignore and dismiss, because Einstein (or the other dudes?) was right.  Not everything is worth counting and some of the most important things are entrancing and intangible – so much so that they defy enumeration.  Yep.  I’ll take a tattoo of that, please, to remind me forever.  Like a branding.  Too much? 😉

I’m a gatherer at heart – hungry for all the wisdom I can wrangle (rogue or otherwise) to encourage my selective attention.  I don’t need to acknowledge everything and it’s okay to keep my bumpers on, my buffers up, but my dukes down. Better for all concerned, really.

What “counts” the most?  For me, love, magic wonder.  Sending all of that your way this morning from me…with a little credit to Einstein.

-Vicki ❤

10 thoughts on “You Choose…What Matters to You

  1. Finding the origin of quotes anymore requires a degree in Library Science. It can be very tricky. I’ve had that same issue with MLK Jr. and Ben Franklin quotes. I think though you have the right idea, be cautious but get the value of the message, whatever it might be. Plus, in the end, we’re all building on other ideas anyway. Even Einstein!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love that quote too and have never down the deep dive to see if it was correctly attributed – so thanks for the education, as always!

    But I wonder if attribution is another thing that we spend too much time “counting.” Not that I’m saying people shouldn’t try but we all are riffing off of one thing or another, even Einstein.

    Which leads to the heart of the matter – your beautiful reflection on the quote. Which is definitely what counts here. Nicely done, Vicki!! ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

        1. Oh geez…we need Todd…to find his way into this chatter…isn’t riffing a term – also used to describe musicians who ‘jam’? I know nothing of this — not being the least bit musical. Thanks for the giggles, dear Wynne! 😉❤


  3. I’m almost ashamed to say, but not quite, that I’m not familiar with that quote, regardless of who said it first. Gotta keep things in perspective, count only what matters. For me that’s love, good health, and curiosity. And laughing, too.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I agree with so many of the comments. I’m almost paranoid about not giving credit to someone else, when as Wynne pointed out, one thought often prompts another, which prompts another, etc. Beyond that, I’m with you – the quote speaks to me too. Whoever coined the phrase was smart, Einstein or no. 😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kendra! I think we’ve got some cool consensus going on here…no surprise. You are a big-hearted one, too, and we DO find ourselves enjoying one another’s posts and points of view…no matter who’s responsible for the initial inspiration! Big hugs! 😘

      Liked by 1 person

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