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If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts

  1. Jun 4, 2009 #1
    Well, it is confusing the meaning of the quote, "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts" by Albert Einstein.

    Anyone knows the exact meaning of it? :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 4, 2009 #2


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    That really doesn't sound like something Einstein would say... or any serious physicist for that matter.
  4. Jun 4, 2009 #3
    It's a joke hurryon.
  5. Jun 4, 2009 #4
    I just saw the quote in a text book. Well, do you mean that the quote is not by Albert?
  6. Jun 4, 2009 #5
    You and Albert are on a first name basis now?
  7. Jun 4, 2009 #6


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    Yah it's probably a joke quote. Makes sense coming from the man who so profoundly changed our understanding of physics theoretically.

    No not you cyrus.
  8. Jun 4, 2009 #7
    You don't have to thank me.
  9. Jun 4, 2009 #8


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  10. Jun 4, 2009 #9
    It sounds like sarcasm and I can't find a source for the quote.
  11. Jun 4, 2009 #10


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    It's not necessarily a joke, or sarcasm. The quote could be interpreted as saying that if one's theory predicts something that hasn't been observed, one should go out and try to observe it (hence "change the facts" as we currently see them).

    Obviously, I can't say for sure, but I severly doubt Einstein meant that one should literally change the facts! (Of course, without reference, there is nothing to say that the quote has been corrected attributed to Einstein.)
  12. Jun 4, 2009 #11
    The quote is popularly attributed to Einstein only. It's been used -out of context(?)- when scientific fraud was suspected/apparent. Perhaps it relates to relativety features, "changing facts" like mass, time and dimensions.

    There is also the Keynes changing fact quote with an apparent opposite meaning:

    But this is very impopular, changing minds.
  13. Jun 4, 2009 #12


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    Could you tell us the name of the textbook and give some context to the quote?
  14. Jun 4, 2009 #13
    What he meant was that the fact that he didn't say it doesn't fit the theory that he did, so he is often quoted as having said it, but no one ever provides a source for it.
  15. Jun 4, 2009 #14
  16. Jun 4, 2009 #15
    Quotes from Dirac:

    It seems that Einstein was expressing a similar sentiment. What I find funny is that this idea is beyond the comprehension of this forum, since the majority opinion on string theory around here seems to be quite skeptical, even though the majority opinion of professional theorists is that string theory is is a correct description of physics beyond the standard model.
  17. Jun 4, 2009 #16
    Quotes don't need to have a meaning.
    Any particular meaning wouldn't change anything.
  18. Jun 4, 2009 #17


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    "Facts" can sometimes be subjective, or rather person-relative.
  19. Jun 4, 2009 #18

    Vanadium 50

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    Seventeen posts in, and we still don't know if Einstein even said this.
  20. Jun 4, 2009 #19
    Re: If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts

    my first thought was Bush and the Iraq war.
  21. Jun 4, 2009 #20
    Hah! :rofl:
  22. Jun 4, 2009 #21


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    The quote did not come up in a search of the official Einstein Archives and it apparently has never been found to be said by Einstein.

    "Did Einsten Really Say It? By BARBARA WOLFF
    People often misattribute famous quotes to Einstein or get it partially correct or partially wrong. This article examines 13 of some of the most popular quotes assigned to Einstein"

    http://knol.google.com/k/anonymous/13-famous-quotes-of-albert-einstein/3djcki7u2hhmj/2# [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  23. Jun 4, 2009 #22
    I wish she had discussed this one as it is apparently controversial.
    George Gamow, My World Line, 1970

    Edit: It is not controversial whether Gamow wrote it, but rather whether Einstein said it. Gamow was a noted prankster and I have heard skeptical remarks about this quote from more than one source.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2009
  24. Jun 4, 2009 #23


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    Uhm, she did, it was one she debunked. I showed her quotes. ??? Did you not read it?

    Also, I searched on the "quote" in the Official Einstein Archives, and the supposed quote is not there.
  25. Jun 4, 2009 #24


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    It's absolutely hilarious that someone would attribute this particular quote to the wrong person. What irony!
  26. Jun 7, 2009 #25
    The textbook entitled ''The Art of Computer Systems Performance Analysis'' by Raj Jain involves the quote in the page 507.
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