FACT CHECK: Did Benjamin Franklin Say, ‘Any Fool Can Criticize, Condemn And Complain’?

Aislinn Murphy | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook credits founding father Benjamin Franklin with saying, “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.”

Verdict: False

Dale Carnegie, author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” actually penned this phrase in his famous book. The misattribution likely stems from Carnegie quoting Franklin in close proximity to the saying.

Fact Check:

This Facebook post attempts to use the quote, featured along with a photoshopped image of Franklin wearing a “Make Our Government Great Again” hat, to promote unity in American politics.

The purported saying is just one of the many quotes attributed to Franklin, inventor of the lightning rod and one of the nation’s best known founders. However, a quick Google search shows this quote actually belongs to Carnegie, the American author who wrote “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” (RELATED: Did Benjamin Franklin Say, ‘We Are All Born Ignorant, But One Must Work Hard To Remain Stupid’?)

Since its original publication in 1936, the self-help book has been sold to millions of readers worldwide. It’s also the source for the misattributed quote.

The book holds up successful men as role models and quotes Franklin just a line above the phrase in question. “The secret of his success? ‘I will speak ill of no man,’ he said, ‘… and speak all the good I know of everybody,'” wrote Carnegie. “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving.”

The misattribution likely comes from the close proximity of these lines. “This ‘don’t criticize, condemn, or complain’ trio is the starting point for many Carnegie seminars to this day,” Blaine McCormick, a professor at Baylor University and author of “Ben Franklin: America’s Original Entrepreneur,” told The Daily Caller in an email.

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Aislinn Murphy

Fact Check Reporter
Follow Aislinn on Twitter Have a fact check suggestion? Send ideas to [email protected].

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