FACT CHECK: Did Mark Twain Say, ‘Never Argue With A Fool’?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

A post shared on Facebook claims that American writer Mark Twain said, “Never argue with a fool. Onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

Verdict: False

There is no record of Twain ever saying or writing this quote. It may be a variation of an expression quoted in an 1878 New York newspaper.

Fact Check:

Samuel Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, wrote several novels that are widely considered classics, including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.”

However, The Daily Caller found no evidence that Twain ever wrote the statement attributed to him in the Facebook post. The saying does not appear in those books, or any of his other works.

“That is yet another good one he did not say,” Winthrop University english professor John Bird told The Caller via email.

“The core idea of the quotation under examination appeared as a biblical proverb,” writes the website Quote Investigator. “The popular saying that has been incorrectly attributed to Mark Twain is part of a large diverse family of statements that began to appear by 1878.”

Indeed, a variation of the quote can be traced back to a 1878 edition of The Rochester Evening Express, where it appeared attributed to another periodical: “Don’t argue with a fool, or the listener will say there is a pair of you. — Cincinnati Breakfast Table.”

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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