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Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.

AUTHOR: Josh Billings (1818–85)
QUOTATION: The trouble with people is not that they don’t know but that they know so much that ain’t so.
ATTRIBUTION: Attributed to JOSH BILLINGS (Henry Wheeler Shaw) by The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 3d ed., p. 491 (1979). Not verified in his writings, although some similar ideas are found in Everybody’s Friend, or Josh Billing’s Encyclopedia and Proverbial Philosophy of Wit and Humor (1874). Original spelling is corrected:

“What little I do know I hope I am certain of” (p. 502).

“Wisdom don’t consist in knowing more that is new, but in knowing less that is false” (p. 430).

“I honestly believe it is better to know nothing than to know what ain’t so” (p. 286).

Walter Mondale echoed the words above in his first debate with President Ronald Reagan, October 7, 1984, in Louisville, Kentucky: “I’m reminded a little bit of what Will Rogers once said of Hoover. He said it’s not what he doesn’t know that bothers me, it’s what he knows for sure just ain’t so.”—Transcript, The New York Times, October 8, 1984, p. B4. This has not been found in Rogers’s work.
SUBJECTS: Knowledge