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Traditional Reference



In 1968 the quotation appeared in the 14th edition of the seminal reference work Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations. The words were attributed to Burke and a 1795 letter was specified as support.

In the 16th edition the quote is listed under Burke and a footnote indicates that vigorous searches have failed to find the words in Burke’s oeuvre.

--The Quote Investigator, December 4, 2010. p>

Is it true? Where's the proof?

We absorb information best by using multiple senses. Make your impressions visual, verbal and auditory. A study done at the University of Texas found that people remember (Metcalf 1997):

10 percent of what they read
20 percent of what they hear
30 percent of what they see
50 percent of what they see and hear
70 percent of what they say
and 90 percent of what they do and say

Metcalf, T. (1997) Listening to your clients, Life Association News, 92(7) p16 - 18


The trouble is, no one can find the data on which the statements are based.



A reference Consultation concerning the Dale Learning/Retention Cone in the Spring of 2014 (and later follow-ups during the year) led to published results:

Subramony, Deepak Prem; Molenda, Michael; Betrus, Anthony K.; Thalheimer, Will. "Previous Attempts to Debunk the Mythical Retention Chart and Corrupted Dale's Cone." Educational Technology, v54 n6 p17-21 Nov Dec 2014. 5 pp.

Subramony, Deepak Prem; Molenda, Michael; Betrus, Anthony K.; Thalheimer, Will. "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: A Bibliographic Essay on the Corrupted Cone." Educational Technology, v54 n6 p22-31 Nov-Dec 2014. 10 pp.

Subramony, Deepak Prem; Molenda, Michael; Betrus,Anthony K.; Thalheimer, Will. "The Mythical Retention Chart and the Corruption of Dale's Cone of Experience." Educational Technology, v54 n6 p6-16 Nov-Dec 2014. 11 pp

Nice guys finish last

  • Bogart didn't say, "Play it again, Sam."
  • Lincoln didn't say, "God must have loved the common people; he made so many of them."
  • Twain didn't say, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics."
  • Voltaire didn't say,"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."
  • Darwin didn't say, "How I wish I had not expressed my theory of evolution as I have done."