Great Historical Figure Created By Accident on the Internet

by Thomas Beutel

If you search for the name “Harold Thurman Whitman” on Google you will find about 900 references to his quote:

“Do not ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Yet try as you might, you will not find any historical information about this great man. That is because he doesn’t exist. This quote has been copied over and over on many websites, even to quotation websites! The sheer number of citations now obscures the fact that the quote is properly attributed to Howard Thurman.

It shows how easy it is to assume that something is correct simply because of it’s prevalence in a search result.