Quoting “William James”

Not long ago, Sister Juliann called my attention to this line, attributed to William James:

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

The attribution is all over the web, but with no source, and it doesn’t really sound like him, does it? Hard to prove the negative, but you’d think that someone would mention where he had written it, or when he had said it. The same source (again via Sr J) produced another:

“Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing, moving at different speeds. A sense of humor is just common sense, dancing.”

Even less Jamesian, wouldn’t you say? But this time The Google was more helpful, and it turns out that it is Jamesian—just not William Jamesian. It’s from Clive James, q.G.

There are historical figures that seem to be (mis)attribution magnets: Shaw, Churchill, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde. James, not so much, I wouldn’t have thought. But there you are.

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