Do You Misattribute Quotes?

📝 This Week’s Goal: Don’t be Ted Lasso. Well, be Ted Lasso most of the time.

Do You Misattribute Quotes?
Photo by Ran Berkovich / Unsplash

I love Ted Lasso. I’m not alone. The show earned 20 Emmy nominations, marking it as the most successful AppleTV+ property to date. But Ted Lasso has one slight issue: it attributes a quote to Walt Whitman that might not actually be a Whitman quote.

In the penultimate episode of season one, coach Ted Lasso explains he is constantly underestimated. He challenges everyone (and all of us as viewers) to be curious, not judgmental. It’s great advice, but his attribution may be incorrect.

According to Wikiquote, “Be curious, not judgmental” is not a Whitman quote; who actually said the phrase is unclear. And whether Wikiquote is accurate or not is also unclear. However, Ted Lasso clarifies something every writer needs to understand: attribution matters.

Finding a quote online is easy. Ensuring that quote was actually said by the person attributed is not always as simple. To prevent misinformation and ensure our writing is powerful and accurate, we must do our due diligence. Sure, it takes a bit of time and effort, but it’s an important part of the writing process.

Regardless of who originally said, “Be curious, not judgmental,” the quote should guide all of our writing. Be curious about the information you find online. Don’t take everything you see at face value. Dig deeper. Ask questions. Your writing will benefit immensely as a result.

How do you verify quotes in your writing?

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!