Negotiation, Negotiation, Negotiation

UK Property Investment news and comments from Mark Harrison of YourPropertyExpert.com

What Einstein DIDN’T say about compound interest, why we DO use more than 10% of our brains, (and a confession on my part about Goal-setting)

Posted by markharrison on December 30, 2006

One of the things that’s long annoyed me about “motivational speakers” is that many of us don’t seem able to do basic research.

Today, I heard a speech in which the speaker said “Einstein said that the greatest invention of all time was compound interest.”

A quick search of the term “Einstein compounding” on Google turned up almost 100,000 pages that reference this quote.

The earliest mention of this quote that anyone seems to have been able to find was a 1983 article in the New York Times. The only problem was that Einstein had died in 1955 – some 28 years earlier. So it seems most unlikely that the physicist ever uttered those words.

Likewise, something I heard on another course earlier in the year was the claim that “we only use 10% of our brains”. For various reasons, I’ve been reading up on Neuroscience recently, and apparantly this claim is one of the hot buttons that really gets them wound up🙂 It’s been repeated in adverts since the 1950s, and apparantly all stems from some work done by Dr. Karl Lashley in 1939 that showed that rats could carry out visual discrimination even if over 90% of their thalamocortical pathway was removed. In fact, removing as much as 1% of a brain can lead to significant problems.

And this is where I have to make a confession – I’ve made a similar error – and even worse, I made it on a recording. In the 2004 version of “The UK Property Millionaire”, I said that research done at Havard in the 1970s had shown that students with written goals ended up accomplishing far more. In fact, the study was (supposedly) at Yale, not Havard, and ran from 1953-1973.

However, this is where things get more interesting!

Fast Company (US magazine) approached Robbins Resarch International to ask for documentation on this study… RRI suggested that Tony had got it from Brian Tracey, who referred them to Zig Ziglar. And Zig Ziglar’s office said that the source was probably… Tony Robbins!

So they approached Yale directly: “We are quite confident that the ‘study’ did not take place. We suspect it is a myth” said Beverly Water of Yale, who carried out extensive research into whether this study ever happened, after it was reported all over the place.

Brian Tracy, in response to this research piece, apparantly said “Heard this story originally from Zig Ziglar. If it’s not true it should be.”

You can read the full article here.

I have to admit, that while I’m kicking myself for having included this in my CD set, I’m pretty much with Brian Tracy on this one. Goal-setting has proven incredibly valuable to me, and I attribute the fact that I was able to retire at 32 to the fact I’d started setting goals at age 17.

32 Responses to “What Einstein DIDN’T say about compound interest, why we DO use more than 10% of our brains, (and a confession on my part about Goal-setting)”

  1. Thanks for sharing this.

    I have felt the same way and had the same questions.

    One more infamous such urban legend was that the Earth standing still spoken of in the Bible was proved by NASA. When it was debunked, it turns out it was originally published in a 1930’s article which was taken from a late 1800’s writing. (That being said, I am taking these dates from memory, don’t quote me.)

    NASA said they never used their computers for such test and knew nothing of the man who wrote the article. I heard it again a few years ago. It keeps being recycled every 10 years or so.

  2. Jonathan,

    Not heard that one.

    BTW – Interesting site, yours!

    Mark

  3. John said

    A couple of things here I think its not a case of how much of our brain we use but that we are only using about 10% of its potential. In fact some scientists think we use nearer 1% of its potential.
    As we get older the number of brain cells decreases but the neuron connections increase if the brain is used so an 80 yr old man can have just as active mind as a 10 yr old. Also stroke victims can be taught to bypass the affected area and return to a near normal life.
    All of this presupposes you have a brain in the first place

  4. > All of this presupposes you have a brain in the first place

    Having spent an hour this morning listening the local radio (BBC Southern Counties) seemingly devoting the entire show to what Jade said on Celeb Big Brother, I can understand the question🙂

    The the benefit of other readers of this blog – John is a professional hypnotist, and someone I consult when I have questions about NLP / Hypnosis. If you’re interested in this subject, have a look at his site – http://www.mindengineer.biz/

  5. […] From markharrison, […]

  6. Romauld Nundoo said

    I really don’t know if Einstein said that about compound interest, and I really don’t care, So let me say it, and everyone can quote me from now on, ” The greatest invention of all time was compound interest” I will leave that the most powerful force in the universe is gravity to Einstein.

    Romauld

  7. Great Site!

    Many people are so confused that they don’t know what, where, when, and how to start attaining their dreams in life.

    The question remains: “How do I go about achieving my goals?”

    The most important thing to do before setting a goal is to develop the proper mindset. By conditioning your thoughts to the direction of your goals, you will be able to eliminate all obstacles that come in your way and you will be able to achieve all your goals in spite of the pending challenges ahead.

    You will realize your goals if you are bold enough to come out of your comfort zone and if you maintain that laser-like focus despite people telling you that you can never attain them.

  8. markharrison thanks

  9. Awesome post … I too have run into many such cases of motivational speakers saying silly things that five minutes on snopes.com could have cleared up. (i.e. the Chinese word for crisis, weiji, means danger + opportunity – http://pinyin.info/chinese/crisis.html). Alas, we miss the point (as some of the comments alluded to). Regardless of who said it, compounding interest is an amazing tool. And, a fun way (albeit often incorrect) to convey these amazing ideas is to pinpoint someone/something famous stating or referring to it. FWIW – I still believe we only USE 10% or less of our brain’s POTENTIAL. Kudos!

  10. […] [1] https://markharrison.wordpress.com/2006/12/30/what-einstein-didnt-say-about-compound-interest-why… […]

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  12. constantin said

    dunno about einstein but about Brain you got it wrong .that 10 % percentage represents a part of its usage .For example you have a cell phone – basically it’s impossible to use all of its functions you use only some of them – which represents a percentage let’s say 30 % – this is what you use taking in consideration of what you could do with that cell phone.( my ex. starts from idea of an least ’07 gen. cell phone) The rest of 85- 90 % of brain it’s still ON (working) but for some unknown reasons we don’t “double click it'” I hope you got the point if not … you didn’t get the point

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  15. Leo Maathuis said


    I have to admit, that while I’m kicking myself for having included this in my CD set, I’m pretty much with Brian Tracy on this one. Goal-setting has proven incredibly valuable to me, and I attribute the fact that I was able to retire at 32 to the fact I’d started setting goals at age 17.

    I can’t seem to see the quality of being able to retire at 32, not being a valuable member of society anymore and looking at the wretched world left over to them that had to have been working for the interest of some already too prosperous.

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  18. aaron said

    We don’t use all of our brains all of the time; but evolution is no slacker, so every part of the brain is there for a reason, there are no spare parts. Now that said, when you hear people quote the 10% thing, what they might be misrepresenting is the fact that consciousness, i.e. the entity we define as “the self” does not even use 10% of the brain!
    This is not so surprising, as we don’t consciously think with parts of the brain designed for walking, or regulating heart rhythms, hormone, balance, hunger, pain, fear etc etc, and to suggest we could tap into these structures and use them for conscious reasoning is absurd, they’re just not wired for that.
    Interestingly, the whole affair just shows the innate bias towards wishful thinking in humans, we are so full of s**t we just don’t know when to stop. We believe what we want to hear, even if its completely bonkers.

  19. Very nice post. I absolutely love this site. Keep writing!

  20. Hervey Bay said

    The late, great Paul J Meyer also references this written Goal Setting maxim in his SMI programme that I purchased in 1982. His description of the research was quite detailed. I must get out my Zig Zigler tapes and have another listen after all the reason I moved to Hervey Bay was to realise a goal to be in an idyllic environment, a sea change with a climate that allows development of spiritual goals while encouraging meditation of the beauty that we uncover through spending time with the words of the great scholars of the past and present. Time to convert my tapes to MP3 and the workbooks to Kindle!

  21. Peter L. Griffiths said

    Both the Compound Interest formula F =P(1 +r)^n, and the Present Value formula P =F/(1 +r)^n need an understanding of logarithms in their calculations. Once these have been mastered, the Value of Sinking Funds and Cash Flows can be attempted.

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