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Who said this:

Everybody is smarter than anybody.

I have been trying to find the origin of this phrase with no success. I think I first heard it from a speaker on an IT subject (but I am not sure if its origin is from a person with a technology background).

I would like to use this quote but won't use it if I can't give a proper attribution.

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Are you sure it's the right way round? –  Peter Taylor Jun 15 '11 at 6:27
    
@Peter Yes, it's the right way round. It means that collectively, we're better than each of us separately. Synergy. Like what SE does :) –  Hugo Jun 15 '11 at 13:19
    
The Demotivator folks have my favorite take on this quote: i.stack.imgur.com/rsgjo.jpg –  T.E.D. Jun 15 '11 at 13:30
    
@Peter Taylor - Perhaps you are thinking of the variant I posted in my answer below? –  T.E.D. Jun 15 '11 at 14:52
    
@T.E.D., similar sentiments, although expressed about crowds (or mobs) rather than meetings. –  Peter Taylor Jun 15 '11 at 15:19
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1 Answer

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This dates back to at least 1949, where it is referenced in these conference proceedings with attribution to Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967):

enter image description here

I've also heard it as "all of us are better than one of us", which dates at from the late nineties.


Edit: Carl Sandburg's original line is "Everybody is cleverer than anybody", published in 1936's The People, Yes. (You can read a bit more of it in this book.)

enter image description here


Edit 2: And "everybody is cleverer than anybody" goes to back 1877, where it is referenced by several Westminster publications as an "epigram of Talleyrand" or "Talleyrand's famous sentence". This is the French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754 – 1838). I've not found the original French, but it has also been translated as:

“There is one body that knows more than anybody, and that is everybody”

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Wow! This is my first question here and I am very impressed. Thanks. –  John R Jun 16 '11 at 1:27
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