Yet another quote that zillions of people have repeated all over the web, with no one giving a source. It's attributed to Jonas Salk, and the two main variations I've found are:

I have had dreams and I have had nightmares, but I have conquered my nightmares because of my dreams.
I have had dreams and I have had nightmares. I overcame my nightmares because of my dreams.

Wikiquote cites Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing by Larry Chang, and Google Books shows the quote on page 254. The Wikiquote version and Chang's version differ from each other and from both the versions above.

Does anyone know whether Salk actually wrote or said some such quote, and where? I'm not prepared to take Larry Chang's word for it when he doesn't cite a source.

1 Answer 1


On Amazon (link not provided), "Wisdom for the Soul: Five Millennia of Prescriptions for Spiritual Healing by Larry Chang" is listed with the date April 28, 2006, which I assume to be the publication date. Goodreads agrees with this publication date. The 2006 date agrees with the copyright of the book (Google Books link). Thus, I will assume the book was not published before January 1, 2006.

The earliest version of the quote I could find online was in Wikiquotes, appearing on October 27, 2005. It appeared under the category "Attributed" and not "Sourced," so it probably wasn't extant earlier. I could not find any older versions of the quote even after hours of searching. The next oldest confirmed version was on October 17, 2007 here and then in April 18, 2008 here.

A problem with this methodology is that InternetArchive isn't archiving much random webpages from earlier, so I cannot confirm when the quote first popped up at earlier times.

This appears to be one of the times where Wikipedia contains a random fact, an (untrustworthy) book uses it, and Wikipedia gets to cite it. This is an example of fabricated facts on Wikipedia getting published in books (and in this case, even a book published by the University of Chicago). The book states it hence

This kind of feedback loop—wherein an error that appears on Wikipedia then trickles to sources that Wikipedia considers authoritative, which are in turn used as evidence for the original falsehood—is a documented phenomenon.

As the Wikiquote quote appeared before the book, the book likely copied Wikiquote and Wikiquote cited it. This removes all credibility the book has. The lack of similar versions of the quote (online and in print) also makes the attribution unlikely. Where there should be evidence, there isn't.

Did Jonas Salk say “I have had dreams and I have had nightmares”, etc.?

Jonas Salk likely did not make a similar statement. The claim is dubious.

  • Actually, it seems to have been added to WP on 27 Oct 2005, along with many other quotes. That quibble aside, I find your argument compelling; it’s an interesting quote and quite popular on the net, suggesting that someone would have quoted it earlier if it were real. We might add that no one on Skeptics has cited a source in nearly four years. No one has argued against this in three days, either, so I’ll accept. Thanks :)
    – Tom Zych
    Apr 13, 2019 at 0:59
  • @TomZych I agree with you. This answer is not satisfying. I will continue to look out for a better explanation. Apr 13, 2019 at 6:19
  • @TomZych Also, thanks for catching that mistake. I know I saw the October version, but somehow cited the November version in the answer. :( The pre- and post-October versions are extremely distinctive because of the striking difference in length. Apr 13, 2019 at 6:22
  • For those wondering whether citogenesis is real, it is, at least according to Wikipedia
    – Golden Cuy
    Apr 13, 2019 at 6:54
  • @AndrewGrimm Interesting! Don't recall ever finding the list before. Apr 13, 2019 at 6:59

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