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Goodreads lists the quote under Alan Turing but I always thought it was merely from the movie (The Imitation Game) and couldn't find anything similar in his published works

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  • Can you add the link to Goodreads?
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 20:42
  • goodreads.com/quotes/… It is attributed to Alan Turing without any specific piece
    – a13a22
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 20:43

1 Answer 1

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Sir Dermot Turing, the author of numerous books about his uncle, Alan Turing, published an article discussing the veracity of this very quote:

For about £30 you can get [a framed quote] which says "It is the people who no one imagined anything of who do the things no one can imagine." Next to the quote is a print of Alan Turing’s signature.

Marvelous, except that [...] no source is cited. And delving around Alan Turing's published and unpublished works doesn't cast any light on where this one came from. That raises the slightly disturbing possibility that he didn't say anything of the sort.

The article goes on to say that many quotes attributed to Turing found online actually come from the 2014 movie The Imitation Game, as the man himself did not publish much outside of his mathematical work.

Quote websites [...] typically lead with variants of the invented "It is the people..." quote at the beginning of this article. If you study the film's screenplay, this remark comes up a handful of times, in various forms, and it's spoken not only by Alan Turing but by other characters as well.

The movie is based on the 1983 biography Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges. Scanning the book for several keywords such as sometimes, imagine or people yields nothing that resembles the quote. This strongly suggests that the line originally appeared in the movie.

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