A common and popular saying that means that the accepted wisdom isn’t always accurate. The Biblical Noah built an ark and saved humanity from a great flood; the Titanic sank on its maiden voyage in 1912 to New York City. That's a comparison.
The earliest citations come from non-American sources. The Globe and Mail (Canada) has the phrase from 1979, from Globe and Mail resident wit Richard J. Needham (1912-1996). A 1981 source credits the saying to “a disgruntled British comedian.” There are two 1984 citations from England and a 1985 citation from Ireland (attributed to “John Parker"). Richard Needham (born in 1942) used the phrase in 1984 and in his memoir, Battling for Peace: Northern Ireland’s Longest-Serving British Minister (1999), but there is no reason to suspect that this Richard Needham used the saying before Canada’s Richard J. Needham’s 1979 reference.
· 10 years ago