Cosmic Quote #9

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.”–Harlan Ellison

Credit: Doug Savage. Click image for link.

Wow.  He got that right.  The latter seems particularly abundant these days;  on a Monday morning during election season I have no patience for it.  What is dumber, the idiot political wonks who put out all the attack ads, or the few remaining idiot voters who actually pay attention to them?   I’ll vote for the genius who promises to start the work week on Tuesday!  (I’m not in education or government or banking–I have to work on Columbus Day.)  Check out my Google search terms post for more on stupidity.  🙂


  1. Wow, I already have a voter on my side 😉

  2. I’m with you and Harlan.

  3. There’s always “Monday.” It falls on the day after your day(s) off.

  4. Anne Bonney says:

    Thanks for the chuckle.

  5. It’s Monday?

  6. Harlan Ellison? Are you sure? I’ve also seen it attributed to Albert Einstein (almost certainly incorrect attribution), and Frank Zappa. Maybe Zappa and Einstein, with a beer.

    Ellison sounds more likely. Got a citation? ::scurrying off to find one::

    • Wikiquote has it, and not as misattributed:

      NO ONE GETS OUT OF CHILDHOOD ALIVE. It’s not the first time I’ve said that. But among the few worthy bon mots I’ve gotten off in sixty-seven years, that and possibly one other may be the only considerations eligible for carving on my tombstone. (The other one is the one entrepreneurs have misappropriated to emboss on buttons and bumper stickers: The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.
      (I don’t so much mind that they pirated it, but what does honk me off is that they never get it right. They render it dull and imbecile by phrasing it thus: “The two most common things in the universe are…”
      (Not things, you insensate gobbets of ambulatory giraffe dung, elements! Elements is funny, things is imprecise and semi-guttural. Things! Geezus, when will the goyim learn they don’t know how to tell a joke.

      Introduction to Blast Off : Rockets, Robots, Ray Guns, and Rarities from the Golden Age of Space Toys (2001) by S. Mark Young, Steve Duin, Mike Richardson, p. 6; the quote on hydrogen and stupidity is said to have originated with an essay of his in the 1960s, and is often misattributed to Frank Zappa, who made similar remarks in The Real Frank Zappa Book (1989): “Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.”

      Zappa probably read Ellison.

      Ellison’s an interesting guy. The deeper I dig into his stuff, the greater his genius shines. It’s usually the other way around.


  1. […] tried to track it down without success that I considered close enough to wager on.  Recently someone mentioned that he thought he recalled it being said first by Harlan Ellison, and of course, that checks […]

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