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"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." — Albert Einstein Actually, Rita Mae Brown.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. Brown did include this quote in her book Sudden Death (Bantam Books, New York, 1983), p. 68, but it appears she was just paraphrasing a quote that had already been written elsewhere. The earliest known appearance of a similar quote is the "approval version" of the Narcotics Anonymous "Basic Text" released in November 1981, which included the quote "Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results." A PDF scan of the 1981 approval version can be found here, with the quote appearing on p. 11 (p. 25 of the PDF), at the end of the fourth paragraph (which begins "We have a disease; progressive, incurable and fatal").
This quote is generally attributed to Einstein in most online quote collections, however there seems to be significant debate about the authenticity of this attribution. Others like Mark Twain, an old Chinese proverb and Benjamin Franklin have also been suggested as the originators, but general consensus concludes that they have a significantly lesser claim than Einstein. The earliest claim is that Einstein used and published the quote in his "Letters to Solovine 1951" however no specific reference has yet been supplied from that source. There is apparently an attribution to Einstein using this quote in a transactions of the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference, Volume 71, p. 54, Wildlife Management Institute, published in 1975 although according to Bill Hood's answer, this volume was actually published in 2006.
Other verifiable evidence of the quote's original authorship come from:
1.Rita Mae Brown's 1983 novel, Sudden Death, published by Bantam Books, New York p.68 (attributed to Jane Fulton) 2.Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) pamphlet - Step 2: A promise of Hope, p10, James G. Jenson, 1980.
3.Narcotics Anonymous - The Basic Text of Narcotics Anonymous which was copyrighted in 1981. It is found on page 11 of the final "Review Form" which was distributed to the fellowship in November of 1981. The quote in that text is "Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results". The quote appears on page 25 of this pdf - www.amonymifoundation.org......