There was another example of it circulating on the internet not long ago, where a saying was misattributed to the Dalai Lama. Today I saw another great example of the Matthew effect in a quotation attributed to Jimmy Carter (right). The quotation is actually extracted from an interview with John Fugelsang. Here is the quotation in context:
Who would Jesus vote for in this election?
I don’t know. I don’t think he would vote for either of the two major party candidates. I think Jesus would be third party all the way, if he did vote. I bring up the fact that Jesus never lived in a democracy quite a bit, because when you hear people say, “Jesus said to help the poor, but he didn’t say the government should do it!” I always respond, “Yes, but Jesus didn’t have democracy.” If you want your tax dollars to help people over here instead of blowing them up over there, then vote that way. And if you don’t want your tax dollars to help the poor, to help the sick, to avoid violence, to take better care of those in prison, to help the needy, fine. Don’t vote that way. But don’t ever say you want a government based on Christian values, because you don’t.I actually prefer the original quotation from Fugelsang in which one may hear an allusion to Matt. 25.31-46 (Sheep and the Goats). Also, the term "government" makes better sense here than "country". In order for the briefer, pseudo-Carter version to work, ". . . But don't ever say" has to be adjusted to "then stop saying", but otherwise the saying is clearly the same.
There's a nice analogy here for Christian origins scholarship in another way too. It is sometimes said that simpler, briefer, terser sayings are likely to be more primitive than longer sayings, and this works as a common criterion in historical Jesus research, especially as it is practised by the Jesus Seminar and John Dominic Crossan. However here, as also in early Christianity, the briefer, terser version can be later than and dependent on the earlier, more detailed version (see further Thomas and the Gospels, 145-50).