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phoenyx's avatar

Why the saying "great minds think alike"?

Asked by phoenyx (7388points) October 10th, 2009

Aren’t the great minds the ones thinking unique, novel thoughts? Isn’t it the mundane, average people who are thinking alike?

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19 Answers

gggritso's avatar

Well I’ll be damned, I think you’re right. Although, one could argue that truly great minds would be set on doing great things, and are thinking of ways to change the world for the better (or greatly for the worse); that would be a common way of thinking.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I never gave the saying much thought – I’ve used it in passing, as a joke

dpworkin's avatar

It’s a self-congratulatory exchange between two people, most likely mediocre minds, who happen to agree on something.

Sometimes it’s just another way to say, “Oh, I think so, too.”

grumpyfish's avatar

My favorite response to this is “And so do ours!” =)

Samurai's avatar

“Great minds think alike” means that great people think about things in similar ways. It’s still an idiom.

gailcalled's avatar

No, it’s a cliché.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

“Great minds think alike” means that anyone who thinks the way you do, must be a genius. Don’t most people think they’re clever?

patg7590's avatar

“great minds think for themselves”

Samurai's avatar

Someone should credit some sources for finding their facts, each and everyone seems to differ even though mine is obviously correct!

BhacSsylan's avatar

A great line from Dilbert. Wally, specifically:

“Have you ever noticed that things that don’t kill you make you weaker? And great minds don’t think alike. If they did, the patent office would only have about fifty inventions. I started getting suspicious when I cried over spilt milk and the cashier took it off my bill.”

Jeruba's avatar

On the banality scale for clichés, I give this one a ten. I differ with @pdworkin‘s interpretation to this extent, that it is usually only one of the two who says it, not both, and usually not the one who voiced the idea.

DarkScribe's avatar

It is a trite saying, even the person saying it doesn’t really believe it.

Aren’t the great minds the ones thinking unique, novel thoughts?

Great minds certainly can think alike – or differently. Intellect doesn’t mean agreement or disagreement. Many times a notable invention has been patented within the same time-frame on different continents – even in the days of slow communication – several weeks or months for mail to pass from one continent to another.

noodle_poodle's avatar

the whole saying is “great minds think alike and beggars hardly differ” or so It is where i come from so its sort of an ironic joke anyway

LostInParadise's avatar

Just to be contrary to the general trend here, there may be a grain of truth in the statement. At any given time, there may be a small number of far sighted individuals who break away from the herd and see things as they truly are. It is not unusual for novel ideas to be developed independently by more than one person. Although not nearly as well known, Alfred Russel Wallace came up with the theory of evolution independently of Darwin at around the same time. Of course there were a whole lot of other great minds at the time who were pursuing ideas other than evolution.

gailcalled's avatar

Leibnitz and Newton come to mind, speaking of derivative ideas.

ShanEnri's avatar

It’s said to make one or the other person feel “great”. At least that’s what I think about when I hear it said!

hippiechick's avatar

There’s a second half to the saying: “great minds think alike, and fools never differ – I grew up wondering how to tell the difference between a great mind and a foolish one! I think it’s designed (so much as these things can be) to warn that what seems like a great idea shared by two people could be a really foolish caught-in-the-moment thing… maybe…

bunnygrl's avatar

“great minds think alike
fools seldom differ more like”

is how I always heard it growing up, I just thought it was irony?

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