Stolen Quotes: Expert Failures

Experts once recommended cocaine toothache drops for kids.

There’s been a lot of talk about experts these days, and how we should listen to them when they give dire warnings about a certain virus that shall remain unnamed. But are experts always right? Not so, say some experts. In fact they claim experts tend to be wrong more often than right.

David H. Freedman, author of the book, Wrong: Why Experts Keep Failing Us—and How to Know When Not to Trust Them, wrote this article for the New York Post in 2010 entitled, Why Experts Are Usually Wrong:

In 2015, Wired Magazine published this article, entitled, Scientists Are Wrong All the Time, and That’s Fantastic:

And in 2017, this interesting article appeared in the online magazine, Pacific Standard, entitled, Modern Scientists Are Wrong Far More Than You Think:

These articles got me wondering about what experts have been wrong about in the past. So I jumped in my time machine and went hunting for quotes to steal from the experts our ancestors blindly believed. I found a mother lode. I hope the following will help cheer you up if you’ve been listening to experts and feeling anxious lately:

“There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will.” ~ Albert Einstein, 1934.

“We have reached the limits of what is possible with computers.” ~ John Von Neumann, physicist and computer scientist, 1949.

“Before man reaches the moon, your mail will be delivered within hours from New York to Australia by guided missiles. We stand on the threshold of rocket mail.” ~ Arthur Summerfield, U.S. Postmaster General under President Eisenhower, 1959.

“Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” ~ Marshal Ferdinand Foch, French military strategist, 1911.

“Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever.” ~ Thomas Edison, 1889.

“While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.” ~ Lee DeForest, American radio pioneer and inventor of the vacuum tube, 1926.

“Transmission of documents via telephone wires is possible in principle, but the apparatus required is so expensive that it will never become a practical proposition.” ~ Dennis Gabor, British physicist, 1962.

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” ~ H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

“X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” ~ Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883.

“More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.”
“11,105 doctors say Lucky Strikes prevent throat irritation.”
~ Cigarette ads from the 1940s.

“If the world should blow itself up, the last audible voice would be that of an expert saying it can’t be done.” ~ Peter Ustinov, English actor and comedian.


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