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.

Categories: coronavirus

259 replies »

  1. I don’t know what you’re on about with the un-named virus experts. They have been right on point.

    You don’t need to wear a mask if you don’t have symptoms because wearing a mask may cause you to touch your face more, but if you go anywhere you should wear a mask regardless of whether or not you have symptoms. Now cloth and paper masks are ineffective and you need the N95, but you should make masks yourself out of cloth, old bed sheets, dirty underwear, whatever, and wear them.

    Washing your hands with soap is sufficient and you don’t need hand sanitizer but you should use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to kill the germs. But soap and water cleans your hands and you don’t need hand sanitizer but you should use it.

    Social distancing of 6 feet should prevent the spread, but you should stay home and lock your doors and we don’t quite know how it spreads but social distancing. As long as you don’t look anyone in the eye while they are sneezing and stand on one leg when you touch a door knob, you should be OK.

    Rendevir seems to work in some patients but it doesn’t really do anything to treat this disease. Chloroquinine also has shown promising results but has no affect against this disease. Don’t drink bleach! We should have a vaccine out within 3 months as it usually takes years to develop a good vaccine.

    It’s all clear as it can be even if you don’t listen to Trump.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Tippy, look I know you’re trying in part to be funny, but as I’ve noted before, your tone is very belittling. If you know so much compared to the so-called experts, go run the country or a hospital – and god help us all if you do that with your gut at the forefront. I’ve said this before over and over again, science is meant to be open to being wrong. That’s why they call it science. It investigates itself, admits it’s wrong, corrects course and keeps going until it can do something demonstrably right. Can you say the same for yourself?

    Science is seemingly a bit different from people who just naturally think their gut is correct on all things, because surely that’s not arrogant at all! Watch a couple of videos on youtube and stare at yourself in the mirror one too many times to gaze upon your own munificence and suddenly it’s the other people who are the idiots, right! I’m sorry, you’re pissing me off now and I won’t stay silent whether you like it or not. I’m calling you out on this one. Again, I know you’re trying in part to be funny and ironic, but your past posts lend a certain undercurrent to this post, and while I really like you, I wonder if you’re just a bit too full of yourself. I’m totally good at admitting I don’t know everything – in your sense of things, it appears that the only person who is right all the time is you. Is that the message you’re trying to convey?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I never knew that was why it was called science. According to some science guys … “Science is the pursuit and application of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence.”

      If you search for the origin of “science”, you will find that it came from the Latin “scienta” which meant knowledge, expertness and/or experience. It has nothing to do with being “open to be wrong”, investigating itself etc. etc. You made that up right? 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

        • Well I studied Latin in the context of the English Language origins, and I didn’t make up scienta either, so where on earth did you get the “open to be wrong” etc. from? Please don’t take this as a personal affront. I just have a very curious mind which fixates on details. May I suggest that, in this case, you are wrong in that being “open to be wrong” is a professional ethic, and has nothing to do with why the word “science” has the association?

          Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve already told you that I’m an engineer and a scientist, so obviously yes. When people with an internet connection and ten minutes to spare can declare themselves more knowledgeable than you after a lifetime of trying to figure things out, it’s incredibly frustrating. And it makes me realize just where we are as a society these days. I don’t understand why you don’t see that. Why is it important for you to belittle people who actually know something? What’s the point of that?

        I mean, I look at your dickhead President sometimes and I wonder how on earth that could have happened, but then I wonder if that’s just not the natural outcome of not giving a shit about anything approaching truth anymore. And if you don’t like the word truth, then at least something approaching a real process that kind of makes sense.

        But more probably, I can’t stand the sheer arrogance of people who believe they know everything just because they, you know, do. Yes it means a lot to me because your tone belittles my entire life.

        Liked by 1 person

        • So I’m sensing a lot of frustration. I’m guessing you really want the world to be a better place, and see science to be the solution to that, if only people would be more willing to believe in science.


          • I would prefer if people could be respectful to each other and not belittle them instead. You appear to me to be belittling other people, perhaps because it elevates your sense of your own worth. I don’t know, but I find your tone to be disrespectful and exactly the opposite of what makes the world a better place. I’m not belittling you for your belief in your gut, although I will challenge you – but you see fit to put down those of us how are considered scientists or engineers or whatever, why is that.

            Liked by 1 person

            • No that is not my intent at all. But, as history shows, scientists have been wrong many times. Therefore, while I believe it’s helpful to take any findings scientists report, into serious consideration, I also believe that it’s best they be taken with a grain of salt. It’s my understanding that scientists love nothing better than to poke holes in the findings of other scientists. That is not disrespect. That is called peer review. It winnows the wheat from the chaff. There’s a lot more chaff than wheat, and much winnowing must be done to arrive at reliable facts.

              It seems to me that too often the news reports the latest scientific discovery, and everyone believes it because, after all, it was in the news, and a scientist discovered it. Then a few years later we find that the scientist was wrong. Peer review wasn’t conducted. Replication wasn’t achievable. The scientific method had not been adequately followed.

              Thus, the so-called experts we hear about on TV, with all their wizardry, prove themselves to be wrong, time after time. Certainly it’s a good idea to consider what they have to say. But I believe it’s wise to be circumspect, also, and listen to your gut. Because that s.o.b. who claims to be a scientist may be miles from the mark in his or her findings.

              Liked by 1 person

              • You’re much likely to be further away from the mark in using your gut. Or do you feel otherwise? How do you course correct? Or do you course correct when you’re wrong? I’ve said it before, you seem to think that science is like some vending machine that gives you an immediate truth when you insert a quarter. It doesn’t. It can’t. I’m sorry it’s not perfect in the sense that you want it to be, but the problem there is not science, it’s your expectations or your inability to understand how it’s intended to work. I’ve had my findings challenged over and over again, and I expect that. And I’ve been wrong. You seem to think that’s a failure, when it’s not. Science I think essentially understands that if a road is not the right one, at least you’ve discovered that. That is a good thing, in my view.

                There is no ‘wizardry’ in this field. There is no absolute truth in this field. There might be in your own mind and your own opinions, but there isn’t in science. It’s the best explanation based on the facts that we have at the time. Don’t knock it because someone can’t foresee the future and bring forward facts that aren’t visible at the time. You think the first people who tried to fly an airplane got it right? Does that mean that their attempt was wrong? By your logic, any misstep is a failure. That is so wrong. You learn from missteps and you learn from being wrong. You want to castrate people for that? Seriously? Maybe you guys actually deserve the President you got, if you believe that.

                Thirty years ago, we didn’t know of a single exoplanet in any other solar system. Now we know of thousands. A hundred years ago, people died en masse of various diseases, now we have vaccines for many of them. It’s not a straight line from identifying the problem to finding the answer – why would you think that? Maybe you watch too much tv or expect too much of people, like they can be right all the time when the work is so hard, so fraught with uncertainty until you finally hone in on the reality of the thing.

                Maybe you’re the sob who’s miles from the mark, Tippy. Every consider that? Because in my opinion you show no respect at all for people who bust their asses and make such efforts – to you they’re what, wizards and people who don’t follow the process? Guess what, there are scientists who fabricate data and don’t follow the data. What a shock. But that’s a very small minority and I think if you want to paint the majority with that brush, you are being disrespectful. So go listen to your precious gut. I’m glad it’s not in charge. And please don’t tell me what peer review is. You throwing around generalities about scientists on tv being wrong is a ways away from what peer review is. You’re not peer reviewing a thing. You’re just validating what you already believe by disrespecting legions of actual human beings who are working hard and following a process that has given you much of the comfort that you enjoy every single day of your arrogant life.


              • So in thinking about this, I think this discussion has gone too far and serves no purpose for anyone. I love debate and discussion but I can’t find a handhold in your reasoning to get myself to a different perspective. So peace, Tippy. It’s been a slice.


      • There sure are. I’ve had trouble with her since the beginning and she’s my third one and the better of the three. But when she’s ignored me for three weeks when I’m having some serious adverse reactions to a potent med she put me on, it’s the straw that’s broken the camels back. She’s been an arrogant know it all with little compassion or empathy since the beginning. I put up with it because she was at least treating me. Now I’m done. She’s also fresh out of school and only thinks in the box with these autoimmune diseases. I’ve had to come off the med and be put on three other meds to counter act what this caused through my GP who is asking me if I’ve talked to her. She doesn’t even know I’m off the med because she hasn’t bothered to return my phone call and I know she’s aware. Ugh sorry. I’m very fed up with the medial world. It’s like Covid now is the only thing killing people. God forbid you’re sick in other ways…

        Liked by 2 people

        • Ugh!! Sounds like you def needed to ditch her! So sorry, has to be beyond frustrating!!
          I don’t have patience with Drs that strictly go by the book and don’t think outside the box! And especially ones with no compassion! They are in the wrong field if not compassionate.
          I had to be on beta blockers and they had such trouble finding one that worked for me without causing adverse reactions. I was on them due to hemiplegic migraines not for my blood pressure which they are typically for. Well the one made my BP go really high! I was on the phone to the Dr for I felt horrible and he was like well thats not the Beta blocker doing it for they lower BP. I said my BP was always low until I started the beta blockers. I still got told that it was impossible for the beta blocker to cause it. Drs know all you know!

          Liked by 2 people

          • I’m sorry you’ve been there too. It is very frustrating. They need to listen to us and trust we know some things they may not about ourselves and our bodies and our health norms.
            Since I posted my Rheumie called back yesterday finally. Some excuse about mix-ups and miscommunications. (Right). Any way she was shocked to find out I don’t have a GI doc with what I have going on. I’ve been asking to see one for years. So she is referring me to one in my city and I’ve heard she’s amazing. So something good did come out of it. And now she’s trying to figure out what immune suppressant to start me on next since I’ve failed them all to this point either from bad reactions or them not working.

            How are you doing with your health now? Do you have a better doc? Are things more under control?

            Liked by 2 people

      • Yep. I do have to say though I have one very good “ologist.” That’s my nephrologist. She’s always been willing to do conference call appointments with me to save me the 10 hour round trip and she’s always right on top of things. She’s a rare find and I’m grateful for her.

        Liked by 2 people

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