# Experts: Even they are sometimes wrong!

1. Feb 15, 2016

### alw34

Found these online last week, forgot to record the source.

Animals, which move, have limbs and muscles. The earth does not have limbs and muscles; therefore it does not move.

- Scipio Chiaramonti [Professor of philosophy and mathematics at University of Pisa, arguing against the heliocentrc system, 1633]

Mathematics is inadequate to describe the universe.
- Ludovico delle Colombe [Criticizing Galileo (paraphrased).]

The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera. It is absurd to go on seeking it... Knife and pain are two words in surgery that must forever be associated in the consciousness of the patient.

- Dr. Alfred Velpeau (1839), French surgeon
Men might as well project a voyage to the Moon as attempt to employ steam navigation against the stormy North Atlantic Ocean.

- Dr. Dionysus Lardner (1793-1859), Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London.

They will never try to steal the phonograph because it has no commercial value.'
- Thomas Edison (1847-1931). (He later revised that opinion.)

This telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a practical form of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
- Western Union internal memo, 1878

- Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), British mathematician and physicist, ca. 1897.

What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?

- The Quarterly Review, England (March 1825)
Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.
- Dr. Dionysus Lardner (1793-1859), Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London.

The horse is here to stay, but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.
- Advice from a president of the Michigan Savings Bank to Henry Ford's lawyer Horace Rackham. Rackham ignored the advice and invested $5000 in Ford stock, selling it later for$12.5 million.

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, 1932.

2. Feb 15, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Thanks for the quotes.

Also its always good to remember to provide a reference especially at PF and to not post if its only something you remembered but can't back up with a reference.

In this case, though you've provided references for eqch of your quotes except for a few.

Here's where you may have gotten some your quotes from:

http://www.psy.vanderbilt.edu/courses/hon182/what_they_used_to_think.htm

and this one for your "pain in surgery" quote by French surgeon Velpeau 1839:

https://books.google.com/books?id=H--3BAAAQBAJ&pg=PA26&lpg=PA26&dq=The+abolishment+of+pain+in+surgery+is+a+chimera&source=bl&ots=ODf3aQVvDI&sig=p844zGV10m7mYcvw-VmFzuGaGvc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwizvL2_7vnKAhXolYMKHX4iBp4Q6AEIIjAB#v=onepage&q=The abolishment of pain in surgery is a chimera&f=false

and for the stagecoach/ railroad quote:

https://books.google.com/books?id=1sc3AAAAMAAJ&pg=PA475&dq=What+can+be+more+palpably+absurd+than+the+prospect+held+out+of+locomotives+traveling+twice+as+fast+as+stagecoaches&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwja1LTC7_nKAhWonYMKHVMnD5wQ6AEIHTAA#v=onepage&q=What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches&f=false

3. Feb 15, 2016

### alw34

4. Feb 15, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

Great thanks!

I like learning about the history of inventions. You discover that they often come out of someones dissatisfaction with the current way of doing things.

I think George Bernard Shaw in his book Man and Superman, who said:

Some inventions are the result of a happy accident like the slinky which was developed as a spring for instrument mounts but found success as a children's toy.

The "It'll never work..." quotes are probably the best because they get inventors looking for something to solve, something to solve and we get the benefit.

5. Feb 15, 2016

### alw34

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

I remember that from years ago, but did not know it came from Shaw.....

It's a wonderful way to view things, like big government bureaucracy, weather forecasts, silly corporate procedures, and so forth.

On the other hand, it is not a relaxing worldview.

6. Feb 15, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
Not sure if he qualifies as an "expert", but being the CEO of Microsoft, it should be noted that blunders like this also occur in the business world:

Steve Balmer, 2007: "There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It’s a \$500 subsidized item. They may make a lot of money. But if you actually take a look at the 1.3 billion phones that get sold, I’d prefer to have our software in 60% or 70% or 80% of them, than I would to have 2% or 3%, which is what Apple might get."

Zz.

7. Feb 15, 2016

### alw34

8. Feb 15, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
Yet, many in business, politics, etc. often make such definite statements about things with such utter conviction and certainty!

The strange thing is, those of us in science where we often have a higher degree of certainty, tend to make more allowance for uncertainty and other possibilities in our ideas and statements, then those in the areas that I mentioned above where uncertainties, unpredictability, and other unknown effects are greater and are more often.

Zz.

9. Feb 15, 2016

### Hornbein

He may or may not have believed what he was saying. He may have been trying to influence the market in his own company's favor.

10. Feb 15, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
But that's speculation, and in this case, it is neither here nor there, unless you claim to be psychic.

Zz.

11. Feb 15, 2016

### Hornbein

Tip: If a hedge fund manager is quoted in the media talking about what a great buy Consolidated Glitch is, you can be sure he is getting ready to sell Consolidated Glitch.

12. Feb 15, 2016

### Staff: Mentor

http://www.pcworld.com/article/155984/worst_tech_predictions.html

13. Feb 15, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
And this is true 100% of the time? Yes? No? If not, what is the percentage, because you appear to behave in the very same way that I had described in this post ,i.e. making very definitive statement about something that has such high uncertainty and error.

Zz.

14. Feb 15, 2016

### Psinter

I posted one quote here some time ago in the forum.
The image with the quote being:

And the source given by Google:
https://books.google.com/books?id=o91dd5SQL9QC&pg=PT127&lpg=PT127&dq=how+sir+would+you+make+a+ship+sail&source=bl&ots=5MIAj4cPJ_&sig=_b0rmgbTreOiGGUQLgZOB7b040g&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiXxsusjfvKAhUESCYKHQsbBIAQ6AEIPjAG#v=onepage&q=how sir would you make a ship sail&f=false

I love the I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense. Sounds like a refined way to reject someone. Like a sir.

Last edited: Feb 15, 2016
15. Feb 15, 2016

### Hornbein

One may assume that the speaker is pursing his/her self-interest. In the case of hedge fund managers, this seems a very safe assumption.

16. Feb 15, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
And this is what politicians will often do. When they are asked to be specific, and make quantitative description, they turn the tables and ask YOU to prove them wrong.

Zz.

17. Feb 16, 2016

### Kilo Vectors

I don't usually trust "experts" nor governments, who have been known to have agenda and cover up truths.

18. Feb 16, 2016

### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
No, that isn't the problem either. A lot of people will trust only CERTAIN people and buy whatever they say, based on their own personal preferences and agenda.

We ALL have to trust experts. You do too, whether you realize it or not. By using your electronic devices, you have explicitly trusted on a bunch of experts to get it right. The issue here is the pick-and-choose certain experts and ignoring others. Why would you listen to a bunch of experts on a certain issue, while ignoring other experts who have the opposing view on the same issue?

Zz.

19. Feb 16, 2016

### Kilo Vectors

I wish to become such an expert in mathematics :(

20. Feb 16, 2016

### Hornbein

True. Physicists especially. But I avoid experts who have something to gain/lose by my actions.