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*   Contents

1  Famous Authoritative Pronouncements
2  Disclaimer
3  For Further Reading

1  Famous Authoritative Pronouncements

...so many centuries after the Creation it is unlikely that anyone could find hitherto unknown lands of any value.
Committee advising King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain regarding a proposal by Christopher Columbus.
The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no limit to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of vanity, to acquire celebrity and raise up a name, others for the sake of mere gain.
Martin Luther
What, sir, would you make a ship sail against the wind and currents by lighting a bonfire under her deck? I pray you, excuse me, I have not the time to listen to such nonsense.
Napoleon Bonaparte, when told of Robert Fulton’s steamboat.
What can be more palpably absurd than the prospect held out of locomotives traveling twice as fast as stagecoaches?
The Quarterly Review
Rail travel at high speeds is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.
Dionysius Lardner, Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy at University College, London, and author of The Steam Engine Explained and Illustrated
I watched his countenance closely, to see if he was not deranged ... and I was assured by other senators after he left the room that they had no confidence in it.
U.S. Senator Smith of Indiana, after witnessing a demonstration of Samuel Morse’s telegraph
No one will pay good money to get from Berlin to Potsdam in one hour when he can ride his horse there in one day for free.
King William I of Prussia, on hearing of the invention of trains
Dear Mr. President: The canal system of this country is being threatened by a new form of transportation known as "railroads" ... As you may well know, Mr. President, "railroad" carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by "engines" which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed.
Martin Van Buren, Governor of New York
Well-informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires and that were it possible to do so, the thing would be of no practical value.
Boston Post
It’s a great invention but who would want to use it anyway?
Rutherford B. Hayes, U.S. President, after a demonstration of Alexander Bell’s telephone
Louis Pasteur’s theory of germs is ridiculous fiction.
Pierre Pachet, professor of physiology at Toulouse
The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon.
Sir John Eric Ericksen, Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria
This "telephone" has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.
Western Union Co. internal memo
The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.
Sir William Preece, Chief Engineer, British Post Office
... good enough for our transatlantic friends ... but unworthy of the attention of practical or scientific men.
British Parliamentary Committee, referring to Edison’s light bulb
Such startling announcements as these should be deprecated as being unworthy of science and mischievous to its true progress.
Sir William Siemens, on Edison’s light bulb
Everyone acquainted with the subject will recognize it as a conspicuous failure.
Henry Morton, president of the Stevens Institute of Technology, on Edison’s light bulb
Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society
Radio has no future.
Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society
Everything that can be invented has been invented.
Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents
The ordinary "horseless carriage" is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never, of course, come into as common use as the bicycle.
Literary Digest
Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.
Simon Newcomb, Canadian-born American astronomer
Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.
Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre
Taking the best left-handed pitcher in baseball and converting him into a right fielder is one of the dumbest things I ever heard.
Tris Speaker, baseball expert, talking about Babe Ruth.
The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?
David Sarnoff’s associates, evaluating his idea
Jan. 13, 1920
Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out in high schools.
New York Times editorial
July 17, 1969
Further investigation and experimentation have confirmed the findings of Isaac Newton in the 17th century and it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error.
The radio craze will die out in time.
Thomas Edison
While theoretically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.
Lee de Forest
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?
H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers
There is no likelihood that man can ever tap the power of the atom. The glib supposition of utilizing atomic energy when our coal has run out is a completely unscientific Utopian dream, a childish bug-a-boo.
Robert Millikan
Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau.
Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University
There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean the atom would have to be shattered at will.
Albert Einstein, German-born American physicist.
The energy produced by the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.
Ernst Rutherford
A rocket will never be able to leave the earth’s atmosphere.
The New York Times
Atomic energy might be as good as our present-day explosives, but it is unlikely to produce anything very much more dangerous.
Winston Churchill
... too far-fetched to be considered.
Editor of Scientific American, in a letter to Robert Goddard about Goddard’s idea of a rocket-accelerated airplane bomb.
The Americans are good about making fancy cars and refrigerators, but that doesn’t mean they are any good at making aircraft. They are bluffing. They are excellent at bluffing.
Hermann Goering, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe
I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
Thomas J. Watson, Chairman of IBM
This is the biggest fool thing we’ve ever done – the bomb will never go off – and I speak as an expert on explosives.
Admiral William Leahy, speaking to President Truman about the atom bomb
Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.
Darryl Zanuck
Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.
Popular Mechanics
Our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter ....
Lewis L. Strauss, then chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission
Space travel is utter bilge.
Dr. Richard van der Reit Wooley, space advisor to the British government
Space travel is bunk.
Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal
I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.
The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall
We will bury you.
Nikita Kruschev
We don’t like their sound. We don’t think they will do anything in their market. Guitar groups are on their way out.
Decca Recording Co., declining to sign the Beatles
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
"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a ’C,’ the idea must be feasible.
A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith’s paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service
With over fifteen types of foreign cars already on sale here, the Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself.
Business Week
But what . . . is it good for?
Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, commenting on the idea of microchips
...there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.
Ken Olson, President, Chairman, and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp
If I had thought about it, I wouldn’t have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you couldn’t do this.
Spencer Silver, commenting on the work that led to the adhesives for 3M "Post-It" notepads
640K ought to be enough for anybody.
Bill Gates
August 26, 2002
Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.
Vice President Dick Cheney (speech in Nashville, Tenn)
September 29, 2002
He [Saddam Hussein] is intent on constructing weapons of mass destruction. Every defector, every intelligence agent, every – you know, all sources tell us that he wants these weapons, particularly a nuclear weapon.
Senator John McCain
November 15, 2002
The idea that it’s going to be a long, long, long battle of some kind I think is belied by the fact of what happened in 1990. Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
November 22, 2004
Republican hegemony in America is now expected to last for years, maybe decades.
Fred Barnes, writing in The Weekly Standard
February 5, 2003
We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction, is determined to make more.
Secretary of State Colin Powell
February 7, 2003
It is unknowable how long that conflict will last. It could last six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
March 30, 2003
.... weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They’re in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat.
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld

2  Disclaimer

These are just for fun. I have no idea whether the quotes are accurate or not. Loosely speaking, they support the idea that appeal to authority is unscientific, as discussed in reference 1.

3  For Further Reading


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