Great Quotes from Great Skeptics
All quotes except the last three are from The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation by Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky (Pantheon Books, 1984), as cited in The New American , March 27, 1989.
- 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)
- 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 (1838) Professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College, London
- The foolish idea of shooting at the moon is an example of the absurd length to which vicious specialization will carry scientists working in thought-tight compartments.
- - A.W. Bickerton (1926) Professor of Physics and Chemistry, Canterbury College, New Zealand
- [W]hen the Paris Exhibition closes electric light will close with it and no more be heard of.
- - Erasmus Wilson (1878) Professor at Oxford University
- 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.
- - Editorial in the Boston Post (1865)
- That the automobile has practically reached the limit of its development is suggested by the fact that during the past year no improvements of a radical nature have been introduced.
- - Scientific American, Jan. 2, 1909
- Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.
- - Lord Kelvin, ca. 1895, British mathematician and physicist
- Radio has no future
- - Lord Kelvin, ca. 1897.
- While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially I consider it an impossibility, a development of which we need waste little time dreaming.
- - Lee DeForest, 1926 (American radio pioneer)
- 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.
- Where a calculator on the ENIAC is equipped with 19,000 vacuum tubes and weighs 30 tons, computers in the future may have only 1,000 vacuum tubes and perhaps only weigh 1.5 tons.
- - Popular Mechanics, March 1949.
- (Try the laptop version!)
- There is no need for any individual to have a computer in their home.
- - Ken Olson, 1977, President, Digital Equipment Corp.
- I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.
- - Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
- 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 lastout
- - The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.
- But what ... is it good for?
- - Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting
on the microchip.
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