And Samuel Halpern, so eager to criticize my analysis, calling it "flawed from the very start," failed to respond in any manner at all. And so did more than thirty others reading this particular thread. Since I first posted here, I have not seen even one person take on the exceedingly simple task of providing THEIR OWN probability estimates, much less try to justify them. Why? Because they see how the Authoritarian Know-It-All Bullies criticize and carp. Who needs it! And cowardice is surely more prevalent than courage. Or do the Authoritarians wish to debate that point as well?
On the subject of experts being very wrong, which is surely an appropriate description of Captain Smith, here are some other widely cited examples.
"Rail travel at high speed is not possible, because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia."- Dr Dionysys Larder (1793-1859), professor of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, University College London.
Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy," -- Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.
"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction." -- Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872
"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon," -- Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon-Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873
"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 internal memo, 1876
"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, 1878.
... 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, 1878.
"X-rays will prove to be a hoax." - Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible," -- Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.
"It is apparent to me that the possibilities of the aeroplane, which two or three years ago were thought to hold the solution to the [flying machine] problem, have been exhausted, and that we must turn elsewhere."- Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1895.
"Fooling around with alternating current is just a waste of time. Nobody will use it, ever." - Thomas Edison, American inventor, 1889 (Edison often ridiculed the arguments of competitor George Westinghouse for AC power).
"Radio has no future." - Lord Kelvin, Scottish mathematician and physicist, former president of the Royal Society, 1897
"Everything that can be invented has been invented."- Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899
"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value," -- Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre, 1904
"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 edition, 1909
"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" -- David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.
"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" - H. M. Warner (1881-1958), founder of Warner Brothers, in 1927
"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923
"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." -- Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.
"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.
"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper," - Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."
"The energy produced by the breaking down of 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." - Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time.
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers."- Thomas Watson (1874-1956), Chairman of IBM, 1943
"Man will never reach the moon regardless of all future scientific advances." -- Dr. Lee DeForest, Inventor of TV
"The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives." -- Admiral William Leahy, US Atomic Bomb Project, advising President Truman on atomic weaponry, 1944.
"Very interesting Whittle, my boy, but it will never work."- Cambridge Aeronautics Professor, when shown Frank Whittle's plan for the jet engine.
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." -- Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949
"It will be gone by June." - Variety, passing judgement on rock 'n roll in 1955.
"Space travel is utter bilge." - Richard Van Der Riet Woolley, upon assuming the post of Astronomer Royal in 1956.
"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, 1957
"Space travel is bunk." - Sir Harold Spencer Jones, Astronomer Royal of the UK, 1957 (two weeks later Sputnik orbited the Earth).
"There will never be a bigger plane built." - A Boeing engineer, after the first flight of the 247, a twin engine plane that holds ten people.
"We stand on the threshold of rocket mail." -– U.S. postmaster general Arthur Summerfield, in 1959.
"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. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)
"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make," -- Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.
"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out," -- Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.
"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 and author of Inventing the Future, 1962.
"There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States."- T. Craven, FCC Commissioner, in 1961 (the first commercial communications satellite went into service in 1965).
"But what ... is it good for?" -- Engineer Robert Lloyd at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.
"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this," -- Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads
"The super computer is technologically impossible. It would take all of the water that flows over Niagara Falls to cool the heat generated by the number of vacuum tubes required." -- professor of electrical engineering, New York University
"I don't know what use any one could find for a machine that would make copies of documents. It certainly couldn't be a feasible business by itself." -- the head of IBM, refusing to back the idea, forcing the inventor to found Xerox
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." -- Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977
"We have been cocksure of many things that were not so." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
"This isn't right, this isn't even wrong." - Wolfgang Pauli