Never Mind What Experts Said

In the present time characterized by more and more minute subdivision of disciplines, we give more and more credit to experts and worship them more and more blindly. So long as it is said by an expert, it is correct, one hundred percent doubtless. If a wrong viewpoint is uttered by a man in the street, people will think carefully to judge between right and wrong, but if it is out of the mouth of an expert, it will be very likely to be accepted by both the public and the society without thinking. The consequence resulting from this is especially terrible.

On the one hand, we are immersed in “superstition about experts” and unable to extricate ourselves,but on the other hand,history tells us repeatedly that many experts or authorities talk nonsense. Mr. Lu Xun said: “Experts often talk nonsense”.

Do experts really often talk nonsense?

Yes. Many cold facts in history have given the answer.

As bicycle repairmen, Wright brothers invented the plane, and this story is very thought-provoking. At that time, many experts and authorities, for example, the famous French astronomer Legendre (the first person who used trigonometry to measure the distance between the moon and the earth), the great German inventor Siemens,the German scientist Helm Hotz (one of the finders of the principle of conservation of energy),the American astronomer Newcomb and so on,came out to assert:It was totally impossible to invent a plane,as they had already proved scientifically that a machine heavier than air could never fly. As soon as the experts said so, it was like removing burning wood from under the boiler, everything was over. Those who had wished to offer financial aid to the research took away their funds completely. Only Wright brothers,as they were ordinary repairmen acquiring knowledge by self-study, did not know the “great” nonsense by those “great” experts, relied on their bold imagination and practical efforts, and sent the plane into the sky at last. Suppose they also heard the nonsense from the experts, and believed their words blindly, realization of mankind’s dream to fly into the sky would have been delayed for uncountable years, maybe it has not been realized even today.

There are too many similar examples. In 1943,Chairman of the Board of Directors of IBM Company, Thomas Volin told people with confidence: “I think,5 computers are sufficient for the world market.”

Marshal Foch, President of Senior Military College of France, was very fond of the newly appearing airplane of that time, saying, “The plane is a very interesting toy, but it has no military value at all.”

In 1899,a committeeman of United States Patent Office issued an order to cancel his office, and the reason was: “All things that can be invented in the world have already been invented.” 

Among those who made the above judgments, which was not an expert? What’s more, they were not ordinary experts,all of them could be called endsville great experts in their own specialized fields, but facts have proved that the judgments they made about the future were mere laughingstocks.

Just as Hegel said, the greatest thing mankind has learned from history is that we have never learned anything from history. Indeed,although history has told us again and again that experts may also talk nonsense,we still believe them blindly.

When interviewed by a reporter, the famous futurist Alvin Toffler said: “In the reports of New York Times, Today’s U.S.A. and so on, you may see many questions derived from the past. In these reports,some scientist or expert said,’it is impossible’. It has reminded me of the book Future Profile by Clark. In the beginning chapter of the book, there is an eye-catching list, which enumerates many statements about things that were claimed not to happen by any possibility. All those things “that can never happen” have happened, and have been achieved by top-grade scientists of the time.

Clark once warned us, “If some elderly scientist claims with confidence that something will never happen, please don’t notice his words.” And Mr. Lu Xun said: “Experts often talk nonsense”.

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