Skip to comments.Experts Aren't Deities
Posted on 01/22/2013 11:37:25 PM PST by Kaslin
Let's look at experts. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727) was a mathematician and scientist. Newton has to be the greatest and most influential scientist who has ever lived. He laid the foundation for classical mechanics, and his genius transformed our understanding of science, particularly in the areas of physics, mathematics and astronomy. What's not widely known is that Newton spent most of his waking hours on alchemy; his experiments included trying to turn lead into gold. Though he wrote volumes on alchemy, after his death Britain's Royal Society deemed that they were "not fit to be printed."
Lord William Thomson Kelvin (1824-1907) was a Belfast-born British mathematical physicist and engineer. Kelvin's major contribution was in thermodynamics, and he is widely recognized for determining the correct value of absolute zero, approximately minus 273 degrees Celsius. In his honor, absolute temperatures are expressed in Kelvin units. Being an expert in one field doesn't spare one from being an arrogant amateur in others. Based on his knowledge of heat dissipation, Kelvin criticized geologists of his day and claimed that Earth was between 20 million and 100 million years old. Kelvin also said that "X-rays will prove to be a hoax," but he changed his mind after he experienced an X-ray of his own hand. Kelvin also predicted, "I can state flatly that heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible."
Linus Pauling (1901-94) was one of the most influential chemists in history. He was one of the founders of the field of quantum chemistry and is often called the father of molecular biology. Pauling won the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1954 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1962, making him the only person awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes. Later, he was awarded the International Lenin Prize for Strengthening Peace Among Peoples by the Soviet Union. Many of Pauling's colleagues who admired his scholarly work saw him as a naive spokesman for Soviet communism.
Despite his genius in science, Pauling peddled fringe ideas. In the 1970 edition of his book "Vitamin C and the Common Cold," he said that taking 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily will reduce the incidence of colds by 45 percent. In the book's 1976 revision, retitled "Vitamin C, the Common Cold and the Flu," he recommended higher vitamin C dosages. In his third revision, "Vitamin C and Cancer" (1979), Pauling claimed that high doses of vitamin C may also be effective against cancer. In another book, "How to Live Longer and Feel Better" (1986), Pauling argued that megadoses of vitamins, such as the 12,000 to 40,000 milligrams he took daily, "can increase your enjoyment of life and can help in controlling heart disease, cancer, and other diseases and in slowing down the process of aging." There's absolutely no research that backs up any of Pauling's vitamin C claims.
The take-home lesson is that experts are notoriously fallible outside of their fields of endeavor -- and especially so when making predictions. There tends to be an inverse relationship between a predictor's level of confidence and the accuracy of his prediction. Irving Fisher, a distinguished Yale University economics professor in 1929, predicted, "Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Three days later, the stock market crashed. In 1954, Dr. W.C. Heuper of the National Cancer Institute said, "If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one." Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, in 1943 allegedly said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." "(Research on the atomic bomb) is the biggest fool thing we have ever done. The bomb will never go off, and I speak as an expert in explosives." That was Adm. William Leahy's prediction in 1945.
The bottom line is that the fact that a person has academic degrees, honors and status is no reason for us to abandon our tools of critical thinking..
>> The take-home lesson is that experts are notoriously fallible outside of their fields of endeavor
Experts are but beneficiaries of their predecessors.
He was allegedly the head of the Priory of Sion, as well.
I quite agree with this, however, I do disagree with his comments re:Linus Pauling and his vitamin regimen theories.
Also, I met Dr. Pauling, prior to his death of course, and flat-out asked him if he was a supporter of the Soviet doctrine. He laughed and said that that was something started by his detractors and the answer was a very strong "NO."
He elaborated by sating that the awards he was granted, over which he had no control of their awarding him, did not reflect anything other than fellow scientists applauding his work.
I respect and admire Walter E. Williams greatly, but in this instance I would say he was being a bit fast and loose to make his points.
Kelvin’s derived age of the earth was entirely correct by the knowledge of science at the time he derived it: he could hardly have been expected to take into account the effect of radioactivity (and the immense long-term heating effect of the earth’s internal transuranic elements) when he made his initial predictions.
” There’s absolutely no research that backs up any of Pauling’s vitamin C claims.”
There is substantial research to back up his claims - as documented in his book. He was naive concerning nuclear weapons.
While Newton did devote a small part of his time to alchemy (as did many scientists of his age), the pursuit did not consume his "waking hours." That is a falsehood and an exaggeration. He also spent many of his "waking hours" inventing Calculus and advancing the cause of physics, optics, mathematics, and all forms of scientific thought.
Newton did spend a lot of his time studying the Bible, as he was not only one of the most brilliant men who ever walked the earth, but also a devout Christian man.
From Eisenhower’s farewell sppech, right after the oft quoted part about the “military industrial complex”:
“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded.
Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. “
You just gotta love Walter E. Williams.
He is the breath of common sense and wisdom.
When you see him, hear him or read his writings, there is no color to his skin.
If this was explained to Zero, very, very slowly, would he understand?
OK, sorry, just lost my mind for a minute.
I suspect that this remark was taken out of context because, in that year, the statement was probably true.
“Experts Aren’t Deities”
Maybe so. But Progressives are absolutely brilliant geniuses who know everything about anything, who can figure out anything within a few seconds and who can perform miracles of social justice instantaneously.
It is simply the nature of many humans with an IQ above a turnip to think they know it all. One tragic byproduct of that egotistical kind of thinking is the amount of small-plane crashes piloted by doctors, lawyers, etc. or people who earned their livings by supposedly being smarter than anyone else. Often times they're not.
Dr. Williams’s broader point remains true. You can google “bad predictions” and find plenty of quotes from people supposedly experts or in the know who made utterly wrong predictions about a variety of inventions or ideas.
It's a very conservative speech and extremely relative today.
“Progressivism”/”Liberalism” are but the political expressions of the religion of humanism.
And humanists inherently put great stock in the abilities and morality of the “enlightened few”.
An 'ex' is a has-been, and a 'spurt' is a drip under pressure. (smile)
He is also one of the most funny people in captivity. IMHO