Why we should believe the dreamers—not the experts

“History is littered with the failed predictions of experts. Yet governments hire high-paid consultants to advise on policy; businesses use them to vet research and development projects; and venture capitalists have them make investment decisions. Experts excel in looking backwards, protecting their turf, and saying what their clients want to hear. Their short-term predictions are sometimes right, but they are almost always wrong in forecasting any more-distant future.

Experts are the greatest inhibitors of innovation—the ones who shouldn’t be listened to. Peter Diamandis says it best: ‘an expert is someone who can tell you exactly how it can’t be done’.

Look at some of the most famous historical examples:

‘The telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us’ said a Western Union internal memo in 1876.

‘Heavier than air flying machines are impossible’ said Lord Kelvin (William Thomson), President of Royal Society of London in 1895.

‘There is no reason for any individuals to have a computer in their home’ said Ken Olsen, President, Chairman and Founder of DEC in 1977.

The problem with experts is that they think they know it all; ignore data that don’t fit their points of view; and extrapolate from the past on a linear basis. If some disruptive technology hasn’t come along in the past, the assumption is that it won’t happen in the future. What’s worse is that experts often try to block technologies that might up-end their roles. After all, if things change too fast, they will no longer be experts.”

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