The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation

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9780394520612: The Experts Speak: The Definitive Compendium of Authoritative Misinformation

Did you ever have the uneasy feeling the experts
are not . . . well, expert?

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau."
--Irving Fisher, professor of economics at Yale University, October 17, 1929

"Forget it, Louis, no Civil War picture ever made a nickel."
--Irving Thalberg's warning to Louis B. Mayer regarding Gone With the Wind

"We don't like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out."
--Decca Recording Company executive, turning down the Beatles, 1962

"With over fifty foreign cars already on sale here the Japanese auto industry isn't likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself."--Business Week, 1968

"There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home."
--President of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

"Bill Clinton will lose to any Republican who doesn't drool on stage."
--The Wall Street Journal, in a 1995 editorial
The Experts Speak systematically catalogues, footnotes, and sets straight these and a couple of thousand other examples of expert misunderstanding, miscalculation, egregious prognostication, boo-boos, and just plain lies. The experts have been wrong about everything under, including, and beyond the sun: time, space, the sexes, the races, the environment, economics, politics, crime, education, the media, history, and science. In this expanded and updated edition (now more error-filled than ever), we see just how much the experts don't know.  But the book also goes deeper, presenting a through-the-looking-glass chronicle of human knowledge: the story of what was and is so, as seen through the story of what we wanted to and did believe.

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Review:

Did you know that the stock market had reached a "permanently high plateau" in October 1929? You would have thought so, had you listened to the experts back then. Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky of the "Institute of Expertology" have made it their mission to compare the actual statements of professional prognosticators with the events following their predictions. Knowing better than to comment directly, they let the reader decide about the (ahem) reliability of the experts.

Brilliantly organized, using the categories of Adler's "Outline of Knowledge," The Experts Speak will educate the naive and entertain the cynical with its thousands of well-documented quotes by wise men and women, from Aristotle ("The brain is an organ of minor importance") to Albert Einstein ("There is not the slightest indication that [nuclear]energy will ever be obtainable"). Concise, well-written descriptions of the events that actually happened--usually at variance with informed opinion--add to the dry humor. If you've always wanted to be a self-assured talking head, The Experts Speak will make you an authority on definitive misinformation. --Rob Lightner

About the Author:

Christopher Cerf is the co-editor of The Politically Correct Dictionary and Handbook and The Eighties: A Look Back at the Tumultuous Decade, 1980-1989. He is a former contributing editor to the National Lampoon, and he co-edited the newspaper parody Not the New York Times.

Victor Navasky is the publisher and editorial director of The Nation. He is the author of the American Book Award winner Naming Names and Kennedy Justice.

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Published by Pantheon Books (1984)
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