Header image from Stanford University Research Into The Impact Of Tobacco Advertising website.
Sometimes it takes society a while to see that what we think we know is not actually the truth. Much like there were many scholars who believed that the Earth was flat, there are plenty of “expert opinions” that are just flat out wrong. However, it’s usually not until many years pass that science and research reveal the truth and we are able to look back on incorrect statements and forecasts. There are countless cases in our world history where it has taken science a while to catch up with the truth. Even when it appears that all the research is available, it isn’t until much later that we see how little we knew.
Here are 15 times that even the experts have been wrong in a big way:
15. “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
14. “We don’t like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out.” – Decca Recording Company on declining to sign the Beatles, 1962
13. “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
12. “Rail travel at high speed is not possible because passengers, unable to breathe, would die of asphyxia.” – Dr. Dionysius Lardner, 1830
11. “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943
10. “X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” – Lord Kelvin, President of the Royal Society, 1883
9. “The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.” – The president of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903
8. “Television won’t last because people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” – Darryl Zanuck, movie producer, 20th Century Fox, 1946
7. “If excessive smoking actually plays a role in the production of lung cancer, it seems to be a minor one.” – W.C. Heuper, National Cancer Institute, 1954
6. “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
5. “The world potential market for copying machines is 5,000 at most.” – IBM to the eventual founders of Xerox, saying that the photocopier had no market large enough to justify production, 1959
4. “It’ll be gone by June.” – Variety Magazine on Rock n’ Roll music, 1955
3. “When the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it and no more will be heard of it.” – Oxford professor Erasmus Wilson, 1878
2. “A rocket will never leave Earth’s atmosphere.” – New York Times, 1936
1. “There’s absolutely no evidence that pornography does anything negative. It’s a moral issue, not a factual issue.” – Milton Diamond, director of the Pacific Center for Sex and Society at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011
Why This Matters
Let’s talk about that last statement. What you just read was a quote from an expert as recent as 2011 saying that pornography was not a factual issue, only a moral issue. Compare that with the hundreds of peer reviewed studies on the harmful effects of pornography that have come out on the topic, and it’s safe to say that this problem is much more serious than people’s opinions on family values.
The pornography industry and its advocates often claim the anti-porn movement as just being a morality play, as they feel porn should be a decision made individually by private citizens. And we agree it’s a private decision, assuming they have all the facts before making that decision. And here’s the thing: pornography doesn’t only harm those on the receiving side of the screen. Just watching porn has ripple effects the viewer rarely sees.
What our society is facing today with porn is very similar to what we faced back in the 1950s and 60s with cigarette smoking. It was highly popular and viewed as completely harmless for decades, until science was able to prove otherwise. Similarly, we are learning the same lesson about pornography.
Just like the Big Tobacco industry, the porn industry would love for you to forget anything negative you’ve heard about them, even if your sources are iron-clad peer-reviewed studies and credible sources and stories from ex-performers. And also like Big Tobacco, the porn industry refuses to take responsibility for the harm and damage they’re directly causing as a result of their product.
But it’s only a matter of time before that all changes.