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In today’s WSJ, David Mamet writes about expertise and influence, pointing out that experts who get important things wrong, sometimes causing great harm to millions of people, often pay no personal price whatsoever. One example he mentions is the pre-WWII secret British debate on air defense technologies and especially the role played by Churchill’s scientific advisor, Professor Frederick Lindemann.
It is an interesting and important story, and is discussed by the scientist/novelist CP Snow in his 1960 book Science and Government…which, he says, was inspired by the following thought: