J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the Manhattan Project that developed the first atomic bomb, meets with Harry S. Truman, President of the United States:
…At one point in their conversation, Truman suddenly asked [Oppenheimer] to guess when the Russians would develop their own atomic bomb. When [Oppenheimer] replied that he did not know, Truman confidently said he knew the answer: “Never.”
from American Prometheus by Bird and Sherwin
Needless to say, (or is it needless?) events proved Truman completely wrong. It was obvious to anyone who thought about it for a minute that it was only a matter of time, and probably not much time.
And while we’re at it, Bertrand Russell is always good:
Belief in a Divine Mission is one of the many forms of certainty that have afflicted the human race.
- from Skeptical Essays
The opinions that are held with passion are always those for which no good ground exists; indeed the passion is the measure of the holder’s lack of rational conviction. Opinions in politics and religion are almost always held passionately.
The most savage controversies are those about matters as to which there is no good evidence either way. Persecution is used in theology, not in arithmetic. –
-An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.
- from Unpopular Essays