A completely idiotic idea

When Alexander Graham Bell Invented the telephone he also made a remarkable leap of imagination. He correctly foresaw how people would use his invention; that they would speak on the phone instead of writing a letter — an early form of electronic mail. Keen to sell his invention, Bell approached the Post Offices and commercial organisations responsible for carrying mail. The U.S. Post Office turned him down, as did Western Union. Then he approached the British Post Office, whose Chief Engineer, Sir William Preece was one of Britain’s most distinguished scientists. Preece was a Fellow of the Royal Society who had studied under the great Michael Faraday himself. Preece examined Bell’s invention, but he, too, rejected it on the grounds that, “England has plenty of small boys to run messages.” Preece later surpassed even this judgment.

When told that Thomas Edison was researching an incandescent electric lamp with a high-resistance filament, Preece described it as “A completely idiotic idea.” This rejection of the new by established science is not an isolated aberration. It is the normal course of invention and discovery. Michael Faraday was described as a charlatan by his contemporaries when he announced that he could generate an electric current simply by moving a magnet in a coil of wire. Stung by these accusations, Faraday wrote, “Nothing is too wonderful to be true if it be consistent with the laws of nature.”

Source: Skeptics who declared discoveries and inventions impossible