If you follow the Admiralty's technological progress from Naval Estimate to Naval Estimate through the Nineteenth Century in the popular press, it's easy to end up making jokes about April Fool's Day and drunkard's walks. The Admiralty was always backwards, always conservative, always wrong. The forward looking inventor, like Galileo, can see what no-one else can see. And the Press, unlike the establishment, can see his point.
If you're a contrarian like me (and perhaps only like me), you end up itching to take the establishment's side. Because the innovators can be wrong. If you set up a process where the only way to escape the criticism is to indulge the critic's every whim until something goes transparently wrong, you get the capsizing of the HMS Captain. Who wants to pay a battleship and 500 lives to shut up one obstreperous inventor, much less sacrifice the eldest son of his main institutional patron to shut that man up? And yet, even after Captain went down, people continued to argue. No less a person than Baron Kelvin was called at the inquest, and proved Captain's recklessly dangerous design with numbers. And yet the matter continued to be controversial as long as anyone cared.
You think, you wish, that the gobs end up stopped. Two decades ago, the province of British Columbia dropped a godawful amount of money in a local shipyard for aluminum-hulled high speed catamaran motor ferries. It was a transparent disaster in the making, complete with the provincial premier suing detractors. (Wikipedia article.) By 2003, "the fast cats" were a bad memory. Yet a certain major national publisher, bought a piece of high concept nonsense of the 1421 variety from one of the advisors that sold the premier on the fastcats and flogged it onto the market with great lashings of positive press. The press made a lot of money, the professionally-wrong author made a lot of money. A century from now, historians will have to listen to earnestly crazy people telling them that Francis Drake built a secret English colony on the inshore coast of Vancouver Island.
The professionally wrong can, and do, go on and on.
I know. My outrage fails to move you. These things happen. It's just that when Nathan Myhrvold raised his head in public again to babble about how we should respect innovators more, I can at least present a test case to refute the meta-argument.