Learn English – Words or phrases that describe a person who knows the answer to a problem but is not believed


I'm trying to find either a word or a phrase that describes a person who knows the answer to a problem or problems but is never believed, even though the person is actually correct.

The nearest I can come up with is maybe the story of Cassandra, but that is about knowing the future but never being believed.

The word or a phrase may indicate they are simply ignored, but I am more interested in answers indicating the person suffers negative consequences such as being ridiculed or even persecuted for their correct solution. Maybe think of people such as Galileo

I stumbled across this excellent visualisation of people whose ideas were rejected and were treated as pariahs for them but were later proven to be correct. These are exactly the kind of people I am looking for words or phrases to describe.

Best Answer

I would argue that Cassandra does work here: the name is often used metaphorically, in a variety of fields. For example,

achieving a clear, shared vision in an organization is often difficult due to a lack of commitment to the new vision by some individuals in the organization, because it does not match reality as they see it. Those who support the new vision are termed ‘Cassandras’ – able to see what is going to happen, but not believed.

(same Wikipedia source linked above)

While Cassandra does have connotations of having to do with the future, any solution to a present problem is, by definition, a future thing. Someone who posits a solution is predicting that their solution will solve the problem. And failure to agree with a solution (that, we stipulate, would turn out to solve the problem) is most likely due to a failure of perception: either the perception that the person offering the solution isn’t worth listening to, or that the problem and/or its solution would work out differently than they will.