Edward Said,  (h/t Adam Johnson):

Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take. You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you need the approval of a boss or an authority figure; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so, to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship. For an intellectual these habits of mind are corrupting par excellence. If anything can denature, neutralise, and finally kill a passionate intellectual life, it is these considerations, internalised and so to speak in the driver’s seat.

Exactly.  And if you do this, you become a “serious person.” You’re wrong about everything that matters, if when your advice is followed, it causes disaster, but you are well taken care of.