People used to think the sun moved around the earth. People used to think that outer space was filled with ether. And people used to think that polymers were colloids and not macromolecules. All these theories now sit in the great junkyard of ideas. It's easy to be arrogant and think that people who used to accept these ideas were really stupid, and that we are infinitely smarter than they were. When we do this we're really being too hard on people of the past. They formulated the best theories they could using the knowledge they had available. If our theories are more accurate, it is because we have had more time than they did to collect information, information that helps us form more accurate theories. Archaeologists have shown that people living thousands of years ago had brains just as big as ours. They weren't dumber than us. They just didn't have as much information as we do now.
With regard to the great debate of colloids versus macromolecules, it Yasu Furukawa, in his book Inventing Polymer Science has made the point that the reason so many chemists accepted the colloid theory over macromolecular theory is because most of them were physical chemists. Molecular structure, then as now, was really the turf of organic chemists. Physical chemistry at that time usually didn't involve answering questions about molecular structure, so most physical chemists wouldn't have studied much about that topic. Thus, they probably weren't aware that Couper's and Kekulé's theories of chemical bonding didn't limit how many atoms could be in a molecule.
An organic chemist like Staudinger would look at things differently, because he had different background information that the physical chemists didn't. Later, questions about macromolecules would come up that required physical chemists to answer, great scientists like Herman Mark and Paul Flory. For example, Staudinger thought that macromolecules were stiff and inflexible. This time, he was wrong. The physical chemists showed most of them to be flexible. This time it was the physical chemists who had the necessary background information to answer the question at hand, and Staudinger's turn to provide the junkyard of ideas with another faulty theory. Score one for p-chem.
Staudinger was a visionary, no doubt. But let's just be careful not to let our own arrogance lead us to think that all the other scientists of the world were complete morons. Even the best of us can be wrong sometimes.