Isaac Asimov quotes
Date of death: 6. April 1992
Isaac Asimov was a Jewish-American writer and professor of biochemistry at Boston University. He was known for his works of science fiction and popular science. Asimov was a prolific writer, and wrote or edited more than 500 books and an estimated 90,000 letters and postcards. His books have been published in 9 of the 10 major categories of the Dewey Decimal Classification.
Asimov wrote hard science fiction and, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, he was considered one of the "Big Three" science fiction writers during his lifetime. Asimov's most famous work is the Foundation Series; his other major series are the Galactic Empire series and the Robot series. The Galactic Empire novels are explicitly set in earlier history of the same fictional universe as the Foundation series. Later, beginning with Foundation's Edge, he linked this distant future to the Robot and Spacer stories, creating a unified "future history" for his stories much like those pioneered by Robert A. Heinlein and previously produced by Cordwainer Smith and Poul Anderson. He wrote hundreds of short stories, including the social science fiction novelette "Nightfall", which in 1964 was voted by the Science Fiction Writers of America the best short science fiction story of all time. Asimov wrote the Lucky Starr series of juvenile science-fiction novels using the pen name Paul French.
Asimov also wrote mysteries and fantasy, as well as much nonfiction. Most of his popular science books explain scientific concepts in a historical way, going as far back as possible to a time when the science in question was at its simplest stage. He often provides nationalities, birth dates, and death dates for the scientists he mentions, as well as etymologies and pronunciation guides for technical terms. Examples include Guide to Science, the three-volume set Understanding Physics, and Asimov's Chronology of Science and Discovery, as well as works on astronomy, mathematics, history, William Shakespeare's writing, and chemistry.
Asimov was a long-time member and vice president of Mensa International, albeit reluctantly; he described some members of that organization as "brain-proud and aggressive about their IQs". He took more joy in being president of the American Humanist Association. The asteroid 5020 Asimov, a crater on the planet Mars, a Brooklyn elementary school, and a literary award are named in his honor.
Quotes Isaac Asimov
As quoted in Notes for a Memoir : On Isaac Asimov, Life, and Writing (2006) by Janet Jeppson Asimov, p. 58
Variant: Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
Context: If you suspect that my interest in the Bible is going to inspire me with sudden enthusiasm for Judaism and make me a convert of mountain‐moving fervor and that I shall suddenly grow long earlocks and learn Hebrew and go about denouncing the heathen — you little know the effect of the Bible on me. Properly read, it is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
Part IV, The Traders, section 1; originally published as “The Wedge” in Astounding (October 1944)
Source: The Foundation series (1951–1993), Foundation (1951)
Variant: If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster. Časopis LIFE, január 1984
„The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."“
"A Cult of Ignorance", Newsweek (21 January 1980) http://media.aphelis.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/ASIMOV_1980_Cult_of_Ignorance.pdf
Context: There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."
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„The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny …“
Attributed in the "quote of the day" source code of the “Fortune” computer program (June 1987); more at "The Most Exciting Phrase in Science Is Not ‘Eureka!’ But ‘That’s funny …’" at Quote Investigator https://quoteinvestigator.com/2015/03/02/eureka-funny/
"Science Past, Science Future" (1975) p. 208
As quoted in The Mammoth Book of Zingers, Quips, and One-Liners (2004) edited by Geoff Tibballs, p. 299
„He’s merely the product of his environment. He doesn’t understand much except that ‘I got a gun and you ain’t.’“
Part II, The Encyclopedists, section 2 (originally published as “Foundation” in Astounding (May 1942)
The Foundation series (1951–1993), Foundation (1951)
Context: “That insufferable, dull-witted donkey! That—”
Hardin broke in: “Not at all. He’s merely the product of his environment. He doesn’t understand much except that ‘I got a gun and you ain’t.’ ”
Free Inquiry (Spring 1982) <!-- p. 9 -->
Context: I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic. I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist. I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.
„We cannot afford enemies any more … Within a generation or two human society will be in total destructive disarray.“
As quoted in Isaac Asimov (1977) by Joseph D. Olander and Martin Harry Greenberg, p. 165 http://books.google.com/books?id=8HCwAAAAIAAJ&q=%22Babies+are+the+enemies+of+the+human+race%22&dq=%22Babies+are+the+enemies+of+the+human+race%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=i9ldVKqOM_jLsATbvYCgDA&ved=0CCwQ6AEwAw
Context: We cannot afford enemies any more … Within a generation or two human society will be in total destructive disarray. Heaven knows how bad it will be. The most optimistic view I can take is this: Things will get so bad within a dozen years that it will become obvious … that we must, whether were like each other or not, work together. We have no choice in the matter. … Technologically, we can stop overpopulation, but we have to persuade people to accept the technology. … Babies are the enemies of the human race … Let's consider it this way: by the time the world doubles its population, the amount of energy we will be using will be increased sevenfold which means probably the amount of pollution that we are producing will also be increased sevenfold. If we are now threatened by pollution at the present rate, how will we be threatened with sevenfold pollution by, say, 2010 A. D., distributed among twice the population? We'll be having to grow twice the food out of soil that is being poisoned at seven times the rate.
„It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be …“
"My Own View" in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (1978) edited by Robert Holdstock;
Context: It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be... This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.
„Sometimes, in the dark of the night, I lie awake and wonder if different intelligences can communicate at all; or, if I've had a particularly bad day, whether the phrase 'different intelligences' has meaning at all."“
The Gods Themselves (1972)
Context: "Don't finish, Pete. I've heard it all before. All I have to do is decipher the thinking of a non-human intelligence."
"A better-than-human intelligence. Those creatures from the para-Universe are trying to make themselves understood."
"That may be," sighed Bronowski, "but they're trying to do it through my intelligence, which is better than human I sometimes think, but not much. Sometimes, in the dark of the night, I lie awake and wonder if different intelligences can communicate at all; or, if I've had a particularly bad day, whether the phrase 'different intelligences' has meaning at all."
"It does," said Lamont savagely, his hands clearly bailing into fists within his lab coat pockets. "It means Hallam and me. It means that fool-hero, Dr. Frederick Hallam and me. We're different intelligences because when I talk to him he doesn't understand. His idiot face gets redder and his eyes bulge and his ears block. I'd say his mind stops functioning, but lack the proof of any other state from which it might stop."
Section 1 “Against stupidity...”, Chapter 6, p. 12