Talk:Isaac Asimov

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This is the talk page for discussing improvements to the Isaac Asimov page.


Defending beliefs to the death[edit]

"There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death."

Where is this from? It's a great quote, and I want to put it up, but I can't find a source for it and I'm not 100% sure it's legit. --Wikipedia:User:Leigh HoneywellChyna & Milawn

I have found no sources for it either, but find no one other than Asimov to whom it is attributed, and even if there were, without definite contradictory evidence it could go in the attributed section. I will add it to this now. ~ Kalki 22:18, 12 Oct 2004 (UTC)

There is no belief, however foolish, that will not gather its faithful adherents who will defend it to the death. - The Stars in Their Courses (1974), p. 36

Duplicate quotes[edit]

There sure are a lot of duplicate quotes here.

how about this one:

Moyers: What happens to the idea of the dignity of the human species if population growth continues at its present rate?

Asimov: It will be completely destroyed. I will use what I call my bathroom metaphor. Two people live in an apartment and there are two bathrooms, then both have the freedom of the bathroom. You can go to the bathroom anytime you want, and stay as long as you want, for whatever you need. Everyone believes in the freedom of the bathroom. It should be right there in the Constitution. But if you have 20 people in the apartment and two bathrooms, no matter how much every person believes in the freedom of the bathroom, there is no such thing. You have to set up times for each person, you have to bang at the door, "Aren't you through yet?" and so on.

The same way democracy cannot survive overpopulation. Human dignity cannot survive it. Convenience and decency cannot survive it. As you put more and more people into the world, the value of life not only declines, it disappears. It doesn't matter if someone dies. The more people there are the less one individual matters.

Issac Asimov, quoted in A World of Ideas by Bill Moyers (May 26, 1989), p. 276 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 64.172.96.232 on 05:52, 21 March 2005 (UTC).

  • Note that the above citation is incorrect. I've added 2 correct sources (a transcript[1], page 6, and audio[2], 20:12) to the quotation in the article and moved it to the Sourced section. --82.171.70.54 14:49, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

The Last Refuge[edit]

I'm quite sure that instead of "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent" it should be "Violence is the last resort of the incompetent".

The texts disagree. (BTW, please sign your talk page comments.) 121a0012 05:36, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

Foolish Beliefs[edit]

I disagree with the combination of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and that particular quote. Pastafarianism isn't a real religion, it's simply an argument to a point, mainly, "What's the difference between belief in God and belief in the FSM?" (there's the same amount of evidence for both: none). A more suitable combination would be some Scientology related image, as Asimov and L. Ron Hubbard were contemporaries, and he remarked more than once that Hubbard had gone astray with Dianetics. It's also more obvious that Scientology has devout believers who take it seriously.--24.83.231.43 00:04, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I mean, come on, Pastafarianism is a satire that wasn't meant to be believed, and few people do. A FSM bumper sticker doesn't mean that the owner of the car believes in a floating linguini entity. Scientology, on the other hand, is almost as ridiculous, and is serious.

I think you're taking its use a little too seriously. It is a bit of humourous hyperbole, using the satire, not an actual targeting of the satire itself. It is in a similar vein to the use of Asimov on the throne with the comment "Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do" which is not meant as an actual indictment of Asimov. ~ Kalki 05:05, 11 July 2007 (UTC)
I dunno, to me it looks like the picture is meant as an example of the quote accompanying it.--24.83.231.43 00:04, 30 July 2007 (UTC)

I request to have the Flying Spaghetti Monster taken down in reference to this quote. How about a picture of a black cat or something, the quote can be about more than just religion. --Yoda99bc (talk) 17:55, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

I agree that using the FSM as an example for this quote is inappropriate. I came to the discussion page to mention that only to discover that it had first been reported six years earlier. I deleted that picture and its caption. Raran75 (talk) 13:13, 30 July 2013 (UTC)

Pi Quote[edit]

"How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics! " Not by Asimov, made famous by Martin Gardener who attributes it to Sir James Jeans http://mathworld.wolfram.com/PiWordplay.html Pete 13:56, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

posthumous quotes?[edit]

I'm confused... some of the quotes listed are assigned dates after Asimov's death. I understand that something can be quoted years after it is said, but why is the secondary date preferred over the date of the original? (...and how reliable are these attributions?) Thanks, 168.9.120.8 15:47, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Last Words[edit]

I am Isaac Asimov.

   * last words, according to his wife Janet Asimov [3]

The above is simply false, according to the book 'I, Asimov'. Isaac wrote that he expected his last words would be 'I love you, Janet.', and in the book there is an editor's note [They were. --Janet]

If the above exchange is true, would anyone consider including it in full on the page as "last words"? It does much to humanize the man, and undercut the "great words" pomposity that quote pages tend to absorb. Quotes aren't just wisdom dished out for others (someone felt they had to invent just that here); they tell an important story about the quoted individual. Just a suggestion! -- doug123w

Unsourced[edit]

Beliefs and Religion[edit]

  • I prefer rationalism to atheism. The question of God and other objects-of-faith are outside reason and play no part in rationalism, thus you don't have to waste your time in either attacking or defending.
  • If I am right, then (religious fundamentalists) will not go to Heaven, because there is no Heaven. If they are right, then they will not go to Heaven, because they are hypocrites.
  • It seems to me that God is a convenient invention of the human mind.
  • Creationists don't want equal time, ... they want all the time there is.
  • Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.
  • One would suppose that the battle for religious liberty was won in the United States two hundred years ago. However, in the time since, and right now, powerful voices are always raised in favor of bigotry and thought control.
  • If I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul.

Death[edit]

  • In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate.
  • Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It's the transition that's troublesome.
  • Although the time of death is approaching me, I am not afraid of dying and going to Hell or (what would be considerably worse) going to the popularized version of Heaven. I expect death to be nothingness and, for removing me from all possible fears of death, I am thankful to atheism.
  • There is nothing frightening about an eternal dreamless sleep. Surely it is better than eternal torment in Hell and eternal boredom in Heaven.
  • Life is a journey, but don't worry, you'll find a parking spot at the end.
The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny ...

Knowledge and science[edit]

  • A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.
  • I believe that only scientists can understand the universe. It is not so much that I have confidence in scientists being right, but that I have so much in nonscientists being wrong.
There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
  • If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.
  • Inspect every piece of pseudoscience and you will find a security blanket, a thumb to suck, a skirt to hold. What does the scientist have to offer in exchange? Uncertainty! Insecurity!
  • Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.
  • Suppose that we are wise enough to learn and know — and yet not wise enough to control our learning and knowledge, so that we use it to destroy ourselves? Even if that is so, knowledge remains better than ignorance.
  • The facts, gentlemen, and nothing but the facts, for careful eyes are narrowly watching.
  • The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny ...'
The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.
  • The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.

This is from Isaac Asimov and Jason A. Shulman's "Isaac Asimov's Book of Science and Nature Questions" (New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1988), p. 281. --Themis-Athena (talk) 10:02, 16 November 2012 (UTC)

  • The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.
  • There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.
  • To introduce something altogether new would mean to begin all over, to become ignorant again, and to run the old, old risk of failing to learn.
  • True literacy is becoming an arcane art and the United States is steadily dumbing down.
  • When I read about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
  • Where any answer is possible, all answers are meaningless.
  • The Law of conservation of energy tells us we can't get something for nothing, but we refuse to believe it. — Book of Science and Nature Quotations, 1988.
  • We are forever teetering on the brink of the unknowable, and trying to understand what cannot be understood. It is what makes us men.

Writing[edit]

  • From my close observation of writers ... they fall into two groups: 1) those who bleed copiously and visibly at any bad review, and 2) those who bleed copiously and secretly at any bad review.
  • I write for the same reason I breathe — because if I didn't, I would die.
  • Until I became a published writer, I remained completely ignorant of books on how to write and courses on the subject ... they would have spoiled my natural style; made me observe caution; would have hedged me with rules.
  • Well, I can type all day without getting tired.
    • Response to a question as to which he preferred, women or writing.
  • Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.
  • I type and think at 90 words a minute.
  • In an article titled "The Unforgivable Sin", Isaac Asimov stated, "...don’t use a long word when a short word will do as well; don’t use a foreign word when an English word will do as well; don’t use a little-known word when a common word will do as well."

I am new to Wikiquote, so I'm not sure how to address this but I can source that quote. The title of the essay ("The Unforgivable Sin") is correct, it appears in the February 15th, 1982 edition of Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. It's listed here: http://www.asimovonline.com/oldsite/Essays/writing.html I have a copy of the magazine & verified the quote.

I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.

Himself[edit]

  • Early in my school career, I turned out to be an incorrigible disciplinary problem. I could understand what the teacher was saying as fast as she could say it, I found time hanging heavy, so I would occasionally talk to my neighbor. That was my great crime, I talked.
  • I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.
  • If I could trace my origins to Judas Maccabaeus or King David, that would not add one inch to my stature. It may well be that many East European Jews are descended from Khazars, I may be one of them. Who knows? And who cares?
  • In 1936, I first wrote science fiction. It was a long-winded attempt at writing an endless novel ... which died. I remember one sentence: 'Whole forests stood sere and brown in midsummer.' That was the first Asimovian science-fiction sentence.
  • Nothing interferes with my concentration. You could put on an orgy in my office and I wouldn't look up. Well, maybe once.

Computers[edit]

  • All sorts of computer errors are now turning up. You'd be surprised to know the number of doctors who claim they are treating pregnant men.
  • I do not fear computers. I fear lack of them.
  • Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.

Other[edit]

  • And above all things, never think that you're not good enough yourself. A man should never think that. My belief is that in life people will take you at your own reckoning.
  • How I want a drink, alcoholic of course, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics! (This is a mnemonic phrase: the number of letters in each word of the phrase is a decimal digit of pi)
  • It takes more than capital to swing business. You've got to have the A. I. D. degree to get by — Advertising, Initiative, and Dynamics.
  • John Dalton's records, carefully preserved for a century, were destroyed during the World War II bombing of Manchester. It is not only the living who are killed in war.
  • United Nations, New York, December 25. The peace and joy of the Christmas season was marred by a proclamation of a general strike of all the military forces of the world. Panic reigns in the hearts of all the patriots of every persuasion. Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all-time low over the world.
  • Night was a wonderful time in Brooklyn in the 1930s. Air conditioning was unknown except in movie houses, and so was television. There was nothing to keep one in the house. Furthermore, few people owned automobiles, so there was nothing to carry one away. That left the streets and the stoops. The very fullness served as an inhibition to crime.
  • No one can possibly have lived through the Great Depression without being scarred by it. No amount of experience since the depression can convince someone who has lived through it that the world is safe economically.
  • To insult someone we call him 'bestial'. For deliberate cruelty and nature, 'human' might be the greater insult.
  • Start part three!
    • After having seen The Empire Strikes Back
  • Intelligence is an extremely subtle concept. It's a kind of understanding that flourishes if it's combined with a good memory, but exists anyway even in the absence of good memory. It's the ability to draw consequences from causes, to make correct inferences, to foresee what might be the result, to work out logical problems, to be reasonable, rational, to have the ability to understand the solution from perhaps insufficient information. You know when a person is intelligent, but you can be easily fooled if you are not yourself intelligent.
  • Seeing a rotten picture for the special effects is like eating a tough steak for the smothered onions…

Help with source verification[edit]

I'm fairly sure that the quote "If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them" came from (or was at least found in) Asimov's Guide to Science (1972), an updated edition of w:The Intelligent Man's Guide to Science. I am unable to verify that it is in there however since while Google Books says it is there on page 15 or so, it won't let me see enough of the page to verify. Also I found a source from NASA that says the quote is from Asimov, I'm not sure if that counts as enough of a source if someone isn't able to verify that it is from Asimov's Guide to Science. That source can be found here. Bastian964 (talk) 02:12, 14 September 2012 (UTC)