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160 Isaac Asimov Quotes on Science and the Intellect

2. “Any planet is ‘Earth’ to those that live on it.”

3. “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”

4. “I write for the same reason I breathe—because if I didn’t, I would die.”

5. “Life is pleasant. Death is peaceful. It’s the transition that’s troublesome.”

6. “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.’”

7. “Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do.”

8. “Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right.”

9. “Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

10. “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.”

11. “It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say it’s as plain as the nose on your face, but how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”

12. “The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny.’”

13. “In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate.”

14. “Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.”

15. “If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”

16. “Creationists make it sound as though a theory is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.”

17. “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.”

18. “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”

19. “If knowledge can create problems, it is not through ignorance that we can solve them.”

20. “Intelligence is an accident of evolution, and not necessarily an advantage.”

21. “I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough.”

22. “My real education—the superstructure, the details, the true architecture—I got out of the public library.”

23. “People think of education as something they can finish.”

24. “History moves on and you can’t really turn it back.”

25. “You can prove anything you want by coldly logical reason if you pick the proper postulates.”

26. “Knowledge remains better than ignorance.”

27. “It is better to know—even if the knowledge endures only for the moment that comes before destruction—than to gain eternal life at the price of a dull and swinish lack of comprehension of a universe that swirls unseen before us in all its wonder.”

28. “Congratulations on the new library, because it isn’t just a library. It is a spaceship that will take you to the farthest reaches of the Universe—a time machine that will take you to the far past and the far future, a teacher that knows more than any human being, a friend that will amuse you and console you, and most of all, a gateway to a better and happier and more useful life.”

29. “Any book worth banning is a book worth reading.”

30. “The true delight is in the finding out rather than in the knowing.”

31. “If you don’t know it from your own experience—that reading a good book, losing yourself in the interest of words and thoughts—is for some people an incredible intensity of happiness.”

32. “The most hopelessly stupid man is he who is not aware he is wise.”

33. “What’s exciting is the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand.”

34. “Nothing has to be true, but everything has to sound true.”

35. “Aimless extension of knowledge, however—which is what I think you really mean by the term curiosity—is merely inefficiency.”

36. “I am designed to avoid inefficiency.”

37. “In the presence of total darkness, the mind finds it absolutely necessary to create light.”

38. “The human mind works at low efficiency. Twenty percent is the figure usually given. When momentarily, there is a flash of greater power, it is termed a hunch, or insight, or intuition.”

39. “The significance of the dream was clear to me. I felt Heaven to be the act of writing, and I have been in Heaven for over half a century, and I have always known this.”

40. “Mathematicians deal with large numbers sometimes, but never in their income.”

41. “The reaction of one man could be forecast by no known mathematics; the reaction of a billion is something else again.”

42. “You don’t need schooling to be a philosopher. Just an active mind and experience with life.”

43. “Perhaps human beings had no feelings, only neuronic surges that were interpreted as feelings.”

44. “Encyclopedias don’t win wars.”

45. “I’ll take that challenge. It’s a dead hand against a living will.”

46. “Well, he used to say that only a lie that wasn’t ashamed of itself could possibly succeed. He also said that nothing had to be true, but everything had to sound true.”

47. “Darkness thickened and collapsed about him. Some of it never lifted again.”

48. “Despite all that education and experience can do, I retain a certain level of unsophistication that I cannot eradicate and that my friends find amusing.”

49. “It is the invariable lesson to humanity that distance in time, and in space as well, lends focus.”

50. “To surrender to ignorance and call it God has always been premature, and it remains premature today.”

51. “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.”

52. “Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.”

53. “My is, quite simply, that if there is a God, He has done such a bad job that he isn’t worth discussing.”

54. “I have never, in all my life, not for one moment, been tempted toward religion of any kind.”

55. “The fact is that I feel no spiritual void.”

56. “I have my philosophy of life, which does not include any aspect of the supernatural and which I find totally satisfying. I am, in short, a rationalist and believe only that which reason tells me is so.”

57. “Individual science fiction stories may seem as trivial as ever to the blinder critics and philosophers of today, but the core of science fiction—its essence—has become crucial to our salvation, if we are to be saved at all.”

58. “There is nothing frightening about an eternal dreamless sleep. Surely, it is better than eternal torment in Hell and eternal boredom in Heaven.”

59. “Now any dogma—based primarily on faith and emotionalism—is a dangerous weapon to use on others since it is almost impossible to guarantee that the weapon will never be turned on the user.”

60. “I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t have to spend my whole life fearing Hell, or fearing Heaven even more.”

61. “Whatever the tortures of Hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.”

62. “Scientific truth is beyond and disloyalty.”

63. “It is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works.”

64. “In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence.”

65. “I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.”

66. “There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere.”

67. “It is remarkable, Hardin, how the religion of science has grabbed hold.”

68. “Postulates are based on assumption and adhered to by faith. Nothing in the Universe can shake them.”

69. “Science fiction writers foresee the inevitable, and although problems and catastrophes may be inevitable, solutions are not.”

70. “If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success, but only if you persist.”

71. “I am not a speed reader. I am a speed understander.”

72. “I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it.”

73. “There never can be a man so lost as one who is lost in the vast and intricate corridors of his own lonely mind, where none may reach and none may save.”

74. “It pays to be obvious, especially if you have a reputation for subtlety.”

75. “To succeed, planning alone is insufficient. One must improvise as well.”

76. “It has been my philosophy of life that difficulties vanish when faced boldly.”

77. “I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers.”

78. “There are no happy endings in history, only crisis points that pass.”

79. “There is as yet insufficient data for a meaningful answer.”

80. “The true artist is quite rational as well as imaginative and knows what he is doing; if he does not, his art suffers.”

81. “The true scientist is quite imaginative as well as rational, and sometimes leaps to solutions where reason can follow only slowly; if he does not, his science suffers.”

82. “You did not refuse to look at danger, rather you learned how to handle it safely.”

83. “And above all things, never think that you’re not good enough yourself. A man should never think that.”

84. “Any fool can tell a crisis when it arrives. The real service to the state is to detect it in the embryo.”

85. “In life, people will take you at your own reckoning.”

86. “Weak emperors mean strong viceroys.”

87. “A fire-eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself.”

88. “You are the only one responsible for your own wants.”

89. “If the domination is by an inferior, or by a supposed inferior, the resentment becomes stronger.”

90. “There is nothing so eternally adhesive as the memory of power.”

91. “Why, he wondered, did so many people spend their lives not trying to find answers to questions—not even thinking of questions to begin with? Was there anything more exciting in life than seeking answers?”

92. “Whenever I have endured or accomplished some difficult task—such as watching television, going out socially, or sleeping—I always look forward to rewarding myself with the small pleasure of getting back to my typewriter and writing something.”

93. “I believe that scientific knowledge has fractal properties, that no matter how much we learn, whatever is left, however small it may seem, is just as infinitely complex as the whole was to start with. That, I think, is the secret of the Universe.”

94. “It is in meeting the great tests that mankind can most successfully rise to great heights.”

95. “Out of danger and restless insecurity comes the force that pushes mankind to newer and loftier conquests.”

96. “Eternity prevents men from finding their own bitter and better solutions—the real solutions that come from conquering difficulty, not avoiding it.”

97. “There’s no way I can single-handedly save the world or, perhaps, even make a perceptible difference; but how ashamed I would be to let a day pass without making one more effort.”

98. “Don’t you see? It’s galaxy-wide. It’s a worship of the past. It’s a deterioration—a stagnation!”

99. “No matter how well off the bottom layers of the pyramid might be on an absolute scale, they are always dispossessed in comparison with the apex.”

100. “They won’t listen. Do you know why? Because they have certain fixed notions about the past.”

101. “Any change would be blasphemy in , even if it were the truth.”

102. “They don’t want the truth; they want their traditions.”

103. “I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage.”

104. “Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments.”

105. “If you’re born in a cubicle, and grow up in a corridor, and work in a cell, and vacation in a crowded sun-room, then coming up into the open with nothing but over you might just give you a nervous breakdown.”

106. “It was childish , but childishness comes almost as naturally to a man as to a child.”

107. “We’re forever teetering on the brink of the unknowable, and trying to understand what can’t be understood.”

108. “The first step in making rabbit stew is catching the rabbit.”

109. “But life is glorious when it is happy; days are carefree when they are happy; the interplay of thought and imagination is far superior to that of muscle and sinew.”

110. “It is change—continuing change, inevitable change—that is the dominant factor in society today.”

111. “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.”

112. “Our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.”

113. “Every period of human development has had its own particular type of human conflict—its own variety of problems that, apparently, could be settled only by force.”

114. “I wanted to be a psychological engineer, but we lacked the facilities, so I did the next best thing—I went into politics. It’s practically the same thing.”

115. “Old men tend to forget what thought was like in their youth; they forget the quickness of the mental jump, the daring of youthful intuition, the agility of fresh insight.”

116. “Society is much more easily soothed than one’s own conscience.”

117. “You show me someone who can’t understand people and I’ll show you someone who has built up a false image of himself.”

118. “People who don’t expect justice don’t have to suffer disappointment.”

119. “It was obvious that bigotry was never a one-way operation—that hatred breeds hatred!”

120. “Any system which allows men to choose their own future will end by choosing safety and mediocrity, and in such a reality, the stars are out of reach.”

121. “Intuition is the art peculiar to the human mind, of working out the correct answer from data that is, in itself, incomplete or even, perhaps, misleading.”

122. “Past glories are poor feeding.”

123. “People sometimes mistake their own shortcomings for those of society and want to fix the cities because they don’t know how to fix themselves.”

124. “There is no right to deny freedom to any object with a mind advanced enough to grasp the concept and desire the state.”

125. “Flattery is useful when dealing with youngsters.”

126. “Where is the world whose people don’t prefer a comfortable, warm, and well-worn belief, however illogical, to the chilly winds of uncertainty?”

127. “The first problem of living is to minimize friction with the crowds that surround you on all sides.”

128. “I am afraid a monster is grown that will devour all of us. Yet, we must fight him.”

129. “Fighting is only useful when there’s money at the end, and if I can get it without, so much the sweeter.”

130. “The Earth faces environmental problems right now that threaten the imminent destruction of civilization and the end of the planet as a livable world.”

131. “Humanity cannot afford to waste its financial and emotional resources on endless, meaningless quarrels between each group and all others.”

132. “There must be a sense of globalism in which the world unites to solve the real problems that face all groups alike.”

133. “There are no nations! There is only humanity. And if we don’t come to understand that right soon, there will be no nations, because there will be no humanity.”

134. “The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.”

135. “The whole world might know you and acclaim you, but someone in the past, forever unreachable, forever unknowing, spoils it all.”

136. “All the hundreds of millions of people who, in their time, believed the Earth was flat never succeeded in unrounding it by an inch.”

137. “All evil is good and becomes cancerous.”

138. “Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”

139. “How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection.”

140. “To me, it always seemed that the solution had to be wisdom.”

141. “Human beings sometimes find a kind of pleasure in nursing painful emotions—in blaming themselves without reason or even against reason.”

142. “There’s only this one universe and only this one lifetime to try to grasp it.”

143. “When asked for advice by beginners, know your ending, I say, or the river of your story may finally sink into the desert sands and never reach the sea.”

144. “Of course there are worlds. Millions of them! Every star you see has worlds, and most of those you don’t see.”

145. “It’s your fiction that interests me. Your studies of the interplay of human motives and emotion.”

146. “You just can’t differentiate between a robot and the very best of humans.”

147. “The troubles of modern life come from being divorced from nature.”

148. “It seems to me, Golan, that the advance of civilization is nothing but an exercise in the limiting of privacy.”

149. “Humanists recognize that it is only when people feel free to think for themselves, using reason as their guide, that they are best capable of developing values that succeed in satisfying human needs and serving human interests.”

150. “The soft bonds of love are indifferent to life and death. They hold through time so that yesterday’s love is part of today’s and the confidence in tomorrow’s love is also part of today’s.”

151. “You loved me and your love made me human.”

152. “A circle has no end.”

153. “For a wise man, I have been told, once said, ‘Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate in empty phrases.’ But alas, my lady, I am but a mass of empty phrases, it would seem.”

154. “I can’t bear to hear a human being spoken of with contempt just because of his group identification. It’s these respectable people here who create those hooligans out there.”

155. “Night will always be a time of fear and insecurity, and the heart will sink with the sun.”

156. “The temptation was great to muster what force we could and put up a fight. It’s the easiest way out, and the most satisfactory to self-respect, but nearly invariably, the stupidest.”

157. “Galaxy! When can a man know he is not a puppet? How can a man know he is not a puppet?”



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