Isaac Asimov Quotes

Isaac Asimov, 1920 – 1992

Born: 2 January 1920, Petrovichi, Byelorussian SSR
Died: 6 April 1992, New York City

Born Isaak Yudovich Ozimov, Asimov was an author and professor of biochemistry, and one of the most prolific writers of all time with over 500 works. While he was best known for his science fiction, he also wrote mysteries, fantasies, and nonfiction science books in every major category of the Dewey Decimal System. He is considered one of the “Big Three” fiction writers of all time, and a master of “hard” science fiction.

Asimov’s family came to the United States when he was three and he grew up in Brooklyn. He was fascinated by science fiction, and managed to persuade his father that pulp magazines like Astounding Science Fiction were educational because they had the word “science” in the title. During World War II, he worked at the Philadelphia Naval Yard’s Naval Air Experimental Station before earning his doctorate at Columbia University in 1948. He joined the faculty at the Boston University School of Medicine in 1948, but quit teaching in 1958. He earned more money by writing.

Asimov was a fan of a wide range of other authors, including Arthur C. Clarke, Rex Stout, Arthur Conan Doyle, and he loved the music of Gilbert and Sullivan. He was a friend of Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry, and acted as an advisor in several Star Trek projects. He was popular at conventions, as he was an excellent speaker and very approachable.

As a writer, Asimov’s style was very clear and unadorned, focused on plot rather than characterization. This endeared him especially to readers of his nonfiction works, making it easier to understand complex scientific principles and historical events. Asimov suffered a heart attack in 1977, and had triple bypass surgery in 1983. During the surgery, he was infected with HIV which led to his death.

Isaac Asimov quotes:

A fire eater must eat fire even if he has to kindle it himself.
    Isaac Asimov – “Bridle and Saddle”, Astounding Science-Fiction (June 1942)

A poor idea well written is more likely to be accepted than a good idea poorly written.
    Isaac Asimov

A subtle thought that is in error may yet give rise to fruitful inquiry that can establish truths of great value.
    Isaac Asimov

All evil is good become cancerous.
    Isaac Asimov

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.
    Isaac Asimov

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

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.
    Isaac Asimov

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.’
    Isaac Asimov

Arthur Clarke says that I am first in science and second in science fiction in accordance with an agreement we have made. I say he is first in science fiction and second in science.
    Isaac Asimov

But suppose we were to teach creationism. What would be the content of the teaching? Merely that a creator formed the universe and all species of life ready-made? Nothing more? No details?
    Isaac Asimov – “The Dangerous Myth of Creationism”, Penthouse (January 1982)

Creationists make it sound as though a ‘theory’ is something you dreamt up after being drunk all night.
    Isaac Asimov – Speech to the National Coalition Against Censorship (1980)

Even as a youngster, though, I could not bring myself to believe that if knowledge presented danger, the solution was ignorance. To me, it always seemed that the solution had to be wisdom. You did not refuse to look at danger, rather you learned how to handle it safely.
    Isaac Asimov

Every period of human development has had its own particular type of human conflict—-its own variety of problem that, apparently, could be settled only by force. And each time, frustratingly enough, force never really settled the problem. Instead, it persisted through a series of conflicts, then vanished of itself—-what’s the expression—-ah, yes, ‘not with a bang, but a whimper,’ as the economic and social environment changed. And then, new problems, and a new series of wars.
    Isaac Asimov – I, Robot (1950)

Flattery is useful when dealing with youngsters.
    Isaac Asimov

For it is the chief characteristic of the religion of science that it works, and that such curses as that of Aporat’s are really deadly.
    Isaac Asimov – “Bridle and Saddle”, Astounding Science-Fiction (June 1942)

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.
    Isaac Asimov

Give us but the chance and a new generation of Earthmen would grow to maturity, lacking insularity and believing wholeheartedly in the oneness of Man.
    Isaac Asimov – Pebble in the Sky (1950)

Happiness is doing it rotten your own way.
    Isaac Asimov – I, Asimov (1994)

How often people speak of art and science as though they were two entirely different things, with no interconnection. An artist is emotional, they think, and uses only his intuition; he sees all at once and has no need of reason. A scientist is cold, they think, and uses only his reason; he argues carefully step by step, and needs no imagination. That is all wrong.
    Isaac Asimov – The Roving Mind (1983)

I am all for cultural diversity and would be willing to see each recognizable group value its cultural heritage. I am a New York patriot, for instance, and if I lived in Los Angeles, I would love to get together with other New York expatriates and sing “Give My Regards to Broadway”.
    Isaac Asimov – I, Asimov (1994)

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.
    Isaac Asimov – Free Inquiry (Spring 1982)

I believe in evidence. I believe in observation, measurement, and reasoning, confirmed by independent observers. I’ll believe anything, no matter how wild and ridiculous, if there is evidence for it. The wilder and more ridiculous something is, however, the firmer and more solid the evidence will have to be.
    Isaac Asimov – The Roving Mind (1983)

I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
    Isaac Asimov

I don’t have a modest bone in my body.
    Isaac Asimov

I have been told that a young would-be composer wrote to Mozart asking advice as to how to compose a symphony. Mozart responded that a symphony was a complex and demanding form and that it would be better to start with something simpler. The young man protested, ‘But Herr Mozart, you wrote symphonies when you were younger than I am now.’ And Mozart replied, ‘I never asked how.’
    Isaac Asimov

I may not always be right, but I’m never wrong.
    Isaac Asimov

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.
    Isaac Asimov

I received the fundamentals of my education in school, but that was not enough. My real education, the superstructure, the details, the true architecture, I got out of the public library. For an impoverished child whose family could not afford to buy books, the library was the open door to wonder and achievement, and I can never be sufficiently grateful that I had the wit to charge through that door and make the most of it. Now, when I read constantly about the way in which library funds are being cut and cut, I can only think that the door is closing and that American society has found one more way to destroy itself.
    Isaac Asimov – I, Asimov (1994)

I stand four-square for reason, and object to what seems to me to be irrationality, whatever the source. If you are on my side in this, I must warn you that the army of the night has the advantage of overwhelming numbers, and, by its very nature, is immune to reason, so that it is entirely unlikely that you and I can win out. We will always remain a tiny and probably hopeless minority, but let us never tire of presenting our view, and of fighting the good fight for the right.”
    Isaac Asimov

I type 90 words per minute on the typewriter; I type 100 words per minute on the word processor. But, of course, I don’t keep that up indefinitely—every once in a while I do have to think a few seconds.
    Isaac Asimov

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