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Politicians should read

22 January 2016

Politicians should read science fiction, not westerns and detective stories.

Arthur C. Clarke


18 Comments to “Politicians should read”

  1. I don’t know . . . I don’t want to hear a politician announcing on international TV that space aliens have infiltrated the [other] party and are responsible for all the nation’s woes. Although it might add a wee bit of variety to the speeches.

    • Didn’t David Icke try to get into politics at one point? Or am I confusing him with some other ‘all governments are run by alien lizard people’ guy?

      • No idea. They start blending together after a while.

        When I flew laaaaate night emergency cargo and med-evac, some nights I’d tune commercial stations in on the back-up AM-band nav to keep awake. Rather educational in some ways, rather scary in others.

  2. I don’t care who you are or how famous you are. IMO telling people they should read this and not that is evil.

  3. It doesn’t have to be either/or.

    Politicians can read science fiction AND westerns, AND detective stories, AND romance novels, etc. etc…

    But I definitely agree that science ficion is one of the genres they SHOULD read.

    • Yes. For the children.

    • During the Carter administration, Jimmy went public with a request that people send him post cards with suggestions re how to conserve energy (resources). I sent a card, suggesting that he assign a bunch of speed readers to zip through science fiction books because the solution may already lie in those pages. The WSJ published my suggestion, though I don’t recall now how they got hold of it.

      • Clever things get around. That’s a good one.

        It’s like the group, whose name I don’t remember, but it had a Sigma in it, of science fiction writers who advised the government on evil plots. They spoke at Capclave some time after 9/11.

      • That’s cool. In “Footfall” Niven and Pournelle imagine that after first contact with hostile aliens, the fictional president gathers sci-fi writers and anthropologists to interact with an alien captive. I kept wondering if it wasn’t a wish-fulfillment to think that The Powers That Be would recruit sci-fi writers. I guess the scenario was more plausible than I gave it credit for 🙂

  4. Well, that was incredibly self-serving of Clarke. So much so that I’m wondering if this was a joke (I don’t know anything about him except his rule about magic vs. tech).

    I’d prefer it if leaders took the same approach to reading as the General Mattis email that people keep linking to. What politicians read for fun is not relevant.

  5. Clarke’s problem is that he thought politicians actually read and that they might be interested in others’ ideas. The first is almost as unlikely as the latter.

  6. I thought they could only read polls. And teleprompters.

  7. Maybe he was trying to say that pollies need to look to the future rather than just shooting things or arresting people to solve issues.

  8. No. The people who elect the politicians should read more science fiction, because those are the people the politicians answer to.

    • Nominally. Ocassionally.
      More often they answer to suitcases full of unmarked small denomination bills.

  9. Ironically, Clarke’s statement is a perfect example of what is wrong with politics: people promoting their own partisan interest rather than disciplining their biases to promote the interests of the whole of civilization.

    Yes, there are undeniable benefits to competition between partisan factions–this is the strength of free markets and democracy–but those in refereeship positions (economically, judicially, etc.) need to at least attempt to rise above this and serve the sustainability of the competition itself.

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