- “Any sufficiently advanced math is indistinguishable from prophecy.”
- James Poniewozik, as quoted his New York Times review of the Apple TV adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation.
Some context is in order here. The quote is a take-off on Arthur C. Clarke’s famous quote: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Foundation, published in 1951, is the first in a series of Asimov books. The books center ona fictional discipline known as psychohistory. Pyschohistory combines various social sciences with mathematics and allows large scale predictions of the future with unerring accuracy. The concept is rather ludicrous, such as a prediction of an event 500 years in the future with a probability of 87.2%, but this was written before the dawn of chaos theory, which draws some pretty stark conclusions about our inability to predict events.
I’m guessing that the author of this quote intended to be disparaging of the concept of psychohistory, but can’t say this with any certainty.