Friday, December 6, 2013

Arthur C. Clarke as Point of Departure for Comprehending the World Around Us

Arthur C. Clarke
In his essay on "Hazards of Prophecy: The Failure of Imagination," Arthur C. Clarke makes a shrewd anthropological observation when he points out that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." 

Clarke's anthropology is spot-on. In these words he underscores a principle that can be applied to the analyses of any number of challenging phenomena.  Consider, for example, our difficulties understanding what politicians are doing--what they say, their actions, their motives, their goals, and so on. Rather than respond with frustration, we should keep in mind that our leaders exist at an intellectual level far above our own, and that, notwithstanding their excellence, we can uncover something approaching a full explanation through a simple application of Clarke's principle:

"Any sufficiently advanced decision made by a professional politician is indistinguishable from magic."

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