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Gingrich the Pyscho-Historian



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When I was 14, I inhaled Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy in a weekend. It was based on the idea of “psychohistory,” a means for mathematically predicting broad historical trends centuries into the future, developed by one Hari Seldon. I never read the subsequent volumes, written decades later, but the trilogy got me hooked on Asimov, and I read much of the rest of his science fiction, much of his science-fact, and even some mystery short stories (the butler always solved the crimes). For all that, I never actually thought psychohistory was anything but a sci-fi conceit.

Apparently, the GOP frontrunner never outgrew Asimov:

When in professor mode he likes to recommend books.  None carry more weight in understanding his political and personal drive and his strategy to transform America more than the science fiction of Isaac Asimov.  The greatest influence on Newt Gingrich, the conservative Republican, was the liberal atheist Isaac Asimov.  Many in Newt’s generation, including me, read that stuff with great gusto and fascination.  It was marvelous entertainment.  Newt saw not just entertainment but a master plan using the Foundation trilogy as his political handbook, a guide to how one man creates a new force for civilized life.  Two thousand years ago Cicero observed that to be ignorant of history was to remain always a child.  To which we might add a Gingrich corollary:  to confuse science fiction with reality is to remain always a child.

When Gingrich is described as a futurist, I didn’t realize that meant 23,000 years in the future. Newt even seems to have gone through an Asimov look-alike phase, complete with mutton chops:

 Asimov

And you know who else modeled his life on Hari Seldon and Foundation? Paul Krugman, because “economics is as close to psychohistory as you can get.” Oy.



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