DAVID BRIN's favorite quotes

David Brin is best-known for shining light — plausibly and entertainingly — on technology, society, and countless challenges confronting our rambunctious civilization. His best-selling novels include The Postman (filmed in 1997) plus explorations of our near-future in Earth and Existence. Other novels are translated into 25+ languages. His short stories explore vividly speculative ideas. Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the American Library Association's Freedom of Speech Award for exploring 21st Century concerns about security, secrecy, accountability and privacy.

As a scientist, tech-consultant and world-known author, he speaks, advises, and writes widely on topics from national defense and homeland security to astronomy and space exploration, SETI and nanotechnology, future/prediction, creativity, and philanthropy. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications.

These quotes, gathered from Brin's novels, books, articles and interviews, have gained a fair amount of use over the years. Feel free to share with your circle.

Contrary Brin blog

We're starting to get accustomed enough to this new century to want it to be different from the last, which is why Brin expanded his "laboratory" to the real world, blogging ideas and topics that pique, fascinate, and infuriate.
Contrary Brin

quotes for science and the scientific-minded

DAVID BRINWe aren't a curse upon the world. We are her eyes. Her brain, testes, ovaries... her ambition and her heart. Her voice. So sing.

"To meddle in the makeup of other species, in an attempt to 'uplift' their intelligence, might be the most ethically fraught and worrisome decision humanity could make. But to refuse the chance might be the most damnably selfish one. It would say: 'we stumbled into this gift and now we refuse to share.'"
David Brin

DAVID BRIN: Science is the best and only reliable method human beings have ever found for penetrating delusions and gradually discovering what is true.

"But there is another reason to protect other species, seldom mentioned. Perhaps we are the first to talk and think and build and aspire, but we won't be the last. Others will follow us in this adventure. Some day we may be judged by how well we served, when we alone were Earth's caretakers."
— from The Uplift War

DAVID BRIN: If we find ourselves alone in the cosmos amid a great silence, without others to talk to, humans will solve that problem by making our own friends among the higher animals, such as dolphins and chimps, giving them a boost to their intelligence.

"There has never lived a profession more inherently competitive. Every participant dreams of being the next one to upset the apple cart. Freshly-tenured junior professors are the Young Guns, swaggering down Main Street looking to build a reputation by overturning some Nobelist's accepted model."
David Brin

"All of the great enlightenment arenas — markets, science and democracy — flourish in direct proportion to how much their players (consumers, scientists and voters) know, in order to make good decisions. To whatever extent these arenas get clogged by secrecy, they fail."
— from The Transparent Society

DAVID BRIN: Criticism is the only known antidote to error (CITOKATE)
DAVID BRIN: For all its beauty, honesty, and effectiveness at improving the human condition, science demands a terrible price - that we accept what experiments tell us about the universe, whether we like it or not. It's about consensus and teamwork and respectful critical argument, working with, and through, natural law. It requires that we utter, frequently, those hateful words - 'I might be wrong.'
DAVID BRIN: Don't be fooled by all the prim detail and surface courtesy. If objective reality weren't the fierce arbiter, it would be a bloodbath. The dopes who call science 'timidly orthodox' would not last two minutes.

"One of the worst calumnies has been to portray scientists as timid herd creatures, chasing teensy grants and chanting the consensus paradigm."
David Brin

DAVID BRIN: Sometimes the best kind of planning involves leaving room for the unknown.

quotes that contend with progress & change

DAVID BRIN: When your 'side' contains monsters, it is your duty, as a patriot and as a decent member of civilization, to stand up and repudiate them - no matter how painful that repudiation might be.
DAVID BRIN: History shows that underdogs - those who lost the last campaign or who bear a bitter grudge - often turn to innovative or resilient new strategies, while those who were recently succesful are in grave danger of getting mired in irrelevant solutions from the past, often with disastrous consequences.
DAVID BRIN: Change is the very fabric of our time.
DAVID BRIN: The expansion of our horizons of interest may be among the most human of all activities, as we stretch our gaze and curiosity beyond the mere present, the mere town, nation, or even planet.

"It is simplistic to claim that secrecy is the root of all evil. But there is no evil that is not worsened by secrecy."
— from The Transparent Society

DAVID BRIN: On the singularity: What's important is not me. And it's not you. It's us.
DAVID BRIN: Information is not like money or any other commodity. The cracks that it can slip through are almost infinitely small, and it can be duplicated at almost zero cost. Soon information will be like air, like the weather, and as easy to control...

"Self-righteous people can talk themselves into forgetting they are a part of a civilization. Instead of negotiating, they despise the neighbors who nurture them, feeding on that culture while disdaining it."
David Brin

"Change can't be prevented, only guided."
— from Earth

DAVID BRIN: Progress doesn't always go the way we expect it to. It is sometimes wiser than we are.

"What if this was all a fight between two factions of the government or aristocracy? Such things happened all the time, and when dragons battle each other, peasants are better off ducking out of the way."
— from Existence

DAVID BRIN: It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.

"For we already live in the openness experiment, and have for two hundred years. It is called the Enlightenment — with 'light' both a core word and a key concept in our turn away from 4,000 years of feudalism."
— from The Transparent Society

DAVID BRIN: When it comes to privacy and accountability, people always demand the former for themselves and the latter for everyone else.

"If facts are inconvenient, well then, why not damn those who live and work with facts? How's that working out?"
David Brin

DAVID BRIN: Liberty flourishes, not when government is weak, but when government is accountable.

"The worst mistake of first contact, made throughout history by individuals on both sides of every encounter, has been the unfortunate habit of making assumptions. It often proved fatal."
David Brin

DAVID BRIN: If government and corporations will know everything about us, our sole option is to know everything about them.

"Reciprocal accountability, or criticism, is the only known antidote to error."
David Brin

DAVID BRIN: Freedom can only be effective when most of the people know most of what's going on, most of the time.

a brief intro to science fiction author DAVID BRIN

To learn more, visit his books page, or see his "about me" page or detailed biography.



David Brin's science fiction novels have been New York Times Bestsellers, winning multiple Hugo, Nebula and other awards. At least a dozen have been translated into more than twenty languages. They range from bold and prophetic explorations of our near-future to Brin's Uplift series, envisioning galactic issues of sapience and destiny (and star-faring dolphins!). Learn More

shorter fiction

Short stories and novellas have different rhythms and artistic flavor, and Brin's short stories and novellas, several of which earned Hugo and other awards, exploit that difference to explore a wider range of real and vividly speculative ideas. Many have been selected for anthologies and reprints, and most have been published in anthology form. Learn More

Contrary Brin blog

Since 2004, David Brin has maintained a blog about science, technology, science fiction, books, and the future — themes his science fiction and nonfiction writings continue to explore. Learn More

social media influencer

Who could've predicted that social media — indeed, all of our online society — would play such an important role in the 21st Century — restoring the voices of advisors and influencers! Lively and intelligent comments spill over onto Brin's social media pages. Learn More

DAVID BRIN scientist


David Brin's Ph.D in Physics from the University of California at San Diego (the lab of nobelist Hannes Alfven) followed a masters in optics and an undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Caltech. Every science show that depicts a comet now portrays the model developed in Brin's PhD research. Learn More

transparency expert

Brin's non-fiction book, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force Us to Choose Between Freedom and Privacy?, continues to receive acclaim for its accuracy in predicting 21st Century concerns about online security, secrecy, accountability and privacy. Learn More

speaker & consultant

Brin speaks plausibly and entertainingly about trends in technology and society to audiences willing to confront the challenges that our rambunctious civilization will face in the decades ahead. He also talks about the field of science fiction, especially in relation to his own novels and stories. To date he has presented at more than 200 meetings, conferences, corporate retreats and other gatherings.Learn More

future/tech advisor

Brin advises corporations and governmental and private defense- and security-related agencies about information-age issues, scientific trends, future social and political trends, and education. Urban Developer Magazine named him one of four World's Best Futurists, and he was appraised as "#1 influencer" in Onalytica's Top 100 report of Artificial Intelligence influencers, brands & publications. Past consultations include Google, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and many others. Learn More

Contacting BRIN

All the Ways in the World to Reach David Brin

an ornery, contrary BLOG, and other insightful wormholes!

Do not enter if you want a standard "Party" line! Contrary Brin's incendiary posts on science, sci-fi and politics and its engaged, opinionated community poke at too-rigid orthodoxies, proposing ideas and topics that fascinate — and infuriate. See for yourself, and if you like — subscribe for more.

Questions? Concerns? Email DAVID BRIN at mail@davidbrin.com


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pages about DAVID BRIN

  • latest news and activities
  • information about DAVID BRIN
  • public speaking and consulting & popular topics
  • speaking/consulting references and testimonials & a list of past appearances
  • print and podcast interviews
  • video interviews and talks
  • Brin's presskit and complete biography
  • traditional media and social media
  • Brin quotes and frequently asked questions
  • pages about BRIN's science fiction

  • Brin's novels and books
  • Brin's short stories and novellas
  • all about Brin's uplift universe
  • a selection of book reviews
  • Brin's special-order books for sale
  • Brin's advice for new writers
  • Brin reviews sci fi films — including The Postman
  • a compilation of great sf books to read
  • recommended sf films
  • science fiction that teaches
  • BRIN's nonfiction explorations

  • privacy, security, accountability and transparency
  • designing and crafting our amazing 21st Century
  • predicting and projecting our near and far future
  • leading and following our politics and economy
  • keeping track of changes in science and technology
  • scanning our sky for habitable (inhabited?) worlds