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Herman Kahn Quotes


One of the preeminent futurists of the latter third of the twentieth century.
(1922 - 1983)

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A healthy and fully functioning society must allocate its resources among a variety of competing interests, all of which are more or less valid but none of which should take precedence over national security.
 

A surprising number of government committees will make important decisions on fundamental matters with less attention than each individual would give to buying a suit.
[Attention]
 

A total nuclear freeze is counterproductive - especially now, when technology is rapidly changing and the Soviets have some important strategic advantages.
 

Anything that reduces war-related destruction should not be considered altogether immoral.
 

Because of new technologies, new wealth, new conditions of domestic life and of international relations, unprecedented criteria and issues are coming up for national decision.
 

Deterrence itself is not a preeminent value; the primary values are safety and morality.
 

Failures of perspective in decision-making can be due to aspects of the social utility paradox, but more often result from simple mistakes caused by inadequate thought.
 

For if enough people were really convinced that growth should be halted, and if they acted on that conviction, then billions of others might be deprived of any realistic hope of gaining the opportunities now enjoyed by the more fortunate.
 

For some years I have spent my time on exactly these questions - both in thinking about ways to prevent war, and in thinking about how to fight, survive, and terminate a war, should it occur.
 

From a scientific perspective there is some indication that a nuclear war could deplete the earth's ozone layer or, less likely, could bring on a new Ice Age - but there is no suggestion that either the created order or mankind would be destroyed in the process.
 

Hopefully, nations will refuse to accept a situation in which nuclear accidents actually do occur, and, if at all possible, they will do something to correct a system which makes them likely.
 

Human and moral factors must always be considered. They must never be missing from policies and from public discussion.
 

I am against the whole cliche of the moment.
 

I'm against fashionable thinking.
 

I'm against ignorance.
 

I'm against sloppy, emotional thinking.
 

In 1960 I published a book that attempted to direct attention to the possibility of a thermonuclear war, to ways of reducing the likelihood of such a war, and to methods for coping with the consequences should war occur despite our efforts to avoid it.
[Attention]
 

In a world which is armed to its teeth with nuclear weapons, every quarrel or difference of opinion may lead to violence of a kind quite different from what is possible today.
 

It is immoral from almost any point of view to refuse to defend yourself and others from very grave and terrible threats, even as there are limits to the means that can be used in such defense.
 

Many people believe that the current system must inevitably end in total annihilation. They reject, sometimes very emotionally, any attempts to analyze this notion.
 


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