I opened up Asimov's "Foundation" recently and found this:
Q: You are sure that your statement represents scientific proof?
A: I am.
Q: On what basis?
A: On the basis of the mathematics of psychohistory.
Q: Can you prove that this mathematics is valid?
A: Only to another mathematician.
and shortly thereafter:
Q: You quibble, Dr. Seldon. Can the overall future of the human race be changed?
A: No. With great difficultly.
A: The psychohistoric trend of a planet-full of people contains a huge inertia. To be changed it must be met with something possessing a similar inertia. Either as many people must be concerned, or if the number of people be relatively small, enormous time for change must be allowed. Do you understand?
Q: I think I do. The planet need not be ruined, if a great many people act so that it will not.
A: That is right.
Context: The 12k year old system has gotten too complex. Seldon calculated that it would take 30k years to come around again. He can't stop the collapse, but he thinks he can shorten the "dark ages" down to 1k years by storing certain, um, catalysts or triggers to speed up the growth. In creating these knowledge bases he is acknowledging the possibility of collapse so is charged with treason. Asimov was a clever bastard.
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